Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hiking in Italy

Waterfalls of Lake Acquafraggia
Acqua Fraggia waterfalls at Borgonuovo (Sondrio)

So... now that we've committed ourselves to the great outdoors, I thought I'd share my list of links that enable us to put the hiking boots into action. We're not too big on books; they carry only a certain amount of information and are pointless to lug around. Large, detailed, fold out maps are much better (in my opinion), and you can either take the whole thing or zerox a specific area to bring with you. We wanted to build our collection of maps from A-Z, and I can't think of a better place than this cool map shop in Sondrio (Lombardia).

VEL - La Libreria del Viaggiatore (The Traveler Bookshop) has a vast selection covering Italy and beyond. We plunked nearly 100 euros worth on the Kompass and Tabacco labels for the northern italian regions, Le Marche, and Umbria. Compared to other bookstores that we've been to, prices are very fair, which is why it was so easy to get a little carried away in there(!). The website is also done in english, and it is possible to order online.

Website: VEL - La Libreria del Viaggiatore

The following links are favorite bookmarks that relate to rifugi (refuges) and itineraries. Granted, these are in italian but the last one does have a good list written in english.

Rifugi-Bivacchi (a website dedicated to mountain refuges and shelters)
Passolento (focuses on itineraries for the amateur hiker)
Discover Italia (also in english and german)
DISKA's PHOTOS (detailed itineraries with beautiful images)

Putting out a good word here: Italia Living ~ Passion for all that is Italian needs no further explanation. Be patient, it's still quite new, but any help in the forum section would be highly appreciated!

Up close at the waterfalls
Seeing these waterfalls were like taking a trip back home

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Wow the waterfall picture with the rainbow is spectacular! The great outdoors, can humble you and inspire you...You are so kind to share those links. I love Italy, I have such a passion for this country. I've visited but barely scratched the surface. I hope to explore every corner! So I hope to use these links some day. :-)
Christine | Homepage | 08.08.07 - 2:14 pm

Yeah for hiking! Beautiful scenery, thanks for sharing the photos and the great links. The rock formations in the top waterfall photo are so interesting! I would love to go to Italy and do some hiking... I'll add it to my growing list. one day...
emily | Homepage | 08.02.07 - 1:57 am

Oooh, the rainbow at the bottom of the last photo - that's beautiful!
Kathy | Homepage | 08.01.07 - 11:38 am

It looks fantastic...my husband and I are going to stay on Lake Como for ten days in November...can't wait.
anne | Homepage | 07.31.07 - 7:01 pm

That last shot surely reminded me of home. Thank you!
Kat | Homepage | 07.31.07 - 3:07 pm

Grazie Rowena for the inclusion in your blog. You really have some wonderful content here and the photos are beautiful. It is a real pleasure to have you join us at Italia Living and I hope to bring more people to enjoy your blog likewise!
a presto!
Richard Michelli | Homepage | 07.31.07 - 2:34 pm

Monday, July 16, 2007

Hiking in Valsassina: More polenta!

This is the panorama that pops into view after climbing a trail which doesn't much prepare hikers for the scenic beauty awaiting at the end. It was a steady climb up - another 10 minutes and we're at Rifugio Riva, standing under the shade of a big old beech tree. As the chosen route for yesterday, I have to give ourselves a pat on the back for sticking with it — it was almost 90 degrees out, yet we persisted without too much trouble. Fortunately on this hike, a small stream intersected certain points on the path where Maddie could easily plop herself into the water to cool off.

Polenta, as was to be expected, was the main carb-filler on the menu. With rabbit, stewed beef, or ossobucco to choose from, just pick your protein as everything that came through the kitchen doors looked pretty damn good. I went for tagliatelle with baby zucchini in cream sauce, and a plate named verdure delizie, or vegetable delights. My husband's appetite demanded a bit more. Polenta with potatoes and cheese followed by a plate of sliced meats...and more POLENTA? (He never finished it.)


Me and Mads under the shade of the old beech tree at Rifugio Riva

Nr. 34 - from Baiedo to Rifugio Riva -- around 3½ hours r.t.
Info: http://www.passolento.it/schede_gite/baiedo.htm
Map it: Google
Notes: From the intersection at Bar Rocca, follow the white/brown sign for Piani di Nava. Up ahead where via B. Anesetti turns into piazza S. Pietro, take the immediate left and watch for signs to rifugio Riva. The roughly cemented road continues on an upward slope for a short distance until it bends around the last dwelling of Baiedo with a marker that clearly points the way to the refuge. From there, the path becomes rockier, paving the way for 4x4's and the residents who live up in the mountains.


