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Tag Archives: Rasciesa

Training cats

2 Jul
2 July 2016. Cats are considered untrainable, for the most part. They use the litterbox, but beyond that, it is pretty difficult to train a cat, unless you live in Italy and can take your cat on the train! Yes, Janie and LibbyJean are on vacation in the Dolomites. A few days ago we loaded them on a Trenitalia Frecciargento bound for Bolzano, where Taxi Ivan Moroder met us for the trip to Ortisei. In years past, Ric and I have taken the pullman (bus) service, which is very nice; However, with the cats along plus luggage and supplies for a month, we popped for a transfer service. It was so nice we may never take the bus again.
Janie showed a lot curiosity on the train.

Janie showed a lot curiosity on the train.

Libby hyperventilated much of the time. They don't find the train as relaxing as we do.

Libby hyperventilated much of the time. They don’t find the train as relaxing as we do.

I cannot say the cats enjoyed the train; they tolerated it. You can take a cat on a train without paying, but the cat has to go in the luggage storage area, which is very limited and they would be subject to constant disruption including people poking fingers in their crates. So we bought four standard-class seats at the super-economy rate of €29.00 per occupant. The capotreno never batted an eyelash at two seats occupied by cats. We let them take turns sitting (crated) on the table so they could see us and look out the window, which seemed to entertain Janie, who at 20 is ever-adaptable, in particular. Libby is not fond of strangers nor strange situations and even hissed at a little girl who got too close to her kennel. 
The long trip was worth it and the girls seem to have taken to the new digs, with a sunny terrace overlooking the village. 
A terrace with a view, even for cats. We see them peeking out between the slats on the railing.

A terrace with a view, even for cats. We see them peeking out between the slats on the railing.

Sunrise on the iconic Sassolungo as seen from our terrace.

Sunrise on the iconic Sassolungo as seen from our terrace.

Our terrace overlooks the lovely village of Ortisei.

Our terrace overlooks the lovely village of Ortisei.

We have an incredible apartment at Residence Astoria (#5 if you want to take a peek) with views over the valley and up Mont Seuc. We can see the round red cable cars rising from the valley to the top of Mont Seuc and if we peer around the corner of the terrace we can see the Sassalungo. Last summer we enjoyed our two weeks in Ortisei so much we decided to go for four weeks this year and take the cats along. We really do miss the girls incredibly when we are gone, and while during our significant travels there has been a parade of fabulous cat sitters (you know who you are!), we decided to close up the city apartment like so many Romans do when they go on summer holiday. Lots of apartments allow dogs but not cats. Then we met Justine and Siegfried who said yes to cats, but no dogs as they have their own cat. We signed up on the spot. 
My favorite hiking companion neare teh chapel at Rasciesa.

My favorite hiking companion near the chapel at Rasciesa.

Me on the Rasciesa hike.

On the Rasciesa hike.

We have already put in two days of hiking but are taking it easy adjusting versus last year when we pushed it the first day. See my entry for July 6, 2015, in this too-long post about hiking last year. This year we took one of our favorite hikes on Day 1, the Rasciesa Ridge, but it still tired us out. We walk a lot in Rome and everywhere we travel and would expect to have greater endurance; However, when we consider that Rome is sea level and flat, while Rasciesa is at about 2100 meters/6900 feet, no wonder we felt the exertion. 
Day 2, today, saw us on a forested path overlooking the valley. We got some kilometers in and managed to return to town moments before a huge thunderstorm hit. The weather is really everything we hoped it would be. The high today was about 21 Celcius/70 Fahrenheit. In Rome it was 34 C/93 F. I needed a sweater to go to dinner last night. It’s a nice temperature range for outdoor activity. 
Colorful bicycles are all over the village of Selva, celebrating the Sellaronda.

Colorful bicycles are all over the village of Selva, celebrating the Sellaronda.

Noah's Arc fountain in Selva, just down teh valley from Ortisei.

Noah’s Arc fountain in Selva, just up the valley from Ortisei.

