Familiar faces and places

22 Sep
22 September 2017.
When “Taxi Ivan” picked us up in Bolzano last week, we could scarcely contain our excitement. We were returning to Ortisei for our 6th summer visit. Ivan remembered transporting us with our cats last summer.

The street where we lived, temporarily. So charming!

Despite the calendar, it did not feel like summer.  Lows of 2 C/35 F and highs of 12  C/54 F were not quite what we expected. We each had to purchase a fleece as a warm layer: our long-sleeved tees and rain jackets just did not cut it.
Nonetheless, it felt like coming home. We stayed in the same apartment we shared with our cats, Libby and Jane, last year. Justine and Siegfried at Residence Astoria greeted us like old friends. We were honored to see Justine had purchased our book for use by her guests! Even the staff in the gelato and grappa store recognized us. It really felt great to come back and feel so at home. And my Italian came back rather quickly, if imperfectly.

That view looks fake, but it very real. The Sciliar and Punta Santner with Compatsch in the foreground.

We managed to carve out two good hikes in our four full days. One was crossing the Alpe di Siusi on a favorite route, stopping for strudel at a preferred mountain hotel. The other a very cold hike through fog across the ridge at Rasciesa. Luckily hot coffee and fine strudel awaited us at the rifugio.
Another day we listened to the forecast of rain all day and decided not to risk a mountain expedition, so we took a bus into Bolzano for shopping and lunch. But we never got our umbrellas wet! Not in 36 hours! It looked like rain most of the day so our time at higher altitudes might have been cut short. Hard to know when to believe a forecast.

One of our favorite rifugi, Rasciesa. We were the first customers at 9:45. As we were leaving, the crowds were arriving.

We cooked several dinners (restaurants get tiring when you travel long term) but treated ourselves to one fine meal at what has become our favorite fine dining establishment in Ortisei, Restaurant Concordia. We were one of only three parties on a Sunday evening, all seated in a cozy room with the woodstove burning. We dithered over many fine options on the menu, choosing an antipasto of involtini with mozzarella and grilled vegetables and secondi of venison and pork, with a fine local Lagrein to accompany. Everything was superb! The owners are wait staff and chef, making for a very personal experience. They were thrilled to hear we returned to them after a great experience last year. It is so nice to go to restaurants away from the main streets, no matter how small the town, and find such intimacy.
Here are a few more pictures from our stay in Ortisei. Click any picture for complete captions.

The canal where we live.

We are now in Venezia and the weather gods have cooperated. We were out in shirtsleeves and ate lunch al aperto twice this week.
Venezia is, of course, very familiar to us. We’ve been here 10 times although I am not sure we should count our one-night-stand in August of 2016 when we came here simply to briefly escape the heat in Roma. We know where we are going most of the time although I am grateful for GPS on the phone when we get twisted about. The first few times we visited we used only paper maps. I am happy to have adopted the electronic form when I see others standing around gaping at their maps trying to decipher Venezia.

Incredible saute of mussels and clams at Trattoria da Jonny.

It was another fine meal we got ourselves into at Trattoria da Jonny. Or rather, I should thank Michele over at Meandering with Misha for getting us there. She raved about it in March and I remembered her post was so inspiring we had to go. We were shocked to arrive and find the place lightly attended while out on the main tourist piazzas things were humming. It was to our advantage: a finely prepared lunch in a peaceful location with only schoolkids and local shoppers passing through. We kept it simple: branzino with spinach for Ric, a lovely bowl of mussels and clams for me, accompanied by seasonal veggies and roasted potatoes we shared. A little Soave washed it down nicely. A lot to eat for lunch but after our three-plus mile morning walk (and knowing we’d do four more miles before the day was finished) we deserved it. Again we are preparing food a casa so a simple salad and more good wine (Donna Fugata why are you not exporting to the U.S?) made a fitting evening meal.
When we travel long like this, our evenings are much like being in the U.S. If we do not go out to eat, and if we’ve had an active day, a simple supper at “home” with perhaps some streaming of American TV is a nice way to chill out. Unfortunately, Amazon and Netflix are wise to our use of a VPN. Although Amazon worked in Ortisei, they are apparently on to us now. We found PBS is still willing to feed our need with their fine programming. Is anyone else watching Ken Burns’ “Vietnam?”

Giant hands support a building along the Grand Canal. Interesting metaphor.

In addition to eating at several new-to-us places, this is turning out to be an art tour of Venezia as we finally attended the Biennale. More on that later. Always new things to see even in a place you’ve visited many times.
Per addesso, ciao!


10 Responses to “Familiar faces and places”

  1. Christine September 26, 2017 at 05:13 #

    Sounds like a great trip! I was in Venezia in April but would go back tomorrow if I could. Thanks for continuing to post as they are always enjoyable. And, yes, I am watching Ken Burns’ Vietnam….a great (real) history lesson for us all.


    • Laurel Barton September 27, 2017 at 04:22 #

      Thanks for the comment. We did find the crowds a bit thick and way too many people sitting on the bridges eating. We prefer winter there, November through March, I think are best (except for Carnivale). But then one cannot eat outside and that is delightful!


  2. Zoe September 25, 2017 at 14:06 #

    Are the hands holding up the building or trying not to drown? (It’s a hard Monday.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel Barton September 25, 2017 at 21:04 #

      It is entitled “Support” so assume what you will. It is a great metaphor.


  3. Kathy September 23, 2017 at 21:03 #

    Love your pictures, Laurel! Ortisei is such a special place. I hope to return some day soon. We have not been to Venezia, but will have to put it on our agenda next time. So much to see in Italy and so little time!


    • Laurel Barton September 24, 2017 at 08:39 #

      Thank you, Kathy! We wish we had decided to stay longer in Ortisei. It was almost a last-minute decision to go there as I thought we’d skip it this year, but my husband said we had to go there, so I stuffed in 5 nights. Should have stayed 10 as the weather got better. No matter how many times we come to Venezia, I marvel at the city. It is a bit crowded for my taste right now. December is better. But we got to eat outside a lot, and you can’t do that in December!


  4. Bill Walls September 22, 2017 at 20:42 #

    There must be a Christmas town close to Ortisei that would match the weather, Thanks for sharing – can;t wait to return!


    • Laurel Barton September 24, 2017 at 08:40 #

      Ortisei is darling at Christmas! Bolzano has a good market, but Ortisei is cuter. We spent Christmas of 2014 there and loved it.


  5. mvaden1948 September 22, 2017 at 12:02 #

    So glad you got to Trattoria da Jonny. The apartment that I have stayed in twice is just across the Ponti dei Scudi…the door on the left as you cross the bridge….ring the bell…on the ground floor. Staying there again with Jonny’s being so close would be bad for both my pocket book and my waistline.
    Enjoy my beloved Venezia.


    • Laurel Barton September 24, 2017 at 08:41 #

      Did not ring any bells. 🙂 Loved Jonny, though. Beautiful place. It’s all because of you, my dear!


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