Ciao Bella

The DolomitesEverything is Beautiful and Tastes better in Italy.  Especially in the Fall when the crowds disappear just as the cool temps come in.   Maybe if I were born an Italian, I wouldn’t love the food so much just judging from my dislike of the Jewish cuisine.   For a little over a week, we experienced the country’s diversity like nobody’s business in our rented Mercedes Wagon packed to the gills.  We started in the magnificent jagged Dolomite Mountains, a UNESCO world heritage site, where we were lucky to catch the last weekend before they closed for the season. The Pizzinini family-owned Hotel Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano is on my new fav list where the wireless service (when it worked) says it all “life is a mountain not a Beach”. I knew I would love this place. The hotel is attached to 2 star Michelin St. Hubertos featuring grand Chef Norbert IMG_1858IMG_1864who shared his love of cooking with us as well as his passion for local seasonal ingredients.  It was an enormous treat and made our 2 days of hiking worth every calorie.  We were literally in the heart of the Dolomites so very close to both of the well known hikes in the Parco Naturale Fanes region.  One could hike for weeks into CortinaIMG_1032 staying in IMG_1037very comfortable refugios on these well-preserved trails. You could even hike to Venice avoiding the narrow winding driving roads we came into town on.  But we chose to drive and next stop was Lake Garda, the larger but less known, closer and more intimate version of Lake Como minus a George Clooney sighting!  Villa Feltrinelli is a hidden gem perched on the shore of the Lake surrounded by a national park and blessed with mediterranean climate. So Elegant a place that they even fill your toilet nightly with red roses. IMG_1050images-1 Most visitors stroll into the nearby village or curl up by the pool and read a book by local famous former resident DH Laurence but of course we are not most.  We proceeded to use up our only day here getting lost on the picturesque hike up in the mountain towns where the lemons are as big as grapefruits only to get back just in time for our afternoon golf game on an official goat track! IMG_1882 On the road again looking like the Jeffersons with our GPS feeling romantic heading to Verona en route to Venice.   Even though I hear that Juliet’s much-visited balcony has no historical connection to Shakespeare’s characters, it still remains romantic and worth a stop to see even if the cobblestone streets lined with medieval pink-hued buildings and dozens of churches are over run by tourists.  And so it goes, lunch was delicious and our car was still there with all our stuff when we got back minus a ticket. By this time in our journey,  I was looking forward to the sounds of lapping water on the quay and the gondoliers operatic singing and the chug of a vaporetto buzzing by the Grand Canal.  I haven’t been to Venice since my youngest was Bar Mitzvahed in the old Jewish section and I’ve never been to the Bieannale, the once every 2 year Art Extravaganza.  A World’s fair of Art from live performances to off site installations all over town with every country represented but nothing for sale. IMG_1096The private IMG_1066collections are extraordinary especially the Pinault at his very own exquisite Punta della Dogana and his Rudolf Stingels at Palazzo Grassi. We were especially blessed to have had a private tour of Peggy Guggenheim’s collection and their newly acquired Schulhof gallery.    Mega Walking in Venice is essential but walking in the Arsenal and Giardini is exhausting so you need to pace yourself…even if just to sit and enjoy an installation of an outdoor drive-in movie. IMG_0661  There are no staight lines in Venice with streets so narrow with so many bridges to cross. UnknownAnd everyone is carrying a map so don’t bother asking directions.  After 4 days of taking to the streets while staying in 3 different hotels, I feel intimate with Venice especially on our last night in Villa F, a very special place often referred to as “soho of the lagoon” because it was frequented by artists and the bon vivant but more interesting is that it used to house the courtesan’s in the 16th century.  This was a perfect ending to a most excellent Italian adventure.  As long as the Felsons keep saying Yes, we will keep on creating memories together.IMG_1900

4 thoughts on “Ciao Bella

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