We will suffer through August in Rome, taking walks at 06:00 and hiding in the apartment during the hottest hours as much as possible. The beauty of Rome in August is that so many people leave the city that traffic is greatly diminished making sleeping more peaceful and the streets less chaotic. 
I am not sure how much I will blog this month. I am hoping to read more and study Italian when I am not out busting my butt on the trails. We shall see. So for now, we wish you all a great summer, and Happy Independence Day to our compatriots in the U.S! 
How to know when you are in the part of Italy that was formerly Austria. There's nothing like a beer at elevensies!

How to know when you are in the part of Italy that was formerly Austria. There’s nothing like a beer at elevensies!

 

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Hiking in the Dolomites, July 2015

25 Jul
25 July 2015. This post may be a bore for some readers, but at least the pictures are pretty. I am writing it mostly so I have a good reference for “what I did on my summer vacation” and can remember which hikes to do and not to do next summer.
For hiking enthusiasts, especially those who are “of a certain age” this may be a reference for hikes in the Dolomites that do not require pitons, crampons, or the energy of a 30-year-old. Many of the guidebooks talk about “easy hikes” and then do not tell you about the knee-pounding descents or heart-pounding ascents, not to mention narrow trails above steep ravines and gorges. Some so-called “easy” hikes end up being 4+ hours. We can do that now-and-then, but not every day.
FYI, the pedometer readings include everything for the day, whether on the trail or walking to dinner or to get groceries.
This is an abbreviated version, believe it or not. It was a very active two weeks!

Monday, July 6 – Long way down: Rasciesa to Ortisei via Val d’Anna

We happened upon this carving in the middle of the forest, unsigned, a  gift from a local woodcarver.

During our descent, we happened upon this carving in the middle of the forest, unsigned, a gift from a local woodcarver.

We arrived in Ortisei on Sunday afternoon in the middle of their sagra and settled in. It was HOT so we decided to take it easy with a mostly downhill hike through the forest on Monday. WRONG! We ascended via a funicolare at Rasciesa which we have done many times prior. Rather than hike the sun-exposed Rasciesa plateau in the heat and humidity, we decided to take “easy” Trail #35 east, descending on Trail #9.  Bad move. It was a knee-jarring, quadriceps-pounding, mostly-exposed, slippery-rock-studded mistake. Three-and-a-half hours of downhill tromping made us wonder why we came on vacation. Now we know why we saw only mountain bikes and no other walkers. Actually, it would not have been so bad had we not missed our turn to a planned rifugio where we could have rested and had some refreshment (hiking goes better with strudel), followed by a wooded path following a burbling stream through a valley. Oh, would-that-had-happened! One sign pointed downhill to the rifugio, but when we were 100 meters down the hill, another sign pointed back the direction we had come. In frustration, and believing ourselves to be near the finish-line, we carried on, but it was another hour to the bottom. Ugh! It was a good workout in terms of calorie-burning, and at least we were in good enough shape we could still get out of bed the next morning.
Pedometer: Didn’t freaking work! Estimate 8 km for the day.

Tuesday, July 7 – Abandoning waterfalls for high ground: Monte Pana to Saltria

VIew from the trail to Saltria.

View from the trail to Saltria.

Planning an easy hike today, we took the bus to the village of Santa Cristina and the Monte Pana chair lift, where at the base we were to find an “easy” waterfall walk. We found the waterfalls – at least one of them – after hiking across an unsigned meadow, but no official path. Having Val Gardena Passes in hand, we could ride any of 12 lifts in the valley, so we thought we’d ride the chairlift and have a look around. Of course, we found a rifugio (really more of a hotel) at the top of the lift, so over a cappuccino we pondered our options. There was a bambini trail, but that seemed too silly. Saltria, a location we know well, was purported to be a hike of 1h:45m so off we went, knowing that at the end we would find a hotel with a nice café and a bus to Compatsch, followed by a
Cute little Santa Cristina.

