This is how it happened: we were in Sicily, in the small fishing village of Sciacca, where we were staying in a friend's guesthouse for 10 days. We had an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea below the house, and all day we could hear the waves colliding gently with the beach.
There were wildflowers everywhere and large, drooping trees with bright yellow flowers and cactuses. Every day was sunny, and we lay on the beach and swam in the sea. In the mornings, we went to the fish market to buy fresh fish for the day, and in the evenings, we drank wine and ate fat, green Sicilian olives.
We were in love with Italy. So when my husband, Ryan, got the phone call during a lazy afternoon game of cribbage, we were surprised at how quickly we changed gears.
Ryan, a Steamboat Springs native, is a professional hockey player, who for the past four years has played for a team in Northern Italy. We were in Sicily on vacation, at the end of a difficult season, and we were unwinding by not thinking about hockey and instead focusing all our attention on which Sicilian wine was the best.
But then Ryan got a call from a team in Scotland, and everything changed.
The Fife Flyers, located in the coastal town of Kirkcaldy, wanted Ryan to come play for them for the 2015-16 season. It seems crazy to say that we were ready to move on from Italy. Has anyone ever said they want to get out of Italy?
Italy is the land of Michelangelo and the Colosseum and Rome and Florence. Just the week before, we had tasted the best pizza in the world in Naples. Italy has the mountains and the sea and the Strada del Vino and Vespas and leather and Italian grandmothers who make fresh pasta all day long. It seems there is no reason to leave.
On the other hand, Italy is also disorganized and takes the phrase "go with the flow" to a level that even Steamboatians would find appalling. Trying to work in that environment can sometimes be a bit trying.
So when Scotland came calling, despite our incredible surroundings at the time, it sounded kind of nice to be in an environment where employees get paid on time, where no one shrugs their shoulders and looks the other way when there's a problem and where English is the first language, give or take a few phrases.
So we decided to trade prosciutto and mozzarella for haggis and deep fried Mars bars, which we are told is a Scottish specialty that we'll love.
"But won't you miss Italy?" everyone says when we tell them about our big switch. Yes. We'll miss the food and the wine and our friends and for the most part, the lifestyle. But Italy will always be in our hearts, and as much as we may find ourselves missing it on rainy winter days in Scotland, we're that much more excited for a new adventure — to explore a new neighborhood, a new country, a new culture. To make new friends and try new foods and learn about whiskey instead of wine.
And that's the story of how we find ourselves now, at the end of another Steamboat summer, (almost) packed and ready to go to Scotland for eight months. Stay tuned for a report on how we like haggis and those famous fried Mars bars.
Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer, currently making the switch from living in Italy to living in Scotland. While she’ll miss the pasta and wine, she’s looking forward to exploring a new country and trying haggis. Sophie’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and professional hockey player; you can follow their adventures online at http://sophiedingle.blogspot.com.