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Howzit Rowena,
I just LOVE this scenery! Congrats to the three of you for making it! You all will be pros after this summer! Stop by my blog when you have a moment; I have something for you and no, it is not a meme.
barbara | Homepage | 07.18.07 - 11:50 am

The scenery and the food both look spectacular! Is that yellow mountain to the left of the meats a single serving??? Like Poppy, I too am green with envy - I'm sure there are beautiful trails over here, but I can't imagine that any would end with vistas and culinary delights comparable to these!
Cathy | Homepage | 07.18.07 - 2:38 am

Hey, I am totally Kermit green with envy from all your recent walking/eating posts! Thanks again for sharing.
Poppy | 07.17.07 - 9:38 am

Oooooooooh the sliced meats look divine! I wish we had just one restaurant on Oahu that served the dishes you just had at Valsassina! Maddie deserves plenty of doggie treats for being such a good hiking companion!
Kathy | Homepage | 07.17.07 - 7:21 am

I love this (as to be expected)! Wish I had been there!
bea at La tartine gourmande | Homepage | 07.16.07 - 4:18 pm

Gosh, it was HOT over there! I love this photo of the trail and the rolling hills! Plus, there was polenta...lots of it!!
Kat | Homepage | 07.16.07 - 4:15 pm

Beautiful! Lovely photos. Good for Maddie that she's such a trooper! It looks like you had a fantastic day even with the heat.
Ambra | Homepage | 07.16.07 - 2:52 pm

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bourg de Saint-Rhémy: Apple Tales & Pilgrim Trails

Cool street lamp huh? That lamp is in the parking area of Bourg de Saint Rhémy in Valle d'Aosta. The village is tiny, but all along the central path (I can't even rightly call it a street because it's so short!), these same iron fixtures lead the way, lending a special feel to an ordinary-looking town. What do they signify? Well, let me tell you, in light of my rekindled verve for hiking, I wanted to supplement the previous post with an impressive trail discovery that reminded me of the phrase - "Don't talk the talk if you can't walk the walk." We're speaking beaucoup miles here. Bill Bryson beaucoup! And this slippah shufflin' islander learned yet another nifty piece on european history when my husband explained that the man with the knapsack was the symbol for.....

Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrimage route forged by pellegrini coming from France. WHERE they were heading is a no-brainer (even if the light bulb didn't go on right away), and ties right into that old saying all roads lead to Rome. Pilgrims trailblazing along these imposing mountains, risking life and limb to reach the Eternal City? I was flabbergasted. It would be the ultimate hike. This Via Francigena website has an itinerary that inspires me to attempt walking a part of it, say from Bourg de Saint Rhémy to Aosta, but the webpages for Associazione Europea delle Vie Francigene goes the whole blessed mile with detailed information to plan your own itinerary. I figure 20 kilometers is my limit. Piece of cake.

Another thing to catch my eye was this messed up arrow with an apple at the end. Regulars should know how much I luuuv stories, and here again, my husband comes to the rescue with a beautiful little tale about a man by the name of Wilhelm Tell, his son, and a rule laid down by some pompous-ass German king. An ordinance that could prove fatal if taken lightly. I'm not giving it away! Here's a story link with background music to rival the tunes to older versions of The Legend of Zelda. In any case, even if that cute curlycue for Hotel Suisse has nothing to do with the legend, an arrow through an apple is a typical Swiss symbol, like fake fur steering wheel covers and cheese with pukas (that's hawaiian for holes). The hotel is in an ideal location for hikers and pilgrimage followers, with the added plus of having a jambon producer right across the way. The restaurant makes a tasty carbonada dish which I'll try to work out for an upcoming post, that is, if I don't run off and do one of these trails in Valle d'Aosta.


Trail signs for several hikes leading off of Bourg de Saint-Rhémy

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Hi Rowena - That is an interesting trip. You are as usual, with an eye open to all the onolicious grinds on your path (no problem reading the details!). But, you are also learning new things and going for a nice hike. I remember hearing about William Tell a long time ago. Interesting link.
barbara | Homepage | 07.14.07 - 6:24 pm

Rowena, I hope you do run off and take one of those trails in the Valle d'Aosta, as long as you take lots of photos to share with us! On second thought, by the looks of that sign, most look rather long! I love it there. Oh the fresh air!
Ambra | Homepage | 07.14.07 - 2:36 pm

You are truly blessed in many ways, Rowena. I, too, am a workaholic, but these days I'm trying to slow down. Working for the college instead of for myself, has helped take the obsession down a notch. I've run across men around my age who took early retirement, or lucked out in some way, that seem utterly bored with all that free time. Ironic, how we don't often see what we do have.
stephen Newton | Homepage | 07.13.07 - 6:58 pm

I agree with Kathy - you and your husband do so many things, you motivate me to get the lead out!
Madam Chow | Homepage | 07.12.07 - 5:27 pm

I love all these stories! I thought the man with the knapsack was who else...Santa!
Kat | Homepage | 07.12.07 - 2:38 pm

You make me feel all motivated to go exercise, hiking, workout...or something to that extent, hehe. Thanks for the link to the legend - I'm going to read it right now!
Kathy | Homepage | 07.12.07 - 10:34 am