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.
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!
Last Monday (April 25 is Liberation Day, a National Holiday in Italy) I took a walk on the hills near home, in San Zeno of Arzignano, during the local “sagra”, a food and cultural festival that takes place every year in my village.
The “sagra” is spread in two weekends and it’s very well organized, considering San Zeno is a very small village. Every day there’s something different in the menu: porchetta (roasted pork), risotto, paella, fried fish, etc. There’s a photography exhibition and contest (I won the third prize this year 🙂 ), a vintage motorbikes show, a music festival for teenagers (I get emotional at hearing these youngster singing with so much passion and talent).
The walk takes place on April 25. As usual I loved walking in the nature and seeing the old houses in the countryside. Plus, it’s an occasion to meet new and old friends, your neighbors that you don’t have the chance to meet often. And there’s always some food. At half walk we could eat loads of “panini” with home-made salami, cheese and peppers. A pleasure for the palate and the soul.
Below is a short video I made of the walk in San Zeno, hope you’ll enjoy it.
My experience on the Floating Piers on Lake Iseo was not the happiest. It was very tiring and a bit unsuccessful.
The Floating Piers is a work by the Bulgarian-American artist Christo on Lake Iseo. It consists in 3 kilometers of polyethylene boardwalk (covered in a yellow tissue) that connects Sulzano, a small village on the shores of the lake, to Monte Isola and another small and private island. The work of art is free, open to public and walkable for about 2 weeks, from June 18th to July 3rd, 2016.
I went there yesterday, Wednesday, in the afternoon, because I was told that it’s less crowded in the afternoon and on weekdays. Yesterday it was not. It was crazy. We could tell it from the traffic on the road to get to the Lake. From home it took us three hours instead of two. You can’t drive into Sulzano, from where the Floating Piers start, which is a very small village and couldn’t welcome all the people flocking to the work of art. So there are other options to get there: you can either drive or take a train to one of the other villages around the lake and from there take a bus, a ferry or a train to Sulzano or Monte Isola. But none of those ways of transport is simple (or guarantee you will be able to get to the Floating Piers); most ferries are booked, buses are slow, trains are irregular. We went to Marone, north of Sulzano, because I was told that from the northern part of the lake it’s easier to get to Sulzano than from Iseo, in the South, where most people go. Still, we had to wait for one hour for the train from Marone to Sulzano, because Sulzano was congested, and people were not allowed in for some time. Once we got to Sulzano, the situation was even worse. We had to queue for almost 3 hours before we could get onto the boardwalk. I admired all those kids that queued with us, they were very brave.
While on the queue, we heard some people that left Bologna at 7 am; they were queuing with us at 9 pm because once in Brescia they were told that Sulzano was closed. They had to wait various hours in Brescia before they could come to the lake.
We got onto the Floating Piers at 9.30 pm. And we could only stay for about 10 minutes, because it was late and probably the last train back to Marone was at 10.20 pm. I say “probably” because nothing seemed to be clear and certain. On the timetable at the station the last train was specified at 10.20, but the lady that sold us the tickets said the last train was at midnight. To be on the safe side, and not to have to walk 1 hour and a half back, we decided to take the train earlier. And anyway we had 2 more hours drive to go home, it was getting really late.
It was nice to walk on the Floating Piers. Nothing really exciting though; I think most people like the idea of being part of something that has been publicized so much. I like that you can walk to an island when normally you can only take a ferry there. But I would have liked to enjoy it for longer; the plan was to be there by 5 or max 6 pm, and walk a couple of hours.
Why are the Floating Piers so popular? Or crowded? Probably if they were there for more than 2 weeks, the visits wouldn’t be so concentrated. So, why is it available only for 2 weeks? Is it because it needs lots of maintenance? Or because the holiday season has started and the hotels by the lake need some quiet for their guests? I don’t know.
Anyway, I have just checked the live camera of the square in front of the city hall where we spent 2 hours yesterday, and there’s no queue at all today. So I was really unlucky. And I’m even more upset. I wish I had gone today instead. What I complain about is that there was not enough information. Yesterday, in the morning, before we started our trip to Sulzano, I checked the official website of the Floating Piers; there’s a “news” section and the last news was from June 25th (yesterday it was the 29th); no news about a congestion in town, so I thought that everything was fine. If I had been advised that it was particularly crowded, I wouldn’t have gone and like me I think many people. Probably not those that left at 7 am to get there, but those living a bit closer like me, I’m sure they would have preferred to go today and spend less time on a queue.
I also lament that after so many hours of queue you still had to wait to leave Sulzano. To go north it was ok, we “only” had to wait for 40 minutes (the train was actually at 10.40, not 10.20 as on the timetable ). But the queue to go to Iseo and Brescia was crazy. Why can’t you arrange more trains when you know that there are so many people that want to leave the town? I felt like the whole thing was really badly organized.
Maybe they weren’t expecting so many people, but they could have done something to improve the situation. They could at least have avoided more waiting for those that wanted to leave this unrepeatable (because it’s extremely exciting or extremely tiring, it’s up to you) experience, the Floating Piers.
