Cortina D’Ampezzo

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Driving around Northern Italy in winter is breath-taking.  It is a landscape of striking blue and white, even without snow, with early afternoon sunsets sharply angled over deep valleys filled with dark fir trees.

And beach chairs at 10,000 ft.

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The snow along the road is covered in tracks, of smooth cross-country skis and snowshoes, and little footprints of creatures fortunate enough to avoid the evening menu.  Northern Italians eat everything, gracefully wrapping it in ravioli dough or whipping it into a soufflé, and somehow turn barely edible things into things that are delicious.  We notice that they eat for a very long time and have a lot of drinks.  How do they do that?

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And everything is beautful.  It’s as if they’ve figured out the balance between innovation and preservation, and recognize what is perfect the way it is, without needing to make it “better.”  Food, clothes, cars, liquor, coffee, chocolate, shoes… Italians make the best of all of them. Cortina is a throw-back to an older era, where Italy’s best is on full display.

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As part of Tyrol, Northern Italian culture is both Italy and Austria, linked by a love of mountains, village life, fresh air, and activities that keep everyone outside.  Italy has more noodles and Austria has more sauerkraut, but otherwise they both love cheese, pork, après-ski, and climbing over the Alps all year long.  Ever since Mike bought the James Bond Movie Package three years ago and I saw Roger Moore in Cortina D’Ampezzo, the Tofana gondola has been on my bucket list.  I don’t even have a bucket list!

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Thanks, guys.  I hope you’re enjoying it up here!  James Bond would be proud.  Now stop throwing ice balls at each other!!

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There is Eli, making his way up to better snowball snow.

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And here is Jake, bringing up the attack from below.

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Back in town we had homemade tagliatelle and lasagna for lunch, and found an old bobsled from the 1956 Olympics in the restaurant’s front yard.

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We also skated on Cortina’s Olympic ice rink, where James Bond escaped the bad guys in For Your Eyes Only.  Jake raced around the rink on his new hockey skates and Eli and Daddy tried to skate backwards.  They both thought is was fun to sit in the penalty box.  The more I watch people ice skate, the more I realize that nobody really knows how to do it very well.  You can get a little better with practice, but mostly it’s just a huge exercise in humility.

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Back in town we saw a lot of super fancy people, like the kind of fancy where everyone’s dog is wearing a sweater and you wonder if the dog’s sunglasses cost $1,000, too.  Italians are subtle yet embellished in all things.  They aren’t afraid to be seen, and it seems like the men are more dolled up than the women.  Whether this is about being Italian or just being rich, I guess we don’t have the birthright to know.

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It is funny, though, when dogs walk by and pee on things that probably weren’t designed for dog pee.  All outdoor public art should be designed with the capacity to withstand dog pee.  Like these giant heads, or this giant book.

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I wonder sometimes, how much of all the stuff we do the boys will remember?  But I’m pretty sure that linking it to James Bond movies, snowballs, and dog pee is one way to make the memories stick.

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