Friday, 31 May 2013

Altopiano di Asiago. May, Friday 24th

we had the pleasure and the honor to be invited to a blog tour last weekend. the scheduled places and activities were so right for us, and so in line with the topics i love to write about, that i'm looking forward to tell you everything!
but, first thing first, the journey started with a sad note (the only one!): due to bad weather, we had to go by car and not by lambretta.

the first place we visited is a plateau between Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige, called Altopiano di Asiago. it's inhabited by an ethnic minority of germanic origin, known as Cimbri. the ancient cimbri language is still spoken in some families, and still survives in place names.
another peculiarity that impressed me is that just the 10% of the Altopiano's land property is private. the remaining 90% isn't state-owned public property, either. it's collective property, administered by the inhabitants. i don't think anything similar exists in the rest of Europe. 



it was the 24th of May, what a coincidence. in that same day, back in 1915, Italy entered the first world war, on the Allies side against th Austria-Hungary. the Altopiano was one of the unlucky places that were a battlefield from the first to the last day of those three years.
the war has left forts and trenches, and furrows of grief and loss as deep as the second ones. 

if it is possible that something good comes out of a war, many of the routes that served as links in those three years, nowadays are scenic and beautiful paths for trekking and outdoors. 

the evening was enchanted with silence and colors: the white, the yellow, the so many greens, the shining drops. we saw the shilouette of a roe deer, peeking on us from above, curious. the rain had made the wood magical and glistering. the scent of earth was intense.

there was some snow. snow over the blooming dandelions! this spring is moody and whimsical.
but there is a wise old saying that says:
in March, the snow of the swallow
in April, the snow of the cuckoo
in May, the snow of the quail
so, it seems that the snow in May isn't as weird as i thought. 

the little village below us looked like a clouds factory. then, the forest and surrounding mountains get darker and darker, the last light rised up, the clouds came swallowing the landscape. it was time to go to warm up into the malga. leaving the smell of dump earth, we followed the one of good food, that made us a path itself. 

now, what is a malga? it's an alpine house for the cattle summer mountain pasture. it's usually a great place to buy dairy products, butter, cheese. sometimes, a malga is also a restaurant, like in this case.

we ate at Malga Spill. the local cousine has a scent of milk and wild herbs. the main charachter is the cheese, of course. Asiago cheese is famous, and Mrs.Orfalia, our hostess, makes a heavenly lasagna with Asiago cheese.
i loved this kind of welcome, made of clumsy italian {the most used language here is dialect}, smiles, good food.

   
reading tips
Mario Rigoni Stern - Uomini, boschi e api |*italian only*
{the only english translated work of the author is The Sergeant in the snow}
Luigi Meneghello - I piccoli maestri | translated into english in 1967 as The Outlaws

both these italian writers were from this area. Rigoni Stern was born, worked and lived in the Altopiano, and Meneghello experienced there the partisan war.
Rigoni Stern's son, Gianni, dined with us at the malga, and talked with passion about plants and animals of  Altopiano di Asiago.
Gianni Rigoni Stern is developing an amazing project in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where he had delivered, in the city of  Srebrenica, cows and equipment for agriculture, and he personally taught war widows how to manage a family farm.


 
info
Malga Spill
loc. Stuba Gallio, VI 36032
0424 658231

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

May, Saturday 18th

a sunny morning is so rare during this rainy spring that we feel lucky and run out at any brighter occasion.

Sesto al Reghena is a village in Friuli Venezia Giulia region. i had just heard of it, and never been there before last saturday, when we decided to visit a vintage fair and market in this small town center.

actually, i was more charmed by the flower gardens and by the narrow, neat streets than from the vintage market itself. 

the monastery of Santa Maria in Sylvis {Saint Mary in the Woods}, founded in 730, is the most distinctive corner of the place.

















































{nikon em + fujicolor 200}

Sunday, 26 May 2013

wool! May, Sunday 19th





a small town called Follina is mainly known in the region for its simple and beautiful abbey. Follina owes its foundation and growth to the benedectine monks who, patiently and silently, built the abbey before the XII century.
then, the monks taught the peasants the art of wool, starting a tradition destined to be long and prosperous throughout the valley. the place was perfect for the sheeps thanks to the grazing lands and water. 

today, a wool factory remains as evidence of the textile past of the town. it's called Lanificio Paoletti and during the past weekend it opened its doors to the public. there were meetings, exhibitions and small itineraries through the past and present of this precious and humble local tradition.
 
there was a shepherd with few sheep to show how he shears them. maybe from the picture it seems that he's urting her but don't worry she was fine! quiet and very still all the time. i've never seen the shearing before. 
i touched her fleece {shorn in one piece} in the end, it was heavy and kind of greasy, bur extremely soft.



the wool factory was all set up for the visit, with an accurate arrangement of historical photos and colorful objects.
since our visit to the tipoteca museum, i've realized i really like this kind of industrial tourism, where old and new machines and tools could be seen while they're working. amazing how you can find a charm in a factory, too!