Cute little Santa Cristina.

dramatic cableway descent and a comfy bus back to Ortisei. This hike, for the record, followed Trail #30A through mostly wooded terrain to Trail #18, which leads to Saltria. There were a few nice viewpoints, and some sun exposure although mostly at the start and finish. Hot and humid, so we had quite a trek…not the easy waterfall walk we had planned but an easy enough hour-and-forty-five. The Alpe di Siusi was having a record heat wave and this was the second consecutive 36-degree Celsius day. I felt sorry for the little ponies at Compatsch who had to stand in the sun waiting for tourists to go on carriage rides. Brutal for them! The cows did not seem to mind the weather.
Pedometer: 18,766 steps; 10.3 km

Thursday, July 9 – Cool at last: Ciampinoi to Passo Sella

Snuggled up against the Sassolungo, there is an vast terrace and lawn. The little pods swivel on their bases.

Snuggled up against the Sassolungo, there is a vast terrace and lawn. The seating pods swivel on their bases.

It was a pleasant 10 C/50 F at the top of the lift. Jackets required! Sunny and clear, hiking sticks at the ready, we headed off to Rifugio Emilio Comici, our first stop, which turned out to be a gem. The rifugio is tucked up under the Sassolungo, modern, with an enormous terrace, a generous lawn with sun chairs, and the cutest pods for lounging and dining. It also has THE BEST bathrooms, employing technology at every turn and clean as the proverbial whistle.  Heading off after a perfect espresso and, for me, yogurt with 4 kinds of fresh berries, we completed our hike to the large hotel at Passo Sella, complete with bar (serving strudel of course), restaurant, and the strangest lift we’ve ever seen. The “cable cars” looked like flying refrigerators and we took one up to the VERY high Rifugio Toni Demetz. Click on any picture to enlarge and view the slide show.
The Sella Pass is at 2244 meters/7362 feet, and the rifugio is at 2685 meters/8809 feet.   One cannot merely step into one of the refrigerator lifts, one is bodily thrown in by two young, strong men who use a firm grip to propel you and slam the door firmly behind you before you can change your mind. At the other end, they pull you out and thrust you off to the side to avoid being hit by incoming cars. Repeat upon return. Ric and I did not understand the drill as when we arrived there was no line, so we did not manage to get into the same compartment. We rode separately, waving from time-to-time across a divide of a few meters. On the way down we managed to get thrust into the same car. For the record, we took Trail #21 to Comici and #526 to Passo Sella.
One can continue to hike from Passo Sella, or return via the same route, but we opted for lunch at the very nice restaurant, then took a bus (included in the free bus card most lodging establishments give you) back to Ortisei.
Pedometer: 20,815 steps; 11.5 km

Friday July 10 – Same but different: Ciampinoi to Mont Seüra

Trail side company.

Trail side company.

Thursday provided exactly the type of hike we like: clear, cool weather, glorious scenery, long enough but not too long, good exercise, fabulous photo ops, food in the middle and at the end, and good transportation. (A loop hike or one with good transportation is ever more desirable than an out-and-back.) We liked Thursday’s hike so much that we returned to Ciampinoi and this time headed west, opposite of the prior day. Rifugio Emilio Comici was on the way, so we knew exactly where second-breakfast was to be found. With our trusty map in hand, we set out from Comici intending to take #526B to Mont Seüra. We ended up on #526A (a harder trail) because we missed a tiny little turn onto a short portion of #528 that led to #526B, sooooo we ended up on a hike across a scree field that was 1¼ hours longer than planned. And we had not even had strudel! The final section of the hike was across a beautiful meadow with a killer view of the Alpe di Siusi in the distance, and since we survived, I have no complaints.
Pedometer: 18,926; 10.4 km
Ric hikes across the unexpected field of scree. We were supposed to be in the meadow below.

Ric hikes across the unexpected field of scree. We were supposed to be in the meadow below.

From Mont Seura, view of the Alpe di Siusi, largest high-alpine meadow in Europe.

