Ciao from Cortina: Ideally Italy |

Ciao from Cortina: Ideally Italy

Sophie Dingle/For the Steamboat Today

— On a Wednesday morning at 9:15 a.m., 45 minutes after he was supposed to arrive, the man who is going to install our Internet is standing on the balcony of our new apartment. We've been in Italy for almost two weeks, living without Internet; a crime to us Americans.

But this is our fourth year in Italy, and we should be used to it by now. Last year, we didn't get Internet in our apartment for a month.

My husband, Ryan, originally from Steamboat Springs, is a professional hockey player who, in 2011, accepted an offer to play for Cortina d'Ampezzo, a team in the top Italian league. We've been here ever since, shuttling back to Steamboat for the summers and then waiting on the Internet every September.

Giovanni, the man tasked with installing our Internet, is holding a satellite dish toward the nearby mountain where the Internet tower rises hopefully above the bright green grass.

"No," he says, shaking his head, "the signals are crossed."

Crossed signals are a common occurrence for us since leaving Colorado several weeks ago.

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We have to readjust to Italy — the land of washing machines but no driers, five different trashcans for five different types of trash, tiny refrigerators and rock-hard mattresses. The avocados come from Israel, and there is no cheddar cheese in sight.

Ryan, I don't think we're in Steamboat anymore.

We spent the summer desperate to get back to Italy, dreamily reminiscing about eating pasta for lunch, sipping Lagrein in tiny wine bars, taking lazy afternoon naps during the risposo period from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and going on hikes through the jutting peaks of the Dolomite Mountains.

And now here we are, with no Internet, no television and no car. We walk to the grocery store and lug home the bags. Our carefully practiced Italian phrases (Hai una buona estate?) fall to the wayside when a Cortina local shoots off a rapid-fire welcome back speech, much too quickly to follow. There are no hikes because it rains every day and no wine to be sipped because Ryan has practice every night until 9 p.m.

If the French have a certain je ne sais quoi, the Italians have il dolce far niente figured out. The sweetness of doing nothing — no setting up the Internet, no getting us the car, no delivering the television — and yet we have to laugh. Because we're happy to be back here in this beautiful part of the world, and because it's nice that nothing has changed while we were gone.

In our busy, overstressed, to-do-list-filled American lives, we forget that the Internet is not the most important thing in the world, and we don't have to watch TV after dinner.

And so instead, we take our coffee out on the balcony in the morning to sit in the sun before it starts raining in the afternoon. We play backgammon and cribbage after dinner. And we eat lots of homemade pasta.

That Wednesday afternoon, after Giovanni had taken his satellite dish home in defeat, he called.

"I think I found a way to uncross the signals," he announced triumphantly.

And I think I did, too.

Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer living in Cortina, Italy, where her husband and Steamboat native, Ryan, plays professional ice hockey. While in Italy, she loves to eat, cook, explore and drink red wine. You can follow her adventures online at

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