Search results for 'ortisei'

Good morning, Ortisei!

1 Aug
Good Day Rome is on-the-road this week. We head back to Rome this evening, but I wanted to share a few pictures from the last couple of days. We are traveling with our Seattle-based niece, nephew and their children.  Hoping Grandma Deb, who is cycling across the U.S. this summer, has a chance to see these pics of her grandchildren and their time in the mountains.
Sunrise on the Sella Group and the Sassolungo, towering over Ortisei, Italy, as seen from our terrace.
Sunrise on the Sella Group and the Sassolungo, towering over Ortisei, Italy, as seen from our terrace.
Across the Val Gardena, viewed from our apartment, the tiny village of Bulla. Every trip I say we need to go there. I find it enchanting. Maybe next time....
Across the Val Gardena, viewed from our apartment, the tiny village of Bulla. Every trip I say we need to go there. I find it enchanting. Maybe next time….
High above the Val Gardena, William, Elizabeth and John head down the trail. It was a chilly 13 Centrigrade.
High above the Val Gardena, William, Elizabeth and John head down the trail. It was a chilly 13 Centigrade.
Ric in front of the rifugio at Raciesa, high above the Val Gardena. Lovely stop for

Ric in front of the rifugio at Rasciesa, high above the Val Gardena. Lovely stop for “elevensies” of coffee, hot chocolate and berry crostada. Yes, it was cold enough for hot chocolate.

Elizabeth cannot resist the flower displays. The Val Gardena is well-named.

Elizabeth cannot resist the flower displays. The Val Gardena is well-named.

Horses and cows cross paths with hikers at Raciesa. We encountered a herd of about a dozen horses looking for handouts and petting. William said it was the highlight of the hike for him.
Horses and cows cross paths with hikers at Rasciesa. We encountered a herd of about a dozen horses looking for handouts and petting. William said it was the highlight of the hike for him.
Caught Elizabeth in a candid moment, bundled up against a chilly breeze at the high altitude. In the valley we did not need jackets.
Caught Elizabeth in a candid moment, bundled up against a chilly breeze at the high altitude. In the valley we did not need jackets.
Susan, Elizabeth, John and William riding the funicolare to Raciesa, Val Gardena.
Susan, Elizabeth, John and William riding the funicolare to Rasciesa, Val Gardena.
The horses were very friendly. No doubt looking for apples and carrots. John, Elizabeth and William (hidden) offer some pets.
The horses were very friendly. No doubt looking for apples and carrots. John, Elizabeth and William (hidden) offer some pets.
Ciao tutti! If you haven't been here, you should put it on your list!
Ciao tutti! If you haven’t been here, you should put it on your list!

Laurel & Ric on vacation: Part II – Ortisei

28 Jul

It’s been hot everywhere it seems. Ric and I took it hard here in Rome when the heat hit in mid-June, earlier than “usual” we are told. Hottest June in 231 years said one source. Who knew weather records were kept for more than 200 years?  We’ve also been warned that “Rome closes down in August. All of the Italians leave town.” Everyone, it seems, goes to the beach or the mountains to escape the hot city.

Now we get it. Three refreshing days in Ortisei (OR-tee-zay) in the Alto Adige region was an amazing, revitalizing getaway.

VIew down the main pedestrian-only street in Ortisei.

The town is absolutely charming. While heavy on tourist lodgings with more rooms available for tourists than there are residents of the town, Ortisei retains its character and doesn’t come off as phony or overly commercial.  Ortisei feels more like Austria or Germany than Italy.  One of our Italian colleagues said “It’s not Italy!”  The food, the bread, the signs, the architecture all led to a we’re-not-in-Italy-any-more feeling.  Given that the region was Austrian until 1919, this is not so terribly surprising. Residents generally speak three languages: German, Italian and Ladin, a regional dialect. While many also speak at least some English, the first words out of their mouths are likely to be German. But respond in Italian or English and you will likely end up in a polyglot conversation!

From our balcony we had a view up the valley toward S. Cristina and the Sella Group.

