Wednesday, October 31, 2012

At Home in Italy

I flew back to Italy on Monday.  The flights were uneventful.  Perfect landings on each leg of the trip (thank you Lufthansa pilots!) and we completely avoided tropical storm Sandy by flying over Greenland.  I started to get a little nervous at the start of my journey, since my flight to Chicago was delayed by almost an hour.  Seeing as Chicago is a ginormous airport and before I've had to run from one end of the airport to the other to get to my connecting flight, I was a bit nervous!  As luck would have it, the gate we pulled into upon arrival was only 5 gates down from my departing gate!  I got there in time to stand in line to board!

I didn't get much sleep on the flight over to Europe.  I was amused by the little dog that was under my seat.  The man sitting behind me had his dog as a carry-on & every so often it would let out a "yip".  Poor thing, I know it had to be his ears popping, because every time he "yipped" I noticed a change in pressure.  I do think that I prefer flying with a dog under my seat than a baby anywhere on the plane!

After watching 3 movies (Madagascar 3, Men in Black 3, and Brave) and a television episode (How I Met Your Mother), and maybe an hour and a half nap, I found myself in Frankfurt, Germany.  If you've never been to the Frankfurt airport, let me just say - it's huge.  I mean, REALLY huge.  I think every time I fly into Frankfurt that I end up walking the length of the city to get from one terminal to the other.  The people who work there are friendly though.  The female police officer who padded me down/wanded me at the security checkpoint and I shared a bit of a giggle over the fact that it was early in the morning and neither of us could remember the English word "collar"!

The flight to Florence was wonderful.  It is only about an hour and a half long flight, but the view of the alps is spectacular when there are no clouds.  As we passed over the mountains, they were covered in a blanket of snow and were absolutely magnificent!  Wish I would have gotten a picture of them, but I was too enraptured by them.

I took a short nap and awoke by the announcement that they had begun the descent.  I looked out the window & saw my Italy.  The brilliant green of the hills of Tuscany made me grin from ear to ear.  I felt the familiar feeling of contentment.  I was home!

After a perfect landing, decent bus ride to the terminal, and a short wait for my bags, I walked through the doors and sent Simone a text message that I was at the curb.  Within seconds, I saw him pull around with a big grin on his face.  I knew that I had missed him, but I hadn't realized how much until that moment.  A wonderful greeting accompanied by large grins and gleeful giggles.  Bags in the back and then we were off to the apartment that he found to rent.

The car ride took about 15 minutes or so from the airport to the outskirts of Signa.  The apartment is in a small village out in the countryside, near the Arno.  The owner, Francesco, met us there and discussed things with Simone.  I understood about half of what he was saying, which I thought was pretty good since I was exhausted!  For dinner that night, Simone cooked some riso dell'imperatore (Emperor's rice) with tomato and onion as well as some delicious crostini with onion, garlic and olive oil.

After the best night's sleep that I've had in months, we awoke to the sound of a sweet bird singing in the tree outside of our bedroom window.  The sun was out and it was a perfect morning.  We decided to go out and see the area, so we walked up and down the little street we are on and then hopped in the car for a drive up the mountain.  The views were spectacular.

View of the Arno from halfway up the mountain

View from the top of the mountain, overlooking Poggio a Caiano
My first 24 hours back in Italy were wonderful.  Stay tuned!

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