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Tales from the Tirol – Part 1 of 6

May 16, 2014

This is the first installment of Tales from the Tirol.

We always have classic mixed emotions about returning home to the Tirol. Ja, das ist der Land meines Volkes. But, it is also 6,000 miles away from what we now call home in North Carolina and now technically in Italy; technically being a result of Austria losing World War I. We are heading back to a time and place not seen nor understood by most Americans. We have lived there for 12 years so we understand it pretty well. We love it in fact but it is so very different than North Carolina.

My wife and I laugh on the plane. We soon will be trading Walmarts for the familiar Läden (shops) of Meran and the hayfields of the upper Val di Non. We’re only on our second plane and already we are both dead tired. Door to door means 24 hours of straight, brutal travel and we’re trying to buck up for the long haul across the Atlantic Ocean. “Excuse me miss, could you just leave the whole bottle with the next glass of wine?”

Settling for a second glass (we’re in coach, after all), I begin to play the trivia game on the screen attached to the seat in front of me. I am soon reminded that touch screens are not that accurate with the passenger in front of you heaving around in his seat. Oh well. I finish the 20 questions, log in my unbeatable high score and settle back into my uncomfortable seat. I watch the clouds go by beneath us and begin to think about why I’m on this plane to start with.

Twelve years ago, we thought it to be a brilliant idea to retire very early and move to northern Italy. Armed with little more than stubborn desire, we left our home in Eugene, Oregon for the complete unknown of Tret, Italy high in the Dolomite Alps. We were so very unprepared that it never dawned on us that the people in our new home do not speak Italian or even German. They communicate in Gemischtsprachen (mixed language) that includes the local language known as Nones. To our great relief, we found that some people in our village actually do speak Italian, German and even occasionally a tiny bit of English. As we learned more and more each day about our new home, we both became intrigued at the cultural differences we were experiencing. It was both an exhilarating and frustrating education, rolled together much in the same fashion as the local Knödel dumplings.

After a few months of living in the Val di Non in Italy’s Trento Province, I began to write down short little sketches to portray what we were experiencing on a day to day basis. I camouflaged some of the frustration we felt with humor and added written portraits of some of our new neighbors as well. Over several years, the result morphed itself into an interesting book titled Our First Year – Sketches from an Alpine Village. Told through short, often humorous sketches, this book introduces the reader to life in Italy’s South Tirol region through the eyes of newly arrived American residents. The sketches are centered in our small alpine village of Tret. The people, language, and customs in our tiny village are examined through a narrative of everyday living. Our First Year – Sketches from an Alpine Village was intended to provide laughs and tears for both American and European readers alike. Judging from the many comments I have received since the book’s appearance on a little over a year ago, it has succeeded in this endeavor. But the book has also drawn the interest of many people in the United States who simply want to know what it’s really like to live abroad. Hopefully, the book has provided these folks with a bit of a springboard for their own adventures.

Well, we are about to land in Milano. While I couldn’t finagle more than the second glass of wine on my flight, I now smile to myself as I think of the liters of that great grape stuff in our Keller that wait for our arrival. Willkommen zu Hause!


This book is available on as an e-book for only $3.99. The print version is also  available internationally at $9.99. You can reach me anytime at where you can also find a complete book listing and other information.

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    Looking back 6 years – Part 1 of 6


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