Tuesday, 21 May 2013

elderflower syrup, pt. I

i am really happy to share this with you! when may approached, my whole family was thrilled at the idea that the elder trees were about to bloom. but let's take a step back.
elder {sambucus nigra} is very common in italy, it especially grows along railway lines, in damp woods and banks of rivers.

last year during this season i told my grandmother that i had tasted an elderflower fresh beverage and really liked it.  we used to make it too, don't you remember?, she cried. i didn't. so, as far as i'm concerned, last year was the first time we made elderflower syrup in my family. it was a test, so we made just a few litres, to see if we liked and if we actually drank it all.
we become sort of addicted, and when we finished it last summer we decided we'd make a larger quantity this year. so, it's a fresh family tradition!


the elder blooms in may, and we waited for the perfect day for the harvest: it has to be warm, no rain from a couple of days, with the flowers fully open and dry.
i wandered with marco on the countryside near home, to find trees not too close to the streets or to the vineyards {for pesticides}, and harvested about 100 flowers.


we (and the camera, too!) were covered in pollen.
at home, my grandma and i carefully washed the flowers, and put them in two little carboys with water, squeezed and cutted lemons. 
there was a sweet delicate scent all over our working table! anyway, isn't my grandmother pretty?

we had to wait for 24 hours, before filtering with a towel and adding sugar and citric acid {needed for storage. without it, it won't last}.
then, it was ready to be bottled and drunk, but i'll tell you about it next time.
the recipe it's below ♥




grandma's hands ♥

{nikon em + fujicolor 200}

Saturday, 18 May 2013

by the river. May, Saturday 4th

the river which flows in the Veneto plain between Treviso and Venice is named Sile. for a part of its lenght, its banks are kept in a natural park, in order to preserve the local flora and fauna.
a small part of this park, in Santa Cristina village, has become a nature reserve, called Oasi Naturalistica del Mulino Cervara. it has been on my to-do list for a long time, so when the first real warm day of this spring has come, we went for a ride and visit.

there is an old mill, that dates back to 1325, to welcome the reserve visitors. i was thrilled because i knew that the reserve is the home of a small community of birds of prey, and i was looking forward to see the owls.
we actually saw the birds houses, but not them. they were asleep and didn't came out for their usual late afternoon flight either. 
i have to admit it, i was disappointed. the view of a storks family cheered me up a little bit, so i could enjoy the beautiful path in the swamp.
i'm sorry i don't have any pictures of the birds, but they didn't came close enough. next time i'll bring the digital camera with a more suitable lens. (and hopefully see the owls, too)

after the visit to the reserve, i was still pouting and marco took me in one of our favorite osteria in Treviso, near the Sile river but a few km east.
the place it's called osteria da Nea and it got a perfect relaxed atmosphere: tables outside to see the water, fresh cedrata {citron soda} and cheap tasty snacks. fried fish is the specialty of the house.




yes, sometimes a glass of cedrata is the solution!
on our way back home, another shot for my small collection of countryside houses

{nikon em + fujicolor 200}
 
info
Oasi del Mulino Cervara
via cornarotta, 50 - Santa Cristina di Quinto di Treviso (TV)
it's open to the public on weekends from early february to late november 
entrance fee 4 euro

Osteria da Nea
via alzaia sul sile, 22 Silea (TV)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Fregona. May, Wednesday 1st

happy may day! do you celebrate the workers' day? may i ask you how?
in italy it is a national holiday, so marco and i took the opportunity to spend some time outdoor. we also had some garden work to do, so we stayed close to home, and took a short scenic road called Strada del Torchiato.


it's a 20 km loop of small rural villages {Fregona, Sarmede, Cappella Maggiore}, the itinerary delimits the production area of the straw wine called Torchiato di Fregòna
it's an aromatic sweet wine, a niche product that deserves to be tasted. the legend says that it was discovered by accident: a farmer didn't want to waste his harvest, which had not rippened in the vineyard for bad weather. so, he hung the grapes to the beams of his barn. during winter, grapes dried and became sweet. the following spring he squeezed them with a press, and put the must to ferment in small barrels. 
i don't know if the legend is true, but the wine is good, especially with the yummy local cheese like moesin di Fregona and drunken cheese {formajo imbriago}. 


the Torchiato could be tasted during the annual fair held on the last week of april, in the Piera Dolza winery, where the grapes are dried and the wine is made by some local producers. of course, we went for a visit.   

