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Dinner at Corte di Casale

Dinner at Corte di Casale

Dinner at

Corte di Casale

Vicenza

A Wednesday of August I went for dinner at Corte di Casale.

The Corte di Casale isn’t a restaurant, open every day for lunch or dinner; it’s an old villa usually booked for events, company dinners, weddings. Sometimes they organize a “tasting” dinner, where engaged couples or anyone interested can taste their dishes.

One of the best cuisines of the area, in my modest opinion.

The location

An old residence of the 1800s, with some rustic antiques, a big green area and a lot of nature around.

The details

Smoked mozzarella and taralli.

Starters

Prosciutto and melon.

Sopressa and figs. Love figs on the table!!

First courses

Risotto with Barolo wine, Belfiore apples, crunchy speck.

I’ve never had a better risotto in my life. 

 

“Bundle” with artichokes and king prawns, on a bed of valerian. 

Second courses

Sliced calf with berries and seasonal vegetables.

At this point I was quite full, but it was so good that I asked for a second portion (just one slice).

Great quality wine as always.

Dessert

Mojito sorbet and sponge cake with creams.

Follow their facebook page for updates on their next tasting dinner 🙂

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Georgia Diary

Georgia Diary

diary

georgia

photos and stories

the trip

Luca and I went to Georgia in June 2017.

It was a guy I met in Gjrokaster, Albania, who made me want to visit Georgia and Armenia. He said that these were his favorite countries (he visited plenty), but he decided to open and manage a hostel in Albania because he thought it had much potential. And I believe he was right.

Anyway, one year after Albania I was in Georgia.

 

Tbilisi, the capital, was the first stop. I was immediately fascinated by the elegant decadence of the Old Town.

We stayed in Tbilisi for a few days, I didn’t want to leave. The town is charming, food is delicious and guesthouse very welcoming.

The guesthouse!

Some pictures of the guesthouse, Skadaveli, that from outside seems to be falling down, but inside it’s all renovated and very warm and welcoming. In the historic centre of Tbilisi. So welcoming that I want to go back and just stay there for one month.

Breakfast was not included, but there was a small shop not far from the house selling fresh bread, cheese, tomatoes and eggs. The best breakfast.

There’s an antiques market in Tbilisi with many russian and Orthodox relics that I really liked. Sort of an open-air museum.

 

For a couple of days we walked around the Old Town, the markets, the castle, the Baths…

 

Davit Gareja

Public transport is quite efficient in Georgia, and moving from one part of the country to the other is pretty easy. But not to Davit Gareja, a monastery in a semi-deserted area at about 2 hours drive from Tbilisi, near the border with Azerbaijan. To go there we took a tourist minibus leaving at 11am from the center of the town. You get there that it’s very hot, you can visit the monastery and in a couple of hours you can walk around the hill where you can see some caves with frescoes that are part of another monastery. All very interesting. And amazing panorama.

 

Oasi Club

Going back from Davit Gareja we stopped in a hostel-campsite for lunch/coffee/snacks. An amazing place, seems out of the world, with grazing pigs, horses, hammocks, good food, a lot of books. A place to go back to and stay for a few days, even though sleeping and eating there is slightly more expensive than in the city. 

Other than Davit Gareja, we did another day trip while staying in Tbilisi.

Mtskheta

The spiritual capital of Georgia, Mtskheta isn’t very far from Tbilisi and can be reached by Marshrutky, the public buses of Georgia.

One early morning we left to go to Armenia, about which I will write in another post…

Below continues the trip in Georgia. 

Akhaltsikhe & Vardzia

We went back to Tbilisi on a minibus from Armenia. After a short wait we got on another bus to Akhaltsikhe.

Along the road we passed through Borjomi, a quiet resort with thermal waters, surrounded by nature. Having more time, it would have been nice to stop there for a bit. Backpacking it’s nice to stop in a quiet place to rest from time to time.

In Akhaltsikhe there’s a castle that has been recently refurbished, pretty but seems fake, but the town is famous for Vardzia, a caves village. Born as a monastery, Vardzia grew into a small town that could host up to 2,000 monks.  A very special place, not to miss. 

