Although I won’t be able to post this for another day or so, I’m writing this sitting in the airport in Milano, waiting for our flight for Frankfurt. That was actually a hellish ordeal. Trying to just get our tickets to get on the plane took three hours, because you have to go back and forth between so many different counters it’s ridiculous! Italians like blonde hair, and since we have cowboy hats we stick out. The men at the airport are lovely and all want to know where we got our hats and where we live in America. The women….were not quite so helpful this morning.
Alora (well). Our trip….was everything I could have imagined and more. Our hosts were such incredibly lovely people that I personally learned a lot from…about dogs, cattle and strength of character. Natalia Estrada is a Spanish beauty who can put a stop on her colt that leaves you surprised with just how hard he tries to bury his ass in the dirt. She’s also a famous actress with a heart of gold. Drew Mischanti’s family has a ranch outside of Rome and his family has only ever stopped raising cattle twice….and that was for both crusades. I’m not even kidding.
We arrived in Milano and to our surprise Drew and Natalia picked us up in a Ford King Ranch pickup. I definitely wasn’t expecting that! On the way to their home, we stopped in a village that I can’t remember the name of and drove into a lovely farmhouse for a three hour dinner. There are no menus because everything that is served is grown or made within a one-mile radius to the farm. Innumerable courses later, we were on the road to the Rockin AN.
The rest of the week passed in a colored, lyrical blur of roping, riding, meeting new friends, passionate discussions about horsemanship and the “cowboy way of life,” cheat sheets of Italian words carried in back pockets and of course delicious food and drink. I met so many people who I really and truly felt connected with and was so touched to watch these Italian buckaroos work hard to rope the way they want, while I sometimes take it for granted because it’s so common here in the US. Silver bits and spurs glinted in the sun, Hamley saddles passed me by and all the while the beautiful, lilting music of the Italian language swirled around us. Yeah, I’m waxing poetic I know, I can’t help it right now, so give me a break.
There was a cow dog clinic and some of the cutest, well behaved puppies I’ve ever seen were started on some French cattle (GO CODY BALLARD!!) Adrian sang her little heart out and watching everyone mouth every word to Old Time Vaquero about made my heart split in two. I love it when other people adore my little sister almost as much as I do. Sunday we roped all day long, people jumping off and on horses, loaning each other their ponies and encouraging the newbies by calling out their names as they headed towards the herd. Tali (Natalia’s daughter) and I roped together and won the branding which was kind of fun and Adrian and I roped together but I’m afraid we didn’t do very well!
Sunday night a caravan of cars and pickups wound their way through the mountains and stopped and had the most delicious dinner of real pizza….just wow.
Adrian and I flew out of Milan with Italian dirt on our boots, new friendships in our hearts, rope burns on our palms and an excitement to return as soon as possible.
Thank you Drew and Natalia for such a wonderful time.
xo xo Liz