We stayed in the very lovely Hotel Garni Walter. It was a short hike up from the central piazza, and oh-so-pretty and serene. La famiglia Demetz has owned and managed the B&B for 43 years and recently renovated the entire place. Each room is outfitted in pine furniture, Tyrolean fabrics, and federbetten (German-style feather comforters) that kept us warm during the cold nights. No A/C required! To give you an idea of how refreshing the summers are, Sylvia told us on arrival that it was “warm for here: 24C (75F) degrees.” Ortisei is the first of a string of three villages in the Val Gardena. Only a few minutes apart by car or bus, you can also easily visit S. Cristina and Selva Gardena.  All three towns have two names: one Italian and one German. Ortisei is St. Ulrich to the German-speaking population. Each street has two names as well. (Luckily they are clearly marked unlike many in Rome.) The architecture is Tyrolean, with onion-domed churches throughout the area.

Gondolas or “cabinovia” ferry people up — or down — from the Alpe di Siusi.

We love trains, as most of you know, and the area is easy to access by train and bus. Local transportation options include great, comfortable busses plus the cabinovia and funivia: cable ways, lifts, funiculars. Serving skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer, these lifts crisscross the hills, mountains, and high meadows.  (Ric was in heaven with all of these transportation options. During our 6 day trip we took 4 trains, several busses, and 4 cable lifts.)

In the Alpe di Siusi, starting our hike at 44 degrees F, bright sunshine, and a terrain so beautiful it could bring tears to your eyes.

The Val Gardena is a hiker’s paradise. One can hike in the mountains on either side of the Val Gardena, or from town-to-town in the valley. You can hike up to the high meadows or ride cable ways up and hike – or bike – down. We had a lovely hike in the Alpe di Siusi. Starting out one morning at 09:00 the temperature up on top was a brisk 44F/7C but sunny and clear. The green meadows, wild flowers and soaring peaks of i Dolomiti are achingly beautiful.  The peace was disturbed only by the distant ringing of cowbells carried on the light breeze. We set off for Saltria, a “town” at the other end of the meadow from the terminus of our cable way. As is often the case in Italy, the trails are not groomed in the way they are in the Pacific Northwest. Sturdy hiking shoes are a necessity. The trails in the Alpe di Siusi are well-signed however, so getting lost is unlikely. Our terrain included a road large enough for a horse-drawn cart, a footpath through a grazing herd, and a forest path much like in Oregon.

Ric on the hike to Saltria, through a meadow with grazing animals. Yes, this was the marked path, through the herd.

Not common in Oregon are cows straddling the road

Wildlife in the Alpe di Siusi.

nor ponies looking for a handout. (Shannon T., this photo is included for you.)

Moments earlier, this little guy had been rolling in the grass, thoroughly enjoying the alpine morning.

The “town” of Saltria consists primarily of two resort-hotel/spas and a large bus stop. You can take a comfortable bus from Saltria to Compatsch, where there are more resorts, lifts, and hikes. We were quite taken by the opportunity to actually stay in the Alpe di Siusi, and plan on doing so next year.

I could go on and on. The food is great, as we have come to expect in Italy. You can have a fine pizza from a forno a legno  (wood burning oven), and certainly there is pasta, but also many regional specialties like canaderli (dumplings), Wiener schnitzel, and speck (a type of bacon) is everywhere. We saw – and ate – more potatoes in a weekend than we’ve had in two months in Rome. One of the more unique pasta dishes was spaghetti con cervo, a sauce made with venison.  And a vegetarian option of grilled vegetables is served with a round of warm camembert cheese. That’s one dish I plan to try at home.

We will likely make this an annual trip. Rates go up significantly in August when Rome empties out, so I think we’ll take our annual cool-down break in July when the area isn’t over-flowing with everyone else escaping the hot cities.

We’ll be back next year for certain.

Marking Time in our “VRBO”

24 Apr

24 April 2020.

Quiet location but little to do

The property is in excellent shape with plenty of room and nice décor. Well-equipped kitchen but the chef seems prone to overdependence on chicken and use of a slow cooker. Some beef would be nice now-and-then. Friday is, inevitably, pizza night. The wine cellar is good, not great, but quantities seem to be abundant.