Unfortunately with public transport you are not free to travel at the time you want, I would have liked to be there for sunset, but we had to take the bus back to Akhaltsikhe (I am traveling on a budget, I can’t afford a taxi for 60 km). 

Akhaltsikhe town

Pretty and comfortable. Guesthouse brand new, very clean and very welcoming. 

I must say that guesthouses in Georgia are very good. 

Vardzia

Vardzia. Hot hot hot. It’s recommended to bring a lot of water from the town, as there are no villages near Vardzia, just a small restaurant with a nice terrace, but to visit the site you need a couple of hours and there’s no water on the hill. 

The North

After Vardzia e Akhaltsikhe we went North.

We hadn’t booked any place for the night because we weren’t sure where we would stop.

The fist minibus took us to Kutaisi. I was thinking of stopping there, but it was very hot and the city seemed so big, I thought it would be difficult to find a place to stay.

So we took another bus to Zugdidi. We were also thinking of Batumi, a holiday resort by the Black Sea, but we didn’t have the time during this trip. We preferred to focus on other parts of Georgia.

Zugdidi seemed a bit anonymous. The interesting side of this town is that it’s near the border with Abkhazia, and in the last decades Zugdidi has hosted many refugees from this part of the world.

There’s a nice museum/palace with a beautiful park.

For many it’s the departure point for Mestia and the Svaneti mountains.

This is just a small preview of Svaneti, because I want to write a whole post about the trekking here. It was the best part of our trip in Georgia.

Mestia, Ushguli e Svaneti

Svaneti belongs to the Caucasus and it is the highest inhabited area in Europe.

From Mestia we hiked for three days up to Ushguli, three days in the nature, among fields in bloom, glaciers and old villages with the traditional medieval towers.

I didn’t really want to leave the little paradise that is Svaneti, but the trip must go on.

There was a minivan going directly to Tbilisi, fortunately, but the trip was quite long anyway, we arrived in Tbilisi at 7pm.

The Skadaveli guesthouse was fully booked, so we decided to rent a room in the new part of the town.

Very nice there too.

Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue is a walking street completely renovated, with pretty pastel houses, small restaurants and many clubs. Very touristic, but pretty nonetheless.

Tbilisi New Town

Kazbegi

The following day we left for Kazbegi, about three hours away, on a marhrutky.

Kazbegi is in the mountains (near the border with Russia), famous for a church on a hill overlooking the town.

Tsminda Sameba Church (not easy at all Georgian names) can be reached on a easy hike, the path is steep but short.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stop for too long here neither, there are some nice hiking trails to be tested.

The following day we left.

Marshrutky to Tbilisi (basically you need to go back to Tbilisi almost any time you move from one part to the other of Georgia) then another to Sighnaghi.

Kakheti

Sighnaghi

Kakheti is the main region for the production of wine in Georgia.

We stayed a couple of nights in Sighnaghi, a pretty little town, and we stayed in a guesthouse overlooking the valley.

On the way to Telavi

From Sighnaghi we took part to a tour organized from our guesthouse to take us to Telavi. We took advantage of this tour, so that on the way to Telavi we could stop at a monastery, at the house-museum of Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, at a winery with a museum and the qvevri, large terracotta pots buried in the ground, the way wine is traditionally made in Georgia.

Telavi

Telavi is a bit too modern maybe, with some picturesque corner, very welcoming indeed.

Once we put foot out of the guesthouse to visit the town, we met a guy on a bench who invited to his house to drink Georgian wine and eat some snacks (probably I don’t have big memories of Telavi because we spent most of our time with our new friend). 

At dinner we decided to eat at the guesthouse. The host cooked so much for us! And everything was delicious, another proof of the quality of Georgian cuisine.

Last days in Tbilisi

And here we are, at the end of the trip. Last couple of days in Tbilisi before we go back to Italy. 

We walked around the old town again, always charming, we also went back to the new town to take some pictures in the night, and one early morning we flew back home.