From Mont Seura, view of the Alpe di Siusi, largest high-alpine meadow in Europe.

Sunday July 12 – Witch hunt: Fiè to Castello di Presule

Once upon a time, this area witnessed the persecution of nine women judged to be witches. In the 16th century, they were tortured and burned, source of the so-called Schlernhexen stories. Today, the emblem of a witch on a broom is used in marketing the area to tourists, enticing them with the natural beauty. Go figure.
Castello Presule from early in the hike.

Castello Presule from early in the hike.

We started with a bus ride from Ortisei to Fiè, about 45 minutes. Although one can actually take a bus to the village of Presule and visit the castle, we had not hiked below the Sciliar (German: Schlern) on this side, the west side, and were drawn by what we thought would be a shady hike. It was about 50% exposed to the sun, so not bad. Nothing spectacular but nice enough, with some good views of the castle. We were too close to the mountain to see it, though.
Arriving at the castle, we missed the English tour by 10 minutes and the next one was 3 hours off.  We settled for coffee in the shade. This was one of those locations that makes you shake your head in wonder. There was a castle here as early as 1200. The current one dates to the early 16th century. Yet there is a tiny coffee bar where a nice lady pulls good shots into ceramic cups and dispenses directions on bus routes and schedules. There was a nice shady picnic area to lounge in before hiking 20 minutes downhill to wait for a bus back to Ortisei, where we arrived in time for lunch. Not a bad outing on a day that was getting too hot for hiking comfort.
Pedometer: 17,835; 9.8 km 

Monday July 13 – Giorno di riposo: Shopping in Bolzano

Piazza Walther, Bolzano

Piazza Walther, Bolzano

In a longer trip, taking a day off (giorno di riposo) is a nice change of pace. No hiking and no sightseeing, just a morning shopping expedition in Bolzano, followed by a fabulous lunch at a very inventive new restaurant in Ortisei, and an afternoon of relaxing, reading, writing, organizing photos, and so on. So relaxing we didn’t even go out to dinner.
In fact, on this trip we decided to prepare meals in more often. After all, we’re retired and we have time! The result of cooking a few simple meals was a savings of about Euro 400.00 over what we would normally spend in two weeks of travel. Niente male!
Pedometer: 10,304; 5.7 km 

Tuesday July 14 – Harder than we thought: Rasciesa to Malga Brogules

Little Rifugio Malga Brogules, beneath the Seceda Plateau, Puez-Odle.

Little Rifugio Malga Brogules, beneath the Seceda Plateau, Puez-Odle.

Back to Rasciesa, from the funicolare we headed east, opposite of our hike on Saturday. This was labeled an easy hike by some source or another. I’d say it had nothing technical, but there was a VERY steep downhill at the beginning, along a path of set stone (Appia Antica style, but less level and with a significant downhill grade) which required one to watch every step. So happy to have my hiking sticks! I have become a very cautious hiker since injuring my knee in a fall in Roma last March. The knee is still a bit grumpy, though not painful, and the thought of re-injury makes me shudder. This trail (#35) also has a very steep descent to the rifugio Malga Brogules, about a kilometer of the same type of stone path. There was no turning back as the thoughts of a bathroom and espresso were front-of-mind. It was, however, the longest kilometer I have ever walked.
This rifugio was under major renovation and I feared would be out-of-service. Luckily, in the spirit of true mountain hospitality they had table service and freshly-baked strudel as well as a sparkling clean facility. Retracing our steps on this out-and-back hike we found climbing the steep sections of paving stones much easier than descending them. This was a 4h:10m hike altogether, with a ½ hour stop at the rifugio and a couple of brief water/rest stops along the way.
Pedometer: 24,005; 13.2 km

Friday July 17 – Friends in high places: Hiking Piz Sorega

Ortisei in the morning. The two steeples look the same size from this perspective, but the closer one is a fraction of the size of the big church on the hill.

Ortisei in the morning. The two steeples look the same size from this perspective, but the closer one is a fraction of the size of the big church on the hill.

