Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Ecstasy of Italy Part II

After leaving way too much money in Germany, the two food hounds headed to the Dolomites in Trentino, Alto Adige or Sud Tirol. Even though it was still August and full-on Italian vacation time, it was nice to be back in Italy where the food is always good even when it is bad, and the wine, oh God the wine; finally back to real heavenly wine! Menus were in three languages although we did not need it, it was nice to see that Italy was catering to travelers and making life a little easier by offering other languages on the menu without having to fight to find out what you were ordering from people who did not care to even try to speak English or another language for that matter (and I am talking about two towns where the tourism is heavily Italian, Madonna di Campiglio and Pinzolo).

Once again food and wine was a joy and the days were filled with stupendous hikes at 2500 meters, mushroom photography, grappa tasting and of course, the can’t-live-without, spritz-campiglio-style!

One of the greatest tragedies of Campiglio, especially for one who has grown up with the place over 40 years is to see how the ultra rich manage to destroy the simplicity and true nature or personality of a place; just look at Cortina and what is has become! Campiglio should be left as a place for skiing and summer trekking, hiking and nature, a place for casual dress, simple genuine food to fill the huge appetites fueled from the vigorous outdoor activity the area has to offer.

Unfortunately, the “locals” who are not willing to pay massive prices for a slice of carrot cake, are outnumbered by the twits who could care less about how much they spend, all they want to do is be seen never really looking at the price, paying and leaving the locales with the idea that it is OK to charge high prices. Kid you not, two glasses of Prosecco and ONE slice of carrot cake was 18 Euros!!! This translates into 4 Euros for the cake and 7 Euros a glass for the bubbles, insane and offensive to those who work hard for their money. With this come the changes from rustic mountain, simple and real, to false refined BS, shops selling Rolex, furs and lots of useless things for people with nothing better to do with their money than buy more “stuff” and fuel a false atmosphere.

The outdoor sporting goods stores abound with prices to match. With a bit of preplanning regarding clothing (buying it for much,
much less in Milan), Campiglio can be sojourned without spending a fortune although, the “ovini” (gondolas) to the mountain locations are not cheap but hey, that is one fee we are happy to pay to have the opportunity to see vistas worth millions and to listen to the sounds of silence. Pinzolo is a good option for lodging for those who wish to save some money with Campiglio only 15 minutes away and not to ignore and brush aside is Pinzolo’s Dos del Sabbion.

Some exceptional meals, superb lodgings with breathtaking views from one’s hotel room may be had at the Hermitage chalet hermitage in Campiglio. Their (stube-hermitage) Stube Restaurant is expensive but memorable and half pensione affords one a glimpse of the talented chefs and pastry chef (beware, bottled water is 7 Euros a liter).

Ah Italy, alive, sexy, passionate, and expressive how else should one end a vacation except in ecstasy?


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