Monday, May 7, 2007

Bling and things

Part of the fun of living in a place like this is when people come to visit. My friends Bob and Hannah braved the A-4 and A-9 to come for a short and sassy break in Luganoville. We spent the Saturday in Como where we met up with my friend Elizabeth, who lives in NYC, and her friend Michael, who lives in Milan. We had a great day wandering the town, watching Elizabeth go shopping for America and eating and drinking and revelling. Elizabeth and I did have a pinch-me moment when we wondered what two Wichita girls were doing drinking beers along the Lago di Como fabulous are we? Sunday Bob and HC and I went to the amazing market in Cannobio, a town along Lago Maggiore that bursts with color, fragerance and shoppers each Sunday morning. It was fun exploring a new place with old friends. The following weekend, a girlfriend from university, Robin, came with her boyfriend Andrew for a weekend to begin a holiday in Tuscany which ends in Amsterdam this coming Saturday. We had a lovely time in Lugano and I took them to the Cannobio market, too, before whisking them to the train station in time for an early train to Tuscany. I was thrilled to receive an email from Robin last Tuesday - they're now engaged! Huge congratulations to them!

And on a similar note...much revelling was done in Milan after the (hideous, poor, ridiculous - enter favorite negative adjective here) showing of Manchester United in the Champion's League semifinal at San Siro. My friend Marty had tried to get tickets from the same contact he had used in the past, but this guy understood the value of a Man U ticket and probably got five times the face value for it. So when he stopped me in the hallway at 1730 the day of the match I jumped at the chance - Ronaldo! Rooney! At Milan! I wish I could say it was a good match, but a 3-0 Milan win made me wonder why again these guys are so overrated. I haven't seen Milan play this well ever, and if they are on form on the 23rd they could easily roll over Liverpool.

My friend Andrea came to stay last Thursday night, and of course after months of glorious weather it decided to chuck it down all day Friday and most of Saturday. We went to Como anyway (sensing a pattern here?), and spent the day wandering the shops and shocking ourselves by staring at the stock. You know you're in Italy when all the things in the shop window are gold, silver, and white, and match. Oh my god. They are not kidding. Look at these - the jackets are golden-sheened leather, the boots and shoes ostentatiously blinged beyond anything I've ever seen - and it's all ridiculously expensive! Who wears this stuff?!! We did manage to take the boat to Bellagio and wander the slightly classier boutiques there, along with treating ourselves to cocktails with free happy hour food (which happens often in Italy). We found an amazing restaurant - finally, as I have been waiting to find an exceptional place in Como for years - called Il Solito Posto. Great find. Creative, fresh menu and great wine list. Sunday we went up the funicular to Burante, a tiny village overlooking Como, and found ourselves lunching in a creepy hotel restaurant with an amazing view, a waiter who looked like he'd spent the past 25 years living a rough life, and a large table of Sunday lunchers who all looked like the waiter. He wagged his finger when I asked for balsamic vinegar for my Caprese salad, and told Andrea she couldn't eat her pasta with her fork - !! We wandered the town after and it was a bizarre mix of sleepy village and tat-filled garage sale. And that was enough of that - we ran for the funicular and back down to civilization. But beforehand, here's a view from the top (Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn are barely visible behind the mountains!):

My parents join the party on Wednesday for nearly two weeks! Only 14 more days of teaching and a month left of the school year - and for the first time in my life, time ain't flying. This is kind of a good thing. Here's to sunshine, safe travels, and enjoying the time while I have it.

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