Our friend Marjory was staying in San Cassiano in the Alta Badia, so we headed over the Passo Gardena to meet her. Holy cow, what a bus trip! Fabulous scenery and so happy I did not have to drive so I could look at the view! We had promised ourselves that with two weeks in Ortisei we would take some time to explore neighboring valleys we had heard about: The Val Badia, Val di Fassa, etc. (We made it to the Val Pusteria in June.) Here we are, two days from end-of-trip when we finally head over the pass to expand our horizons.
The Alta Badia is fabulous, too. We were impressed with the mountains that are just the other side of the Sella Group from the Val Gardena. Marjory scouted out a lovely hike and we could see the potential for a lot of exploring just from the top of the lift at Piz Sorega, and there are many other towns in this little enclave that beg exploration as well. I think a small side trip is in order for 2016. Thanks for the introduction to the A.B. Marjory!
Pedometer: 14,859; 8.2 km

Saturday July 18 – Last day hike: Mont Seuc to Monte Piz and back

We have fond memories of our Christmas Day hike, so we did about half of it, returning to Mont Seuc after coffee at Hotel Icaro. It was an easy hike across to Icaro. We returned via Sole so we could take the chairlift to make an easy morning. Lots of people out, and thank God it was cooler due to rain the night before. In fact, we had a terrific thunderstorm. We would have expected at least two each week, but only had one good one. No doubt a result of the wacky summer weather: climate change in action. I am worried for our planet.
Pedometer17,952; 9.9 km
Three years ago I took this picture from Mont Seuc, looking toward the Sassolungo & Sasso Piatto.
Hopeful benches, 2012. This is the view that made me fall in love with the Val Gardena.

Hopeful benches, 2012. This is the view that made me fall in love with the Val Gardena.

Same location in 2015
Same benches, three years later, but today we are in the clouds!

Same benches, three years later, but today we are in the clouds!

