Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Noce

It's late August in the Val d'Aosta and Zia is harvesting the bounty from her hazelnut tree. Damp evenings make the late summer temperatures feel cooler and these are a treat alongside some younger Fontina and a few glasses of local Petite Arvine.

Friday, August 20, 2010


A lovely light drinking gem from our side trip into Soave. Anywhere that proclaims to be the città del vino (city of wine) deserves, at the very least, a pause.

We stayed for two days.

Interestingly enough (at least to me), the winery, Cantina Sociale di Monteforte has, as many wineries in Italy do, a Kiwi connection. Matt Thompson of NZ Delta Vineyards (and Kiwi-Oeno Ltd.), although he wasn't around on the day, also fashions wine at Monteforte. And while rugby is a popular sport in the Veneto, it also likely explains the All Blacks emblems on the trucks parked in the receiving bay..

We took a mixed case back to St. Marcel, Aosta and enjoyed this bottle at Zia's house from the second storey balcony of her stone villa (circa 1664). As the mountains disappeared into the night and the twinkling lights of small communities and castles emerged from the darkness on this hazy, humid evening, I decided that the constant sound of running mountain water makes one very thirsty.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cascata del Toce

It started as a grey day. Not sure if we should wait for better weather to make the 2 hour drive from Anzola to Formazza to check out the Cascata del Toce but we left anyway.

Am I ever glad we did.

The mist and occasional rain did nothing to take away from the surrounding grey stone and intense green of the landscape. If anything, the stone and slate roofed houses seemed more in place in the diffused light of an overcast day.

The drive used to take much longer but with the addition of several extensive tunnels, it is much shorter. The road still narrows considerably in places, through villages, along the cliff edge and across the occasional single lane bridge.

In Formazza and along the way, there are more places to stay than I had thought but would secure a reservation for next time. The locals are very proud of their cuisine (surprise surprise) and many local specialities (Ossolani and Piemontese) showed up on menus at both places we stopped. The local beers are good as well although I think I'd prefer all but the Nora in the winter months..

From the top of the waterfall, looking into the Formazza Valley, I felt as if I were at the top of Italy. It is true mountain territory. And while there may be a mere 500 or so inhabitants, it is definitely worth a look.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

San Antonio

A stop at the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padova (or Padua), in Padova, is a must of you are driving anywhere near Venice or in the Veneto region. If you're not planning to be there for awhile, you can still take a tour.

Since photos aren't permitted anywhere inside the Basilica or its enclosed outdoor courtyards, a few exterior shots will have to do. We'd left the lovely agriturismo Le Vele in Casselle di Altivole with a stop in Castelfranco that morning then made our way into the city of Padova.

Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost things and missing persons.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Meringues from Pasticceria Millevoglie.
We'd been to Polistena to order a baptism cake.. and found these divine meringues in the process. This southern Italian town is spoiled for sweet choices.  Perfect as an accompaniment to a strong late morning coffee.