GEORGIA ON THE TABLE

Short recap of the delicious dishes of Georgia.

It’s Going to be Awesome!

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Hiking between Marana and Montefalcone

Hiking between Marana and Montefalcone

Hiking between

Marana and Montefalcone

among clouds and nature

Last Sunday I went hiking with my brother on the mountains not far from home.

Wanted to go to Cima Marana how we often do during the year, but instead of taking one of the most common paths, those starting from Contrada Gebbani (or Castagna) and going up directly to Cima Marana, we chose Sentiero 203, that from Gebbani goes to Malga Casoline and ends at the dirty road that goes from Piatta di Montefalcone.

The sentiero 203

Taking the path that starts between the Gebbani and Castagna contrade that goes directly up to Cima Marana (the path we call “of the ridge”), not far from the departure point there’s fork: to the left you go to the Marana peak, to the right you go to Malga Casoline, that is Path no. 203.

Here we were close to Malga Casoline, at about one hour from departure.

The 203 is longer and a bit harder than the other paths that go to Cima Marana, but it’s almost entirely in the shade and it crosses a beautiful forest.

Passo della Porta

After about 2 hours of hiking (consider that I’m not very fit), we got to Passo della Porta, along the dirty road that connects Campodavanti to Montefalcone.

Instead of walking on the road to go to Montefalcone, we decided to walk on the ridge. 

But on the other side of the mountain there was quite some fog, adn we could see nothing.

The view from up there is amazing.

I know because I took the same path one year ago, in a nice sunny day.

That is why I am showing you here the pictures I too one year ago. 

The ridge one year ago

You can see the Carega peak and Rifugio Fraccaroli from up there, if it’s not foggy or raining.

Towards Montefalcone

It might have been foggy, but I managed to find some pretty cute things that deserved a photograph.

And finally, the Rifugio Montefalcone

It took us more than half an hour to get to the lodge from Passo della Porta, partly because I was starting to feel tired and the ridge has some pretty hard climbs, partly because I was taking pictures on the way. 

Lunch at Rifugio Montefalcone with minestrone soup and red fruits strudel 🙂

Towards Cima Marana

After a short siesta we left for Cima Marana.

Again, beautiful landscape and nature, despite the fog. 

what about these roots???

Cima Marana is one of the southernmost peaks of the Dolomites, and one of the lowest.

At 1554 meters above sea level, it has a special view of the Chiampo and Agno valleys and you can even see the Garda Lake and Venice Lagoon on bright clear days.

It’s a shame there’s always someone who leaves some garbage behind. 

I collected 5 cigarette butts, only around the cross of Cima Marana.

 

The descent towards the Gebbani was a bit hard for me, I was feeling more and more tired and my knees were starting to ache. 

but I love this itinerary so much, I’m looking forward to the next time!

It’s Going to be Perfect!

vieni con me!

Laita

Laita

Bruschetta at

Laita

La contrada del gusto

I was recently at the Laita, la contrada del gusto, for dinner; one of the collest places in my area, the “Valle del Chiampo”.

It’s an old contrada renovated and converted into an elegant restaurant, a bruschetteria and gelateria.

I took so many pictures that night that I decided to make a blog post out of it.

 

The location

These old stone houses are one of our richest heritage. 

Surrounded by the nature of the Alta Valle del Chiampo.

With style.

Grandparents’ bed.

Aperitivo wigh fried gnocco and pancetta.

Sambuca syrup, durello wine and lemon. 

The Food

Bruschetta with Burlino caciotta, smoked trout in cubes, saor, apple, fresh baby spinach.

Bread: wholegrain ciabatta with rye flour. 

Coppa gelato (you would have enough for dinner just with this one).

Laita’s has recently been voted 7th best Italian icecream parlour.

Gelato at Laita’s deserves its own space because it’s a unique experience.

Particularly the affogato.

and when night comes…

It’s the attention to details that makes this place so special, from the ingredients of the dishes to the smallest flower on display.

definitely recommended…

It’s Going to be Perfect!

come with me!