An apple a day

19 Jul
19 July 2015. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, does it count if it’s in your strudel? In the Alto Adige/Südtirol, strudel is as prevalent as Starbucks in Seattle. We have eaten many portions and many types over the course of several trips. This time I documented our not-quite-daily habit. Thank God we were hiking!
It never ceases to amaze me that no matter where we go, we get coffee in a ceramic cup and our food on plates with real flatware, served by nice people who do not expect a tip. Even at the ruins of a castle, in a tiny little village high above the valley, where the cafe was the size of a closet, the lady served our espresso in tiny ceramic cups with stainless spoons that we carried out to a picnic table. And we could have had grappa if we had wanted! Compare that to the typical U.S. coffee-house or what passes for a restaurant in a national park: Styrofoam cups, paper plates, forks that break when you try to use them, self-service, and the expectation of a 20% gratuity.
July 8: Rainy day strudel in Selva.  Our first strudel of the trip, while taking shelter in the town. Big apple chunks and a pie-pastry-like crust.
July 8: Rainy day strudel in Selva. Our first strudel of the trip, while taking shelter in the town. Fabulous apple-pie flavor and a light, crust.
July 8: God help us, a two-strudel day! Anna, our landlady, invited us over in the afternoon for strudel hausgemacht. How could we say no?
July 8: God help us, a two-strudel day! Anna, our landlady, invited us over in the afternoon for strudel hausgemacht. How could we say no?
July 9: High-Mountain strudel at Passo Sella. We had a long hike, punctuated by a stop for healthy yogurt, so we indulged in a cinnamon-flavored, raisin-packed variety with a more cake-like crust.
July 9: High-Mountain strudel at Passo Sella. We had a long hike, punctuated by a stop for healthy yogurt, so we indulged in a cinnamon-flavored, raisin-packed variety with a more cake-like crust.
Not a bad view for strudel tasting at Passo Sella.
Not a bad view for strudel tasting at Passo Sella.
July 10: Today, yogurt with fresh berries replaces  strudel at 2153 meters above sea level. Berries tasted fresh-picked.
July 10: Today, yogurt with fresh berries replaces strudel at  Rifugio Emilio Comici, 2153 meters above sea level. Berries tasted fresh-picked.
The Rifugio Emilio Comici  is perhaps the most amazing mountain "refuge" we've seen.
The Rifugio Emilio Comici is perhaps the most amazing mountain “refuge” we’ve seen.
July 11: Rifugio Rasciesa is always a favorite stop for a snack or for lunch. Big fruit, light crust. Asked for panna but they forgot. :-(
July 11: Rifugio Rasciesa is always a favorite stop for a snack or for lunch. Big fruit, light crust. Asked for panna but they forgot. 😦
July 14: Rifugio Malga Brogules sits beneath the Seceda Plateau, and still the rifugio is at 2045 meters above sea level. And still they serve home-baked strudel, of a more cake-like variety.
July 14: Rifugio Malga Brogules sits beneath the Seceda Plateau, at 2045 meters above sea level. And still they serve home-baked strudel, of a more cake-like variety.
Little Rifugio Malga Brogules, beneath the Seceda Plateau.
Little Rifugio Malga Brogules, beneath the Seceda Plateau.
July 16: Best-in-Trip Award goes to the strudel at Hotel Saltria in the Alpe di Siusi. A mountainous piece served with lots of panna, flaky crust, heaps of fruit, raisins and pine nuts. Although we hiked 2 hours to get here, it ruined the possibility of lunch for the day.
July 16: Best-in-Trip Award goes to the strudel at Hotel Saltria in the Alpe di Siusi. A mountainous piece served with lots of panna, flaky crust, heaps of fruit, raisins and pine nuts. Although we hiked 2 hours to get here, it ruined the possibility of lunch for the day.
Our view while gorging on strudel at Hotel Saltria.
Our view while gorging on strudel at Hotel Saltria.
July 18: Last strudel of the trip, eaten overlooking the same scene we cast our eyes on Christmas Day, Hotel Icaro in the Alpe di Siusi. Surrounded by a cake batter, the fruit was flavorful and the strudel loaded with pine nuts as well. Panna of course1
July 18: Last strudel of the trip, eaten overlooking the same scene we cast our eyes on Christmas Day, Hotel Icaro in the Alpe di Siusi. Surrounded by a cake batter, the fruit was flavorful and the strudel loaded with pine nuts as well. Panna of course!
Looking across the Alpe di Siusi from the terrace at Hotel Icaro. A bit of a change from our Christmas Day scene, below.
Looking across the Alpe di Siusi from the terrace at Hotel Icaro. A bit of a change from our Christmas Day scene, below.
Taken from Hotel Icaro terrace on Dec 25, 2015. We only had cappuccino this time.
Taken from Hotel Icaro terrace on Dec 25, 2015. We only had cappuccino this time.

 

The Whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot

27 Dec
When Dr. Seuss wrote “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” I think he must have had Ortisei in mind. It sits in a steep valley beneath snowy peaks reminding one of the “Whos down in Whoville.” As we descended yesterday from the highest lift station we could just make out the
From up here (in a gondola) Ortisei seems like little Whoville down in the valley.
From up here (in a gondola) Ortisei seems like little Whoville down in the valley.
village far below, and imagined the Grinch careening down the steep slopes to return the Christmas treasures. Instead we saw skiers launching off the mountain and enjoying a run of several kilometers albeit on mostly artificial snow. Ortisei calls itself Il Paese di Natale, and celebrates for 25 days, right up to Epiphany on January 6. They like Christmas a lot.
We spent a lovely Christmas Day in the Alpe di Siusi (if we are Facebook Friends you have already seen a few pictures from that hike), and on Santo Stefano (Dec. 26) we followed a local alpine guide from the Catores group on a hike to the Church of San Giacomo, which turned out to be a pretty good workout of 2 ½ hours roundtrip. I am pleased to say we old timers were not the slowest ones on the uphill stretch.
Dating to the 11th century, far above Ortisei. My Swedish ancestors were still practicing Norsk Mythology at that time, I think.
Dating to the 11th century, far above Ortisei. My Swedish ancestors were still practicing Norsk Mythology at that time, I think.
Fresco on San Giacomo, 15th century! There is also a quaint cemetery with a view to "die" for.
Fresco on San Giacomo, 15th century! There is also a quaint cemetery with a view to “die” for.
We also spent part of the evening in Ortisei to see the activity during the passeggiata and the fairy tale-like village transformed by holiday lights.
Luckily we are able to be active (as was the point of this trip) to compensate for the amazing food we are consuming at Hotel Albion.
We are staying at what is for us one of the nicest places we have ever stayed. I would compare it to Salishan Lodge on the Oregon Coast in terms of elegance, although the Albion has a decidedly ski-sport bent versus the golf club sophistication at Salishan.  On a normal trip we stay in B&Bs, apartments and small hotels with a goal of spending no more than EURO 100.00 per night. Usually we are successful at that budget number on an average basis, and sometimes we get breakfast included. In planning this holiday trip, a gift to ourselves in lieu of stuff, we wanted to be a little pampered and stay somewhere special and memorable. I agonized over several choices in Ortisei, and while this one is expensive, it is half the price of the high-end properties here!
Like many European resort hotels, the meals are included in a half-pension plan.  Breakfast and dinner are included and are beyond ample. Breakfast offers almost every kind of fruit, a make-your-own juice bar, several choices of breads, pastries, eggs, sausages, assorted salume from speck to cotto, mortadella and salami, yogurt, muesli, jams, a honey bar (6 options!), a dozen types of cheese, and I would venture at least that many types of butter, flavored and not. This is the Tyrol and the northern influence on cooking brings butter to the forefront. Dinners are five courses including an amazing over-the-top salad buffet and an ever-changing menu of primi and secondi. We’ve enjoyed fish, shellfish, venison, quail, veal and duck as well as beautiful vegetarian dishes. I could go on but I won’t.
The clientele are from all over, although I am certain we are the only Americans on the property and probably the only native English speakers. Christmas morning we enjoyed hearing greetings of Joyeux Noel, Fröhliche Weinachten, and Buon Natale.
There is a shuttle to take us on demand to the lifts or to the village center. There is a spa including outdoor heated pool, which we have not had time to try. The only thing missing was snow, until today (Saturday) when it started during our hike and continued for about 8 hours.
This is our fourth Christmas in Italy, starting with our 2011 vacation here and now three years as residents. Family and friends, we miss you very much, especially at this time of year. We have traded greetings with many of you and have kept up on Facebook , which has been fun.  We keep ourselves entertained, but truly look forward to your visits here next year and to our planned extended visit to the U.S. in August. (Here we come, Seattle, Portland, and Durango!)
Here you see the plateau we hiked on Dec 24, Rasciesa. The view is from another peak, Seceda. The little black square is the rifugio where we ate lunch. See prior post.
Until the next time I think of something to say, Auguri e Buone Feste from both of us! May you have a blessed Anno Nuovo.

Looking for a winter wonderland

25 Dec
Remember the scene in the movie “White Christmas” where they get off the train in Vermont and there’s no snow? That’s what it was like to arrive in Ortisei two days ago. Normally Ortisei should be a hotbed of skiing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides. Apparently much of the Alpine region from Switzerland to the Italian Dolomites is like this: cold and dry.
From our room we have a fabulous view to snowy peaks, but the surrounding valley is a dry winterscape.
From our room we have a fabulous view to snowy peaks, but the surrounding valley is a dry winterscape.
We have been to Ortisei three times in the summer and despite the lack of snow we still find it charming. Up high (2100 meters or so) we did manage to find a snowy trail for our Christmas Eve hike. People are here to ski and in the high areas they do so. While having lunch at the rifugio we met a group of Americans planning to ski the Sella-Ronda on Christmas Day. Three of them were Portlanders! Click on any picture for a slide show. 

 

Buon Natale tutti! 
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