Recreational opportunities are limited. The beach is open but in a cruel twist, the accesses are closed. WTF? The Activities Director arranged for sewing projects and there is a model train of interest to some. Wildlife viewing is occasionally possible from our digs. Quiet neighborhood a plus! 

Housekeeping is minimal at best and one has to ask for linens to be changed. 

Pretty sure kids would be bored here so best for a couples retreat.

Signed: Bored at the Beach

Here we are at the end of Week 6 of our self-isolation (we started on March 14). I rely on Ric’s pill minder to tell me the day of the week. We cook, we eat three meals, we take a good walk daily, we watch three TV shows a day (no binging). Yup, every day looks the same. Weekends have little meaning.

Does your week feel like this? Thanks to friend Brenda for posting this on Facebook.

I spend waaayyyy too much time online. If we were not following our WW eating plan we would have blown up like Macy’s balloons by now.

I find this sign a bit confusing. Can I go here or not?

We are grateful we can walk 3 miles roundtrip to the beach. Although we are allowed to walk on the beach, ironically the accesses are closed so we walk to the nearest point, sniff the breeze, admire the empty car park, and trudge back home. We see almost no one.

My friend in Ortisei can only walk 300 meters from her home, just enough to let her walk to the Post Office, grocery store, and pharmacy. In Rome, a friend reports they are limited to 200 meters from home. We are lucky.

I am still making masks (See Week Two draws to a close) and have gotten much faster. As of this morning, I had made a total of 40 for family, friends, and donations. I have eight more in production. Soon I will have a wardrobe of masks to coordinate with my outfits. We are likely to be wearing masks for a long time so we might as well embrace the style.

While the weeks seem to be passing quickly, some days seem to drag. I suppose it’s the Ground Hog Day syndrome.

In an effort to distinguish the days Ric and I have established some of our own traditions here in the Time of COVID-19.

Panino Monday: Every single day we eat an embarrassingly huge salad for lunch. We used to go out for lunch once a week and that gave us a break in many ways. Now we have a sandwich and chips for lunch on Monday for a change of pace. Whether a club sandwich as take-out from a local joint or one homemade from hand-carved ham, our week starts with comforting carbs. I heard today that McMenamin’s reopened. Maybe a burger this week. Yippee!

This young buck thinks he’s a bird. We are delighted to see them pop by.

Movie Tuesday: A movie at noon along with a big bag of popcorn sets Tuesday apart from the rest of the week. Super 8, Young Frankenstein, and It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood are among the flicks that have given a lift to Tuesday. In the coming weeks, an apocalyptic-movie marathon selected from this list.

Gardening Wednesday: Devoted to puttering in the yard, planting pots, and other springtime pleasures. Tuesday and Wednesday can be interchanged depending on the weather. Sometimes Ric ventures off-property to spend his pent up energy on blackberries and Scotch broom. Fun!

Shopping Thursday: Time to pick up the orders we have placed on Tuesday. In order to avoid going into a grocery store more often than necessary, we drive 40 minutes to Newport to do an 8:30 AM parking lot pickup at Fred Meyer, then stop at Chester’s in Lincoln Beach for a small order we place with them through Mercato.com. The drive along the coast to Newport is stunning, all the more so early in the morning and with pandemic-light traffic conditions. Sometimes we stop in the Taft district of LC to take a walk to a scenic overlook that no one has closed. Yet.

Pizza Venerdi! Returning to our tradition from the Rome days, we are indulging in pizza on Friday (Venerdi) nights. It’s only Papa Murphy’s but it is, along with a rare beer, a treat for us.

Saturday is Towel Day and Sunday is Sheet Day so that I don’t forget when the last time was that I changed the linens. As the housekeeper is not coming at this point, we are on our own. CBS Sunday Morning is something I always look forward to.

This is what I call “The Factory” where masks are in constant production.

Ironically, Monday becomes “Wash Day” just like in the old days. Remember this old rhyme? Monday: Wash Day ~ Tuesday: Ironing Day ~ Wednesday: Sewing Day ~ Thursday: Market Day ~ Friday: Cleaning Day ~ Saturday: Baking Day ~ Sunday: Day of Rest.

How are you marking time?

This may be the attitude of many of you fellow introverts, at least for a while. Thanks to xkcd.com.

