Ciao from Cortina: Ideally Italy


— 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.


Courtesy Photo

Sophie Dingle

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.

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


rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Sophie!! This srticle is a breath of fresh air, on a dour day in da 'Boat. Wish I would have seen it sooner. Had to dig through four pages of Chamber of Commerce promotions disguised as news to find it. This just whets my appetite; Italy remains at the top of my to-do list before I die. It varies so widely, north to south -- or so I'm told -- I'd like to see for myself. I need my Internet, however... Thanks!!


Dan Kuechenmeister 2 years, 6 months ago

Rhys, When you get the chance (make the chance) go for it. You can find internet. Being in Italy is like being a kid in a candy store. Hard to decide what to do next, but what ever you choose to do will be awesome. And yes, thanks Sophie and the Pilot for reminding me what a great place Italy can be to visit.


rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

Pat -- Once my software catches on (listen to the Dreamer) I can run that from anywhere, Italy high on the list of possibilities. But I need the Web for that. Although the stand-alone Windows version might take off...

Dan -- Would I prefer the Alps up north, or the vineyards down south? The bustle of Rome, or the quaint countryside? And the cuisine: Northern, or Sicilian? I hear our Italian is hardly representative. When I asked Dom Riggio -- best cook I've ever known -- what we served, he said "New Yawk Italian." Demonstrating my point. I want to see and savor it ALL!!


Dan Kuechenmeister 2 years, 6 months ago

Rhys, You asked "Dan -- Would I prefer the Alps up north, or the vineyards down south? The bustle of Rome, or the quaint countryside? And the cuisine: Northern, or Sicilian?" The answer is yes. When you go, go slowly, enjoy where your feet take you. I don't think you will be disappointed. And the cuisine, hard to beat a local restaurant in a small town that has been in the family for generations. I have yet to find anything like it here in the USA.


rhys jones 2 years, 6 months ago

I've seen enough film, and read enough, that I feel like I've been there. Thought that about the Grand Canyon too -- until I saw it. Nothing beats the experience of actually being there. I've been to the other side of the other pond -- I'd like to see the other side of this one. I'm entranced, watching the Tour de France -- the countryside, the groves and vineyards, everything outside the Alps and Pyrenees meticuluosly groomed, the ancient architecture, tile roofs, stone streets...

The Japanese took care of the land too. Even in the mountains, where they'd excavate a hillside or bluff for a road, they'd follow up with ventilating pipes first, then concrete, molded and colored to resemble natural rock, to reduce erosion and falling-rock danger... making drives prettier and safer... convex mirrors at blind curves -- also thoughtful.

Yep, there's a LOT of pretty places in this ol' world, I haven't seen enough, and we've got a corner on nothing. Maybe when the Rothschilds own the whole world, it'll be easier to get around!! (sorry, had to beat my drum)

Italy still tops my list, and thanks again Sophie and Dan for stoking the fire!!


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.