Tis Returns to Italy! Day 1: Touchdown In Italy!
On Day 1, I landed in Italy and the journey began…
Finalmente, sono arrivata in Italia! (Finally, I have arrived in Italy!)
As the plane landed near Milan, I watched the Italian countryside appear outside my window. I could not wait to be in the center of the city, one of my favorite spots in Italy, wandering the streets and hearing the Italian language I’ve been studying for so long.
Following a near brush with a prison term after dropping my overhead bag on a small child’s head, I was standing in the aisle ready to disembark. The child whose head caught my bag was fine but I was traumatized. I repeatedly asked the Italian parents if their son was okay until they firmly insisted he was fine and I should no longer worry.
It’s the Little Things
The first day was all about the little things. I loved every simple pleasure.
After arriving in the center of Milan, I headed to a caffè. I ordered and paid for my cappuccino and croissant, all using my Italian. I felt victorious at the surprise on the owner’s face when I gave him exact change after he quoted the price in Italian. Usually, workers in tourist places speak English and seem to enjoy busting your chops when you try your few Italian words to ask a question and are unable to understand the response. I slowly counted the correct change, noting his surprise with a triumphant smile, and took my breakfast outside for some people watching.
I sat at a table where I could watch the trams and all the Milanese people pass by as they started their days. I love Milan. Most people skip it, not seeing its true beauty. There are hidden gems all over the city if you know where to look. I love the hustle and bustle of this true Italian city.
After breakfast, I walked to the TIM cellular store to buy a sim card. Once again, I felt victorious, completing most of the transaction in Italian. Before leaving NYC, I had shut off my cell phone for three months. Now I have a new Italian number. I feel like a local!
Return to Bellagio
After getting connected to the world via my cell, I sadly left Milan behind and caught a train to the beautiful town of Varenna. From there, I caught a ferry to Bellagio. Memories of my last time in Bellagio back in 2010 were tainted by a weird, Scandinavian stalker I picked up. Being me, I talked to many people, hoping to get travel tips and make new friends.
Unfortunately, one of those people was a guy who developed an unhealthy interest in me. Everywhere I went, there he was. I began to seek out places to hide from him. Needless to say, I was looking forward to a little more freedom this trip.
After settling into my room with a view of the garden at my lovely hotel, I had my first of what is sure to be many, meals of pasta and vino. The pasta was an incredibly delicious tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and of course a nice glass of the house red wine. I don’t recall ever having a bad glass of wine in Italy. Is that even possible? Maybe if they import something.
Old Loves and New Favorites
Afterwards, I wandered around, getting my bearings again. I found my first “old man bar” which was a spot I’d missed on my first trip. I love a good old man bar and this one was absolutely wonderful. The locals were popping in and out, mainlining espresso. Some sat for a chat at the tables out front and enjoyed the activity on the piazza.
Inside, the two old men working the counter happily spoke Italian with me, and insisted on bringing my drink to my table for me. I already love these two guys! They were having the best time working in that caffè together. I wanted to ask if they need any workers. I will take a job and stay in Bellagio!
Later, I simply had to end the evening at the place I capped off all of my nights on my last trip to Bellagio. The bar at Hotel Florence was at the end of the main drag by the water. No one really sits at the bar, instead filling up the tables outside. However, I used to sit at the bar and the bartender as well as the waiters would help me practice my Italian. I was just starting Italian school then and eager to learn the language. They were happy to help me!
Reflections and Dreams
As the euphoria from finally being here wore off and the jetlag began to kick in, I spent the final moments of my day enjoying my wine and my memories. I thought of the years that had passed since my first trip to Bellagio back in 2010. As is true of many things in life, so much had changed, while many things remained the same.
I paid my check and headed up the hill to my room in Hotel Centrale. Sleep came quickly with dreams of the three months ahead.