The best hike on the Alpe di Siusi: Panorama to Zallinger

5 Dec

5 December 2019.

As the clouds, rain, fog, and cold temperatures descend on the Oregon Coast, I am thinking about a wonderful hike we took in September and looking forward to a repeat next September.

We pushed ourselves a bit in taking this hike as it is more ambitious than our usual fare. We reveled in our satisfaction at completing it and celebrated with a Radler over lunch. Rick Steves’ Italy guidebook sucked drew us to this hike but his directions and time estimates were terrible. (His 1H30M section was our 2H25M. We would have taken the hike anyway however an hour’s difference in the estimated time is disappointing.) I think it has been many years since anyone in the Steves’ organization took this route and updated directions.

So we did it.

Book cover

Click here to buy on Amazon.com. Also available on all Amazon sites worldwide in Kindle or paperback versions.

I would include this in the next edition of our book (coming in early 2020!), but it is a little beyond the “easy hiker” scale so I offer it here, for anyone who might enjoy the option. We spent the nights before and after on the Alpe di Siusi, enjoying the luxury of half-pension at the Hotel Saltria. This hike can be done as a day trip from Ortisei, but it is a long day, at least 10 hours with transportation. We recommend a couple of nights on the Alpe di Siusi as part of a holiday in the area. Two or three nights on the Alpe di Siusi plus four or more nights in Ortisei is perfect.

Herewith, this magnificent hike as we would write it for the book. Start dreaming of an Italian hiking trip! If you are not into hiking or cannot imagine doing this, at least look at the pictures?

 

Panorama to Williamshütte: A grand view on the Alpe di Siusi

Map

The route map with profile can be examined in detail and downloaded at Plotaroute. (We will be including maps for most walks in our next edition.)

Featuring: Vast meadows, peak views near-and-far, cows, ponies, wildflowers, two dramatic chairlifts, and lovely rifugi where you can rest and refuel. The best time to take this hike is from mid-June to mid-October but be aware there can be snow in high elevations at any time which may compromise your ability to do this hike.

This hike is more strenuous than most of those in our book, Walking in Italy’s Val Gardena. In fact, we rated it a “4” on the Easy Hiker Scale* due to the varying terrain of the final two-thirds. While it starts and ends at about the same altitude, the ups-and-downs are considerable, and you will ascend 1253 feet/382 meters and descend 978 feet/298 meters.

How to arrive: Six times each day the bus #4 from Piazza Sant’Antonio goes directly to the base station of the Cabinovia Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm Bahn. This is your most efficient choice at 8:45, 10:00, 11:15, 14:50. 16:00, and 17:15. Note the cabinovia may not be running if you arrive on the last bus. Later in the day, use a combination of bus #172 to the bus plaza in Castelrotto and the #170 to Bivio Cabinovia (drops you a short way below the lift station and you walk up) or the combination of bus #172 and #2/3 which takes you right to the base station. Ask locally if you are confused. The bus drivers are fantastic and the route is included with the Val Gardena Mobile Card provided by your lodging host.

(NB: Bus numbers, routes, and schedules tend to be adjusted seasonally so verify times before setting out on your adventure!)

Path across Alpe di Siusi

The path is wide and level as it leaves Panorama with the Sciliar and Punto Santner in view.

FYI, driving to the Alpe di Siusi is possible only before 9:00 and after 17:00 unless you have a hotel reservation and a permit for your vehicle. If you have a permit from your hotel, you can drive in at any time on your arrival day and out on your departure day, but during your stay you may only use your car before 10:00 and after 17:00. The buses are excellent, though, and parking is limited so go with the flow and take the #11 shuttle! Once at the base station (where there is lots of parking if needed), take the blue gondolas up to Compatsch where the hike begins with another lift, to Panorama. The Cabinovia Alpe di Siusi starts running at 8:00 from late May to early November. Note there are seasonal closures before-and-after ski season commences. Last ride down is 19:00! (Check locally to make sure that has not changed.)

Make your way to the base station for the Panorama lift (opens at 8:30), about a 5 minute walk down from Compatsch. At the top of the lift, pass the Alpenhotel Panorama and look for Trail #2, the start of this journey.