Fregòna is a small town on the slopes of mountains. its borders reach the top of the Pizzoc mountain and the amazing Cansiglio forest, but the town center lies on a hillside.


near to this town center,  the main attraction is a fascinating complex of caves, called Grotte del Caglieròn. the caves date back to the 16th century, when they were a site for the sandstone's mining, used at that time to build doorposts. in veneto dialect, sandstone is called piera dolza, from which the winery i mentioned before took its name.


the caves are enchanting. the acquamarine water flows loudly, the light and shade are intriguing. 
during winter, ice and stalactites make it even more beautiful.  i took a lot of pictures, but still don't know the right way to shoot in a cave!
we followed the wooden bridge, while fat drops fell into our heads.
at the end of the path, there is a restaurant we love for its charming location but more for its food,  alle Grotte {that means "the caves"}. 


{nikon em + fuji superia 1600}

info and tips

Piera Dolza, Fregona producers winery
via castagnola, 50 - 31010 Fregona (TV) 

Grotte del Caglieron
open everyday - free entry

Alle Grotte Ristorante
via Grotte del Caglieron, 33 - 31010 Fregona (TV)

Monday, 6 May 2013

tipoteca italiana museum. April, Saturday 27th

"un corto circuito di font, dal piombo ai bit"
"a short circuit of font, from lead to bits"

i'm sure you remember the digital invasions project, and the event i was planning at tipoteca museum.
if you don't, you must know that the idea involved the organization of several mini-events (invasions) at museums or art venues outside the mainstream, in italy during the week from 20 to 28 of april.

it was aimed to bloggers, instagramers, photography lovers and anyone active on social media who wants to be ambassador of the local cultural heritage.
the goal was to spread the culture, the local beauty and history, using the power of internet and social media.

when i proposed the invasion to the tipoteca museum staff {Michela and Sandro: very kind, very cool people}, i was expecting about 15-20 registrations, but in the end, that saturday morning there were 46 enthusiastic invaders, armed  with cameras and smartphones. 

curiosity has been the mainspring: what is a tipoteca? the word in italian language implies a typographic collection, but there is not other known examples of that. this is because tipoteca museum is an unique place. 
in the past 20 years, the Antiga family, owners of the printing firm Grafiche Antiga, has been collecting fonts from italian printing houses, which were throwing them away since the metal type and wood type had become obsolete to work with. 
now, they have this amazing collection of typeface, most of which they actually use for their everyday work, that ranges throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries of italian typography. a priceless heritage, so meaningful for italian history.
you could feel Michela and Sandro's passion for their work when they were telling us that story.  
 
a visit to tipoteca museum is a journey into the history of books and printing.
who among you has ever seen a linotype machine, or a monotype machine? they made the printing history, which was (is!) so crucial to our cultural history.

























there were some graphic designers among the invaders, and believe me, they were purring. but even for the uninitiated like me, the place was pure magic.
and the best part is that the museum is alive! i mean, the fonts have not just been closed in drawers or showcases, they can be used from anyone who ask, for real letterpressing. the machines are still working. people from american universities come here several times a year for workshops. 

italians or foreigners, if you are interested in graphic design, typography, or are passionate about well printed books, this place must be in your bucket list.


surprise! tipoteca has given us a small precious gift after the invasion: a handprinted sheet of cotton paper, with the event's tagline "a short circuit of font, from lead to bits" and the details.
the font is semplicità by alessandro butti, from 1933.
the digital invasion usual procedure was to bring a sheet with the written words "invasione compiuta" {invasion accomplished} and take a group photo with it, but we did better! forget the boring printer, we printed the invasion accomplished ourselves!  here there is a funny video of me doing that. laughing at my silly faces is forbidden.

as you can see, despite the digital invasions, i have not given up on being analogue, and i brought my nikon em and tried to capture the tipoteca's genius loci on film. 
anyway, for some digital bits, this is the storify of our invasion {with tweets, instagram pics, etc.}, and you can find some professional photos here

the tipoteca's invasion ended as any best event in italy should end: drinking and eating together in a near osteria.


 thanks to all the invaders! it was awesome ♥
{nikon em + superia 1600}

info and tips 

TIF - TIPOTECA ITALIANA fondazione  
via Canapificio, 3 - 31041 Cornuda (TV) 
www.tipoteca.it

wine, local taste, relaxed atmosphere:  

Ristorante e Enoteca Casa Brusada
Via Erizzo, 117 - 31035 Crocetta del Montello (TV)

Antica Osteria Guarnier
Via Feltrina, 28  - 31035  Cornuda  (TV)
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