Corvara in Badia, Italy

I’d like to say that Corvara in Badia (1568 m) is a lovely little village but I’d be lying. Not that I’m saying it’s ugly but the magnificent part of it is its surroundings. Huge Alpine-style houses, almost all of them dedicated, to some extent at least, to the tourists and their needs, and numerous hotels line the main road and narrow service lanes. Everything is very tidy, no unruly parking anywhere, no mess, no chaos. It’s almost as if it wasn’t Italy.

 

Corvara in Badia

Corvara is one of six little places that form Alta Badia in the majestic Dolomites. The mountains in fact are the biggest draw here, winter or summer. What used to be a giant coral reef up until some 250 million years ago when the prehistoric sea subsided is now the exceptional mountain range that we know today for its unusually shaped formations and colour, so very different from the encircling Alpine classics. It’s the mountains and the views of them and from them that take your breath away. It’s Unesco heritage for a reason. Continue reading “Corvara in Badia, Italy”

January, February, Celery

Not a cloud in sight for two consecutive days. Jeez, the skiing was just perfect! The pistes were only occasionally punctuated by a skier or a small group of them that all of a sudden emerged out of nowhere and once they flew past us the white course was left to us alone again. That’s what January feels like these days. Herrlich!

Skiing in January in the Alps can mean a lot of things. It can mean masses of snow, every other day a new consignment of powder. It can mean blue skies and strong wind. Or, grey clouds, heavy with precipitation, that don’t seem to move anywhere. In the olden days, January skiing meant guaranteed snow conditions but not the friendliest weather conditions with the lowest temperatures. That inconveniences could on the other hand be mitigated by lower, so-called off-season prices to lure the most eager skiers out in the open. Nowadays, January generally still means no crowds but at the same time no (natural) snow. Thankfully, the technology of snowmaking is in place everywhere now so we can smoothly indulge in the winter delight of skiing.

When I’m in the mountains I seem to notice the weather more. It’s got to do with exposure I guess. This January is rather on the cold side, which I don’t mind at all, and the weather has been picture perfect throughout. Sunny and cold – the best winter arrangement. As if by order. As far as I’m concerned we could do with more snow though. Down below in the hometown the last snowing brought in more snow than in the mountains. Shame, really.

Another thing typically perceived is the days are getting longer. Today, for example, when we were preparing our late lunch after returning back from skiing the sun was still up and it was past 4 pm (a few weeks ago it had already been dark at that time). Once the sun sets behind the mountains the night gets all black, much darker than in the cities, and dotted with millions of golden stars.

For lunch I planned to use up the celery that was lying around for a week together with a packet of cherry tomatoes. The first recipe I found online was interesting enough to stop searching. At first, I was a bit suspicious about the whole thing. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the taste of it too much since it’s quite particular. I love it raw, it’s essential as a spice for a soup or used finely chopped in a soffrito but as a main character? Well, I was afraid. But it turned out quite silky and delicious. I served it with bulghur but you could use couscous or pasta.

Not a cloud in sight for two consecutive days. Our cheeks are red and our lungs are filled with fresh Zirben scented air. We’re ready to head back to everyday.

An Ode to February

I don’t know when it happened that people started to plan their summer holiday as soon as the Christmas period was over. As much as I try to fight it and to find excuses why it’s almost immoral to do it, I do get caught off guard in the January calmness and I start to check the websites, magazine clips I saved, notes I made in the past months, and to discuss the dates.

It’s clear to me that the earlier you book the more choices you have to choose from. The longer you wait and procrastinate the more you have to be flexible. In the early days you have the luxury to be picky.

Suddenly, you find yourself immersed in the expectations of long hot days, full of desire to see new places and eat wonderful meals, and feel blessed by the promise of dolce vita, as limited as it is. You notice the expressions like cooling linen bedspreads, airy silk dresses, refreshing seaside breeze, soft golden sunsets, and they echo in your everyday.

At times, dreary February still outside your window, you open the drawer to reach something and there seats this glass candle with an overwhelming fig tree fragrance that transports you to laziness and seduces you to have another glass of limoncello just to let it linger with you for a tiny bit longer.

It’s easy to get carried away and lament over grey skies of now. But you know what? I did all the necessities it took to secure our holiday and let it go.

That day we made ourselves fondue for dinner and it was totally appropriate, you know. The champagne bottle was chilling on the terrace. The candles were lit. The table all set. Baguette, fresh from the oven, still warm. Celebration of winter of sorts.

In the end, eventually, as I looked out of the window I saw it was snowing and the trees were slowly gaining their winter coat. I felt the peace within me that all was right, that the Earth rotated its usual cycle and the universe spelled whatever it usually spells. It was wintertime and it was snowing. Bliss.