Apr 11, 2006

SANT'ANGELO, Ischia, Italy – I've never rearranged blazing logs with an iBook on my lap before. The satisfaction of this experience leads me to believe I could live in Europe again. Or in a yurt perhaps.

But I'd have to stop shaving. Nope. Scratch that. My hairy mountain-guide days are done, I think.

Today dawned cold and rainy on Ischia, Capri's sister-island in the Gulf of Naples. Sant' Angelo – a pedestrian-only village at the road's southern terminus – has no Internet access for visitors. I was flummoxed.

"Just take the bus to Panza," my host Eugenio explained.

"Signore," I longed to shout, "I'm from Seattle, where the metro buses have wifi. When my office connection failed, I discovered seven open networks in a residential neighborhood. The Internet is like air – inescapable and free."

Of course, I say nothing. Toto, we are a long, long way from the Emerald City. And courtesy is key.

Courtesy is, in fact, what solves my dilemma. On arrival yesterday, I found the pensione empty. I ditched my luggage and retired to Bar Pirata for a drink, as is customary on arrival in Sant' Angelo.

I spotted a titanium Powerbook at the register. "Lei ha anche un Mac. Complimenti," I told the swashbuckling Pirate Captain Carlo. (You also have an Apple. My compliments.)

Suddenly I was plugged into – seemingly – the only high-speed link for miles.

Complimenti, indeed.

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