Before Scotland, there was Italy.
My husband and I lived in Cortina, Italy, while he played four hockey seasons. At the end of last year’s season, we left several boxes of our belongings in a friend’s basement: winter clothes, beautiful wine glasses and dishes, souvenirs from our travels. Now that we’re in Scotland, we decided the best thing to do was ship these boxes back to Colorado. So last week, I returned to Italy.
There are only three things I dislike about Cortina: the driving, the post office and the lack of Internet access. In the three days we were there, my mother — who accompanied me to help with the packing and shipping in exchange for spaghetti carbonara — and I encountered all three.
After living in Scotland for three months, I’m unusually comfortable with driving on the left side of the road — or as we tend to say, “the wrong side.” What I am now uncomfortable with is driving a manual car on the right side of the road. To alleviate half this problem, we rented an automatic.
The car turned out to be what the Italians think of as an automatic, with a gear shift that looks suspiciously similar to what you would find in a manual car. As it turned out, it was sort of a cross between a manual and an automatic, one that required shifting into automatic mode, which I figured out after driving around the roundabout 15 times, trying to get the RMPs down below six before getting on the highway.
The next morning in Cortina, we walked down to the post office to buy boxes. But the man at the post office shook his head no. There were no boxes at the post office. He suggested putting four years’ worth of ski clothes, kitchen items and household goods into padded envelopes to be mailed to Colorado.
So my mother and I walked back to the hotel brainstorming new ideas for shipping our belongings, and I called Ryan from the coat closet, which was the only place in the hotel I got a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to make a phone call.
Everything we did in Cortina in the three days we were there felt like a small accomplishment. We found our own boxes and taped them up. We mastered the car and drove to a nice restaurant I remembered for lunch one day. Despite the fact that the only place in all of Cortina that my phone worked was in the coat closet, I still managed to make plans to see our Italian friends from the past four years.
On the last morning, we went back to the post office to mail the boxes. When it was our turn in line, we went up to the counter, and the woman shook her head and said, “No, we can’t possibly mail those to the United States.”
Luckily, I had brought an Italian friend with me, one who was just pushy enough — as you often have to be in Italy — to insist that we speak to someone else who said, yes, of course we could mail the boxes. After an hour and twenty minutes in the post office, the boxes were out of my possession, promised in Colorado sometime before 2016.
People often ask me if I prefer Italy or Scotland, and I can’t answer. Because while I may not be thrilled with the Italian postal system, without it, there would be no stories.
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 sophiedingle.blogspot.com.