Lake, rifugio, and mountains

Mountains on the other side of the Val Gardena are visible from the trail near Edelweiss Hütte.

The route

Trail #2 joins Trail #7 in short order. Turn right and follow Trail #7 with magnificent views of the Sciliar and Punto Santner to the west. Trail #7 is a road, more up than down, but it is not steep and undulates pleasantly on your way to Rifugio Molignon, aka Mahlknecht Hütte. There’s plenty of room to walk abreast and footing is easy. We rate the section from Panorama to Molignon a “2” on the Easy Hiker Scale.*

Mountains and farm

Coming into Molignon, a perfect stop for strudel.

Moligon is a delightful place to stop although you may choose instead Edelweiss Hütte or Almrosenhütte as you pass them. Molignon is about 1H20M (depending on how often you stop to take pictures) from the Alpenhotel Panorama at the top of the lift. We usually arrive about 10:30 and use Molignon as a coffee/strudel/bathroom stop. Marvel that real ceramic dishes, stainless tableware, and actual glasses are used to serve housemade food, hot, fresh, tasty. Have a late morning beer like many of the locals do. Cyclists also stop here also and will head off on 8A as they are prohibited on the next section of Trail #7, but you’ll see many of them again at Dialer and some go all the way to Zallinger so you will share the path on occasion.

Hiking trail

Leaving Molignon, which is a working farm as well as rifugio.

 

Hiking trail

After Molignon the path becomes a true trail.

From Molignon, pass through the gate and walk past the pond, horse corral, and pasture with a herd of cows. Now the trail becomes more of a hike. You will pass over a couple of small streams, one with a bridge and one with stepping stones. Expect some dampness and mud if it has rained recently. Climbing fairly steadily, you will briefly rejoin the road (with cyclists) and reach Dialer, the highest point on the route. The chapel of Dialer Kirchl sits picturesquely against the backdrop of the Sciliar-Catinaccio.

Church at Dialer

The little church at Dialer.

Take a moment to savor the setting and maybe visit the chapel, then continue on Trail #7, following signs to Zallinger. The trail goes in and out of forests and the pavement varies. There are full-on views of the Sassopiatto’s flat face and occasionally a glimpse of Saltria far below. There is another tiny stream to cross. At one point, it appears you might need to hike up a steep gravel road but look for the sign on your left indicating #7 to Zallinger and follow it slightly down, then undulating, and at one point falling to a creek (with bridge). Finally, pass a farm and hike steadily up to the beckoning rifugio.

Bridge

One of the bridges crossing a creek.

]

Zallinger rifugio

Zallinger comes into view!

And what a refuge it is after this long hike! It is only 10-15 minutes to Williamshütte and the Florian chairlift down to Saltria but Zallinger offers some of the best views possible from their terrace and the food is praise-worthy, ranging from gourmet salads (try the fitness salad with turkey) to Weiner-Schnitzel or the local canaderli. Of course, there’s beer and where there is beer, a Radler is possible as well.

Sassopiatto and cow hide

The Sassopiatto looks a lot different from this angle.

Refueled and rested, make your way up up up to Williamshütte (15 minutes) and the dramatic chairlift down to Saltria. From Saltria, the #11 shuttle runs roughly every half-hour to Compatsch. The last bus is at 18:55 from mid-June until mid-September, then for the next month the last bus is at 17:35. Check locally to make certain you know when the last bus departs as well as being informed about the last gondola down from Compatsch!

* Easy Hiker Scale

  1. Promenade – Paved or partly paved and mostly level; well-signed and generally suitable for baby carriages
  2. Easy hike – Unpaved, crossing hills or mountain terrain, some ups and downs, or may have minimal signage
  3. Extra Energy – More exertion required due to length or extended uphill segments; may have loose gravel or moderately tricky footing
  4. Moderately Strenuous – Longer, more challenging terrain requiring sturdy footwear and endurance. Not suitable for very young children.