Last weekend (April 9-11, 2016) about 150 makers of natural wine introduced their produce in Villa Favorita, in the countryside of Vicenza, in occasion of the event organized by VinNatur. VinNatur is an association of wine producers born in 2006 that every year holds this event at about the same time of Vinitaly, the wine exhibition held in Verona (April 10-13 in 2016), to give its associated the opportunity to showcase their wines.
The wines presented at the VinNatur are as natural as a wine can be. There’s a minimal intervention in the making, both in the land, in the grapes and in the wine, there’s no use of chemical additives nor pesticide (for more information, check VinNatur website).
For me, what makes VinNatur so special is that the event takes place in a beautiful ancient villa, Villa da Porto, also called “La Favorita“. The villa was built between 1714 and 1715 for Giovanni Battista da Porto, based on a design by architect Francesco Muttoni.
The wine tasting is inside the villa; the upper floor still displays some frescoes, and gives an idea of the opulence of the villa during its happiest time; the lower floor is more rustic, looks like a cellar with archways. Some producers even brought a piece of the land where their vines grow; it was quite interesting.
Outside the villa there’s a beautiful garden, where a big tent was set up for food and drinks and some live music. Luckily the weather was great, so many people sat on the grass to enjoy their meal and wine, picnic-style.
On the side of the main building there are two “barchessa”, rural service buildings that were used as stables and host to the farmers’ families. Nowadays the barchessa are quite often more fascinating than the main building.
Normally Villa Favorita is closed to public, it can only be rented for weddings or events; so the VinNatur is a great opportunity not only to taste some great natural wine, but also to visit this little jewel.
Recently I have re-discovered how pleasant it is to go to the street market.
Here in Arzignano the appointment is every Tuesday morning. I remember as a student, I liked to go to the market when I was on holiday, it was an occasion to meet my friends that went to different schools. When I finished school I lost interest in the market, also because I was either in Bologna at uni or at work.
I have always considered the weekly market a place for students or housewives, but recently I’ve found new interest in it as a perfect place where to explore the “local life” of a small town in the countryside of Italy. I think it’s because of my grown passion for photography; photography has helped me look at my hometown Arzignano with different eyes: I appreciate more the old houses, the alleys, the small squares, the lamp posts and the events that take place here. Market included.
I work from home, so walking to the market has become for me a good excuse to do some exercise and to see something different from my computer screen. It started as an excuse and has become a weekly need.
The market as a shopping experience
At the market you can find anything you need: from kitchen utensils to electronic devices, from chinese cheap clothes to last year’s designer t-shirts; but my favorite stalls are those selling food and flowers. The love with which the artichokes are displayed, the inviting smell of fried fish, the cheese from the mountains nearby, the colorful flowers: I love to walk around the stalls and look at their produce and the people.
The People. The street market is also The People. Yes, because going to the market is a different way of doing shopping, much more personal than going to the supermarket or a big shop. You don’t have to wonder around the aisles looking for the socket you need; you can ask the lady which pot is best for your Ossobuco or which plant is more suitable for your terrace; you don’t pick your cauliflower from a basket or the mozzarella from a fridge, you’re helped with a smile by someone that was just waiting for you.
The market as a social event
Arzignano is not a very lively town, but on Tuesday mornings it revives: it’s difficult to find a parking lot, you have to wait a bit longer for your cappuccino and you can hardly find a table to sit; there’s a lot of chatting and music and action.
Seniors meet their friends at the market instead of the bar where they usually play cards; housewives gossip a bit between a lettuce and a bunch of fresh flowers; Eastern Europe caregivers take their patients to the market and with the occasion meet their nationals; Indian women enjoy a stroll in the sun and buy some clothes for their children.
On Tuesday mornings in Arzignano there’s no ethnic segregation, no Ghanians on one bench and posh Italians sipping spritz aperol at the café. For once, we are all mixed together and we enjoy a moment of distraction and conviviality.
You can follow my weekly appointments with the market on Instagram: martedialmercato .
Yesterday in Arzignano I participated to one of those walks that are organized around Italy all year round, but mainly in Spring, when it is not too cold nor too hot, and nature is blooming, the perfect conditions for this type of activities.
It was a walk among cherry blossoms, old unbalanced houses, amazing wild flowers and ancient villas up for sale.
Usually at these walks there are paths of different lengths; yesterday you could choose to walk 6, 12 or 18 kilometers (about 4, 8 or 12 miles). Along the way there are some “ristori”, refreshment areas, where you can eat and drink something.
I really enjoy these walks because they take you to discover your own region; for example, I had never been before on these hills at just 10 km from home. And the view from there was breathtaking. Plus, you get to walk with dogs that are so happy that they run like crazy and children that proudly walk their first 6 km on a row. The event was a true mood-enhancing. At the end of the 15 km I could actually barely walk, but I was very happy.
This event was particularly important because it was also organized to raise funds for the research on Cystic Fibrosis.
These walks are a mix of nature, food and socializing; they are a great way to meet new and old friends, spend some time in the nature and discover the territory.
I have always loved traveling, since I was in my mother's womb. I love to see new places, meet new cultures, eat the food of the world. Recently I discovered that pictures can sometimes show more than I can do