London Planning

London Planning

I’m so excited, I’m going to London very soooonnn!! I am staying at friends’, so I don’t need to look for an accommodation, but I only have 3 days and so many places I want to go back, I need to plan my visit carefully.

I lived in London for 4 years, between 2005 and 2010. It’s such a vibrant city, you surely can’t get bored here, and I loved it. I loved its parks, its musical shows, the architecture, the Thames, the markets, the pubs. Even the cemeteries! Living there was really nice, but I missed family and friends, and decided to move back to Italy.

And after 7 years I am finally going back. While I was living there, I was coming home every two months, so when I left London I thought I wouldn’t have missed it much as I could always come back, once or twice per year. But I didn’t. I don’t know why. And now, looking again at the tube map, at the name of the places that I almost forgot, I get emotional.

London Planning Ahead

So, as I mentioned I am staying only for the weekend, and I have to select the places I don’t want to miss and think of a rough itinerary. I know I want to go to Notting Hill, Borough Market, South Bank, Brick Lane, Canary Wharf if I manage to, possibly the famous and new Sky Garden (it wasn’t there 7 years ago), Hyde Park. I would also like to go to Putney, where I used to live, but I don’t think I will have time for it. London must have changed so much, I am really curious.

london

Transportation in London

I am not sure my Oyster card is still working. It’s a card that you buy (I think it’s 5 pounds), but you can have a refund if you give it back once you leave London; you have to top it up and you can travel anywhere. If you plan to use the tube quite often, you should buy a one week travelcard (with Oyster it’s cheaper than the paper card) or check at the TFL (Transport For London) website what the best option is. And the coolest part is that even if you don’t buy a one day card with your Oyster, you still get charged up to the cost of the day card; every time that you travel, the cost of the trip is taken from your Oyster, but up to the maximum cost of a day card. This is what I used to do. I used my Oyster, and already at the second trip it would only take the money up to the day ticket. Public transport in London is quite expensive, but if you buy a travel card, or even better an Oyster, it’s more affordable.

I am super excited because there’s a pretty good bike rental net now in London. I have always owned a bike while I was living there. Cycling to work was a great booster and quite often I also cycled to Soho or Old Street to meet with friends. On Sundays I was cycling to visit new places. It would have been sad to go back to London and take bus or tube all the time (you can’t really walk from one place to another in London, it’s too big), but this new bike rentals think has made me the happiest girl in the world. And it’s actually fairly cheap. You pay 2 pounds per day, and every time you take a bike you have 30 minutes free. So, for example you can rent a bike in Hyde Park and cycle to Piccadilly, park your bike, visit a bit on foot, take another bike and cycle to St. Peter’s, park and walk to South Bank, and so on.

There’s an excellent app where you can check where to park and where you can find available bikes. You can also choose the best itinerary for you.

Things I want to do in London

There are a few things I used to do in London that I miss:

  1. Visit a Charity Shop. I don’t know how many second-hand books I have bought while I was living there. Charity Shops were my favorite, for books and other stuff. I could please my random need of spending money and feel good at the same time.
  2. British Breakfast. Oh, I miss hash browns and beans so much! I must have one English Breakfast at least once.
  3. Read in a cemetery. In Summer months it was my favorite activity. After work I often stopped at a cemetery on the way home, and spend one hour there, relaxing and reading. There’s a different attitude towards cemeteries than there is in Italy: you can often walk through them, families have picnics, you meet friends, you go jogging, they are almost like parks. And I love it. You get to live with the passed ones as if they were there again.
  4. Have a beer at a pub along the Thames. There are so many gorgeous pubs along the river in London! I worked in one of them, and it was super popular, in particular on Sundays. But there are some that are even better. I have great memories of time spent at pubs. In particular watching the World Cup with friends.
  5. Enjoy the view of London from the Tate Modern. You have a great view over London and in particular St. Paul’s from a terrace on the third floor of the Tate Modern. And entrance is free.

So, two days to go and I’m super happy. Hopefully it won’t be 7 years again before I go back to London.

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