italian vacations

Travel Tuesday: Find yourself in nature in the Dolomites

There is a saying in Italian that says “Toccare il cielo con un dito,” touch the sky with your finger.  This is a saying Italians use when they want to tell someone they are very happy about something.  It can also be used literally when you are in the Dolomiti mountain range.   When you are here, you are over 2000 meters high, and you literally feel like you are so close to the sky you could touch it with your finger.

The Dolomiti are a place that you should go at least once in your lifetime.   They are a mountain range located in Northeast Italy and form the border between Italy and Austria.   There you truly feel one with nature.   It is such a strange feeling because you feel like you are by yourself in nature yet there are still a lot of people around.   However, it is so vast and open it doesn’t feel like people are near you.  The only adjective I can use to describe it is paradise, you really feel like you are in Heaven.

Not only is the view breathtaking but I also had the best apple strudel I’ve ever had in my life.   It is served with a warm custard on the side and with a coffee you absolutely feel like you have reached heaven!!

The Dolomiti are well known for ski resorts and the first time I went there was in the winter.  I arrived at night and it was sooo cold when I got there.   I wanted a typical meal of the area and asked the hotel concierge for a suggestion.   He said there was a restaurant not too far away, close enough to walk.(but we manage to get lost).

It was so beautiful inside the restaurant, but I could also have been influenced by the fact that I was just happy to be back inside in the warmth!!   We asked what the typical dish of the area was and ordered a delicious meal of Spinach Spatzle and Canerdelli.  Canerdelli is a type of bread ball made of speck (the meat of this area),bread and cheese and was served in a soup.  The meal was fantastic and the wine delightful, and the end of the perfect evening was stepping outside to a sky completely filled with stars.   It was genuinely magical.  And the best part was that it only took us ten minutes to walk back to the hotel.

Something that I learned while I was in this area was that they have their own language called Ladino. It is not a dialec of Italian,  it is a complete language on its own and used just in this area.   It is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish and German.  And when you are traveling in this area signs are written in both Ladino and Italian.

Moena is the town I stayed in while visiting the Dolomiti.  When I first travelled there in the wintertime it was like staying in a fairytale.   Everything was all white and it felt like being in the movie Heidi.  When I returned with my Ciao Amici group trip it was in the summer so everything was lush and green.  While the winter it is known for its ski area, there is plenty to do in the summer as well.  Hiking and cycling are very popular and they even have grass skiing.   Of course, shopping is always fun.   There was a jewelry store here that had pieces that were so interesting, like nothing we had ever seen before.  The designs were so different everyone wanted to bring something home.

We were able to stop in the city of Bolzano on our way to Moena when I went with my group to see Otzi.  This is something not to be missed!!!! Otzi is actually  a 5,000 year old man preserved in ice.  The body was found in 1991 and was preserved in ice for all of those years.   Researchers were able to find out many things about his body, the ailments that he had and how he died.  They were even able to find out what he last ate before his death.  It is definitely something you will not see anywhere else.

Unfortunately we only stopped in Bolzano on our way to Moena, so I didn’t have time to tour the city much.   I would like to return to the area and on my bucket list is Lago di Braies.   It is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, 1500m above sea level,  turquoise green in color and  surrounded by the majestic mountains.   Who is ready to come with me?

Ricetta Spatzle
– 300gr di spinaci lessati e tritati (boiled and chopped spinach)
– 300gr di farina (flour)
– 120 cc di latte (milk)
– 3 uova (eggs)
– Sale (salt)
– Pepe (pepper)
– Noce moscata (nutmeg)
Condimento (Seasoning)
– 100gr burro (butter)
– 100gr parmigiano (parmesan)
Preparazione (Preparation)
– Sbattere tutti gli ingredienti l’impasto non deve essere troppo duro (Beat all the ingredients, the dough should not be too hard)
– Lasciare riposare l’impasto per ½ ora (Let the dough rest for ½ hour)
– Riempire una pentola d’acqua con un cucchiaino di sale (Fill a pot of water with a teaspoon of salt)
– Mettere l’impasto nello schiacciapatate (Put the dough in a potato ricer)
– Quando l’acqua bolle schiacciare l’impasto dentro l’acqua (When the water boils, squeeze the dough into the water)
– Quando gli spatzle vengo a galla toglierli e condirli con burro e parmigiano (When the spatzles come to the surface, remove them and season them with butter and Parmesan)
Buon Appetito!