“Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena” Second Edition!

2 February 2019.

If anyone ever tells you writing a book is difficult, ask them how the editing and publishing process went.  Publishing is to writing as cooking is to eating: It takes a lot longer to create the meal than to eat it. At least it does for me, self-published as I am. The writing process was a piece of cake. Floundering through Kindle Direct Publishing gave me a stomach ache.  In fact, the author page links still are not working on all Amazon sites. Grrrr.

Ric on a new walk at Passo Gardena, with Jimmy Hutte in the distance. Many of our walks feature great places to relax and have lunch along the trail.

It has been a while since I last posted in November. We’ve been very busy. The last trip was, in part, to update our book and at last, we have published the second edition of “Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena!” Now containing 23 hikes (previously 20) and updated information as of autumn 2018, this is the book to take along on a trip to Ortisei or anywhere in Italy’s Val Gardena. There’s not much written in English in detail on this part of Italy. 

We had such a magnificent trip again last fall that I could hardly wait to get this published. Alas, the writing and (worse) editing process did take some time, but now the content is fresca fresca fresca, as our Italian friend Pellegrino used to say.

The approach to Fermeda on one of our new walks. How about having pizza with this view?

If you have never been to the Dolomites, put it on your list and spend a week. Heck, spend a month if you love hiking and mountains. Our best trip ever was passing the month of July parked in Ortisei while we did the initial research and writing the first edition.

Click on over to Amazon.com and get your copy, paperback or Kindle. Also available worldwide on Amazon.it, Amazon.co.UK, Amazon.de, or any other country Amazon site you buy from.

Note the first edition is still out there because that is where the reviews are. I am hoping to see some reviews of the Second Edition soon! (Hint Hint.)

This little marmot was hanging out with his “madness” at Seceda, above Ortisei. Hiking directions are in our book.

We make a point of hiking to this little chapel at Rasciesa each trip.

Also from one of our new walks at Passo Gardena. What a view!

On the trail from Ciampinoi to Passo Sella, a marvelous view of the Sciliar.

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Path(s) to Lunch

We love to walk to a meal. Those who read our blog at www.Girovaga.com know that we have made a habit of walking to lunch especially when traveling. Sometimes we walk miles to lunch.

This trip we have taken many paths to lunch but a couple of them were less-traditional. In fact, one was not a path at all, but a journey nonetheless.

Ivan and Sabina found the abandoned villa while walking in the woods. Lucky find.

Villa Pizzini

High above the Italian town of Stresa on Lago Maggiore is a restaurant one could walk to, if one were about 30 years younger and in better condition than I am. I found out about Villa Pizzini thanks to this article in The Guardian. I figured it would kill Ric and me to take that hike: It is about 1300 meters/4265 feet in altitude gain. We opted for the much easier gondola from lakeside to the mountaintop.

Small, rustically elegant, dining room.

One does not, however, simply exit the gondola and walk into the restaurant. Oh, no! It is a bit of a hike uphill, almost to the top of Monte Mottarone. Just when you think you have taken the wrong road, the driveway comes into sight. Then a descent through the woods e voila an elegant palazzo appears. We were warmly greeted by Ivan (whose English is not only better than my Italian, but it is also better than my English) and were ushered to the terrace for a glass of fine Arneis with a view of the lake.

Love the marble rests for flatware.

In the village they served pasta, lake fish, salads, panini. The usual suspects. Here the cuisine was beyond fine dining: An amuse bouche profiterole with gorgonzola cream and starters such as a perfectly poached egg with black truffles or my goat cheese and basil horn with sundried tomato mousse. We enjoyed entrees of a duck breast with orange mayonnaise for Ric and veal wrapped in a cabbage leaf and served with a pink peppercorn sauce, crispy polenta, and mushrooms gathered from their

Veal with crispy polenta, and mushrooms from their own foraging.

garden for me. Each course was paired precisely with a wine to bring out the best in the dish.

Arriving before our reservation at 13:00, we were shocked to be the only guests, however before we left there were 3 more tables of diners embarking on their own culinary adventures. You can walk in out of the woods and find a table, at least in the offseason.

Our hiking lunches are usually not so grand. This was the best lunch-while-traveling since we hiked the Gourmetweg in Zermatt a few years ago. Luckily my Fitbit recorded over 13,000 steps that day despite the use of the gondola.

Ligurian Tunnels

A family strolls between two segments of the Ciclopedonale Maremonti.

We’ve visited and hiked the Cinque Terre four times: 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Each year the little towns became more crowded to the point that we could hardly get on the trains by late afternoon some days in 2014. (See “The Silver Lining Trip”.) It looked like the Tokyo subway at rush hour.

After a four-year absence, we returned with thoughts of calm seas and amazing Ligurian cuisine. We cannot get fresh anchovies marinated in lemon nor octopus salad in Lincoln City. Nor trofie al pesto for that matter. However, we based ourselves in Camogli, a bit north of the five overcrowded villages and just south of Genoa.

Tunnel sections, interspersed with light, look like a cathedral.

It’s a great little town. Camogli gave us access to explore an entirely different part of the Ligurian Coast. We had only been as far north as Portofino before, and that was in 2012. (See “More Postcards from the Cinque Terre”.)

There are some very challenging hikes in this area, beyond what we are willing or able to do with cranky knees. But there are also some reasonable ones. The  Ciclopedonale Maremonti was carved out of an abandoned railway during the past decade. It is only about 6 km long and most of it is in tunnels, but it is flat, safe, and the vistas are lovely. It is perfect for a day that is rainy or hot and wonderful for children on bicycles.

The Italian Riviera is known for mild weather. Locals enjoy the stroll to-and-from shopping.

The day we went was overcast with a high probability of rain. Good day for tunnels, but at the end of the first section, we arrived in delightful Bonassola at just the right time for late morning coffee. (You know how we love a coffee stop when walking.) It was market day in Bonassola — and a Saturday — so particularly lively.

Part two of the trail brought us to Levanto, a larger town just north of the Cinque Terre.  This section of the trail was very busy with locals, where the first section we were almost alone. The locals were walking and chatting, some with shopping, some with children. Two fathers were teaching their children to skate.

As luck and good planning would have it, we arrived in Levanto at the perfect time for lunch, so it truly was a path to lunch.

In Bonassola, it was not exactly beach weather (although it would be the next several days), but the chairs were still deployed.

Local bicylcists stop to greet neighbors returning from shopping.

Well marked lanes for cyclists as walkers.




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