Trovare la strada
Finding the way. It means so many different things when you are starting life in a new country. Think about it. When you move to a new house, even in the same city- if you are in the same country, there is so much you already know. But in a new country, with a new language, you can pretty much throw what you think you know out la finestra. ( you know - the window)
I keep thinking back to when I moved to London in 2014. How timid I was in my exploration of - well- pretty much everything. ( And they speak English. Well, sort of) It took weeks for me to figure out the money thing, and then there was the epic search for a simple broom. Yes, you heard me- a broom. I was living in Kensington- in a lovely little studio apartment in what I would come to find out was the rather posh part of the city. I had a small patio outside my front door, which was actually below the sidewalk above. And because of that location, it got all kinds of leaves and debris blown in on a regular basis. I wanted a broom, and the flat didn't have one. I could have asked the landlord, but they were testy and I figured I could just buy one. But it would turn out not to be so easy.
Looking back, I'm grateful for the broom dilemma, as it pushed me out of my comfort zone in that first month. I began talking to shop keepers after a search of the local grocery and other likely shops failed to produce even the simplest broom. And eventually, I became more comfortable being on my own in a new country, using humour as often as possible to make even the silliest questions not so hard to ask. Eventually, I found it. A red broom that stood in the window of the fanciest little hardware store in town. For only 20 pounds. LOL.
I bought it anyway.
I tell you this story because I've now been in Bellano three days and I've sorted out a realtor, a doctor, a few candidates for banking and nearly - a new phone. I've walked the village from end to end a few different routes, found the grocery store and two different ways ( one death defying due to lack of sidewalks) and one lovely and along the lake.- to get there and back. I've introduced myself to the local merchants when I meet them. I took the fast boat to Como city yesterday (1.5 hours) after a conversation that I've come to see as 'normale' with the almost always grumpy ticket person at the ferry. If you've been here, you'll know what I mean.
I'm getting the ticket app, which means I can avoid the grumps.
In Como I had a wander to find the two stores that sell both phones->if you need that- and sim cards for Italian phone service> which I have discovered is essential. I managed to get my UK phone unlocked on Monday and did some research on networks and plans. After the first stop, where they didn't have any sim cards in stock ???, I asked about Vodafone and the young man outright lied and said yes, but it was very far away- too far to walk. I had a feeling he wasn't being honest, but I thanked him anyway.
I'll give him this - he wanted my business any way he could get it.
I found a place in the piazza for lunch that was empty. The menu was nice and reasonable and I had my pick of tables. I chose the house made gnocchi with ragu of beef, and a glass of Prosecco.
Then I settled in for a good old people watch. Italy never disappoints in this area. Beautiful women in summer dresses that show off their tans and their curves unabashedly. Tourists stopping every few seconds to snap another picture which is totally understandable. Families with unhappy children who make their presence known from a distance. Nothing makes me happier than Italian children btw... they are quite verbal and use their hands when they speak. And they have a sense of themselves that I don't think I found till I was 40!
Somedays that is still elusive. (picture the emoji with hands raised as if to say 'what can I do?')
Lunch, by the way, was delicioso. The waiter was friendly, we had a chat. He wants to open his own place so he is working here 'to learn all the things'. He'll do well if he stays this warm and lovely to strangers. Even the lunch portion of the gnocchi was too much, but he was happy to pack it up and I had the rest for dinner. I found the Vodafone store just around the corner, and had a lovely conversation totally in Italian with the young man and was ready to make a purchase when he realised I wasn't actually Italian. (SCORE for my accent ha ha) So he asked for my passport, which is common and that's when I remembered I'd left it in the safe in my flat. .
You win some, you lose some.
I walked back to check the schedule for the ferry, but found I'd have to wait another three hours for the next fast boat back to Bellano. By then I'd been walking for about 4 hours in increasing heat, and had reached my limit. So I decided to take the slow boat, because the views are like the best travel channel ever, and I'd spend those three hours making my way home. It gave me a chance to look at a lot of the smaller villages on the lake to determine if they were worth investigating before I choose my rental for the year. And I got to see a lot of really interesting architecture and even a small island - Isola Comacina- where the ferry stopped. There is a huge ristorante where I will definitely visit when it reopens mid September.
Every day here feels full of possibility and beauty.
And I am full of gratitude for that, and for anyone reading this.
PS (The grocery store here sells brooms for 4 Euro. I may buy one just because).