Getting to Italy and setting up.
To return legally, which is very important to me, Emily and I had to obtain Visas, which allow us to stay for a longer period of time. This was our first real interaction with Italian bureaucracy, which is an experience unto itself. We had to do the application in Chicago, as it is the location that has Colorado in it's area. We could not make an appointment in Italy, as 800 numbers simply do not work here. We could download applications and try to figure out which Visa to apply for. Requirements for the Visa included, evidence of a long term rental to stay, confirmed airline reservations to return, along with many others. It seemed wrong to me to have to make a number of financial commitments when we did not even have an appointment in Chicago, and did not know really how long it would take to get this effort completed. Upon my return, I called the number to make an appointment at the Italian Consulate in Chicago, then made airline reservations to go there. I assembled all the paperwork required, and off we went. I should note that there is no way to contact the Consulate to ask any questions regarding the application, which was disconcerting. Anyway, we went to Chicago, visiting some good friends from College, and the application process went smoothly. While they could not tell us the outcome of the application, the person we spoke with hinted strongly that there would be no problem. We received our passports back from the Consulate within a week, and they had the visas attached. I did not note that one of the requirements was to leave your passport with the Consulate, which was again, disconcerting.
Armed with our visa's, we returned to Italy. I had obtained keys for the apartment we had the lease for before we left, which I had left with our Daughter. I picked up the keys on the way from the airport, and got into the apartment easily. Emily was on a different flight, as she was bringing our (her) cat, which took lots of bureaucratic effort. The apartment was mostly empty, with a couple of wardrobes and a trundle bed. The next day, we did a major shopping trip to IKEA to buy most of the items we needed for the apartment. We had done lots of research about which items to purchase, and with Kate's help in the morning (her Italian is perfect, and communicating and setting up delivery needs good language skills) we returned with her car filled with stuff. We unloaded in a rainstorm, and started taking apart the boxes and setting up. The delivery pieces were at the apartment the next morning, and we spent the entire day putting together the many pieces. We had a bed, sofa, chairs, etc. to make the apartment livable now. Our friends from Crested Butte, Don and Kay, were here for a month's visit, and they help some with the set up.
The next day, I finally got on my bike and had a ride with Don and Kay, who were here basically to ride. Don, Kay, and I did quite a bit of riding in the next few weeks. I had to temper my time with the many commitments to babysit, etc., which was the biggest reason we were here. The grandchildren are a blast, and we want to be a part of their lives growing up. Don and Kay spent 9 days in a town called Pescia, and I joined for three days and nights of riding. The riding there is really special. Kay's facebook page documents the riding well. I started to use facebook to record my rides and promote the business, which can be accessed at Mark Collins' facebook page.
I enjoy recording my rides, and will start logging in my rides here rather than facebook daily or at least when I ride. I am taking a camera along most days and will post photos as well.