Logistics

Start: Mountain station of the Panorama chairlift at Alpenhotel Panorama, Alpe di SIusi
End: Williamshütte, mountain station for the Florian chairlift to Saltria
Duration: 3H 45M
Difficulty: 4*
Distance: 10.1KM, 6.3 miles
Type of Hike: One-way with return by bus
Trail #s: 2, 7
Transportation: Bus #4 or combination of #172 and #170 from Ortisei to Cabinovia Alpe di Siusi, then 3 lifts: the Cabinovia AdS, Panorama, and Florian. Return to Compatsch by #11 Saltria Shuttle. See links to schedules below.
Refreshments: Compatsch restaurants, Hotel Panorama, Edelweiss Hütte or Almrosenhütte, Rifugio Molignon, Zallinger, Williamshütte
WCs: Compatsch restaurants, Hotel Panorama, Edelweiss Hütte or Almrosenhütte, Rifugio Molignon, Zallinger, Williamshütte
Hiking Boots? Yes
Trekking Poles? Advisable

Helpful links:

#4 and #11 bus schedules https://www.silbernagl.it/en/timetables (updated seasonally as different services run winter and summer)

South Tyrol route planner http://www.sii.bz.it/en/siipdfOldtimetables

Walking off the pizza

19 Sep

19 September 2019.

It is so wonderful to have fine Italian pizza again! Nothing in the U.S. compares, for us. Here, we each eat an entire pizza and while full, we never feel bloated or grotesque. And my jeans still zip the next morning.

Pizza

The culprit: Pizza Golosa, which means ‘delicious’ or ‘gluttonous.’ Fresh mushrooms and cherry tomatoes with spicy salami and gorgonzola. Ric had a Siciliana with anchovies, capers, and olives.

Italian pizza crust is made from a type of flour that is more digestible. (Ask any Italian about digestibility and you’ll be entertained for hours.) The toppings are fresh and pure and distributed with a light hand. Each ingredient shines on its own and together, well,  Mamma mia what a product!

Pizzeria & Steakhouse La Tambra in Santa Cristina is our favorite in the Val Gardena. Usually, we make the trek to La Tambra in the evening catching the infrequent and elusive night bus back to Ortisei. The other day, while tromping around on Monte Pana and Mont de Sëura, we realized that it was almost lunchtime and Santa Cristina was only a chairlift away. Does La Tambra serve pizza at lunch? Turns out they do, and as it was a sunny day, we could dine on the terrace. But what to do after lunch? It was only 14:30 and we certainly could use some steps to retard the growth of fat cells after eating THE WHOLE THING.

Ric’s idea? Walk back to Ortisei on the Sentiero del Trenino. This mostly level path takes one between the towns of Santa Cristina and Ortisei where the WWI supply train ran from 1916-1918. Eventually, it became a tourist train which operated until 1960. This area was part of Austria when the railway was built and was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy after WWI. Some 6000 Russian and Serbian POWs were conscripted to build the line, which they accomplished in only 5 months of brutal day-and-night labor.

WWI picture

Photo from one of the informative panels along the route. 6000 Russian prisoners and 3500 locals were employed in building the WWI rail line to resupply the front. This was Austria at the time.

We started our walk a bit before the official start of the path, launching our pizza-stuffed selves off the terrace of La Tambra and making our way up to the picturesque church in Santa Cristina. The cemetery is stunning and beautifully maintained by the families. Seasonal flowers are planted on each gravesite.

More-or-less beneath the church, a tunnel used by the narrow-gauge train was reopened in 2017 with informative displays about the line. It is well worth a 15-minute detour to walk the 203-meter tunnel and study the displays. The tiny renovated station house (from tourist train days) has short films of the trains in action.

Click any photo for more detail and a slide show.

Continuing on after the church, one heads steeply downhill. We encountered cyclists going both directions but felt exceedingly sorry for one guy who was pushing a pram uphill while his wife struggled along behind. We’ve done this hill in both directions and would vote to go down every time. Ugh!

S. Cristina pat

This path is steeper than it looks. After this descent the rest of the path is mostly level.

Then the path levels out and it is a delightful stroll to Ortisei, past farms, playgrounds, and beautiful hotels. Sunny vistas are interspersed with forested sections. The 3 miles passed quickly, taking about 90 minutes including the train tunnel detour.

At least we made a dent in those pizza calories since we are back on the weekly pizza plan during out trip!

Click any photo for more detail and a slide show.

 

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