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Seewis is in the Prättigau/Davos Region of Switzerland. The language spoken is Swiss German and it is located high up on the green pastures of the alps. Homecoming of the cows in September/ October is celebrated with great fan fair, cow bells, älpen horn, folk music and local specialties such as bundnerfleisch (air dried meat), raclette, alpen kasse, the regional cheese. It is a traditional event played out throughout Switzerland. Small family run farms blanket the alps and this festival highlights local traditions, costumes and the spirt of the alps.
I joined in the festivities and created a video I hope will give you a little bit of the atmosphere of the Vehaker, the return to the barns from the upper alps.
This year’s harvest is in full swing in the Bünder Herrschaft.
Last year I had the fortune of photographing Jürg Obrecht and his team harvest and process the grapes.
With urgency and passion, the activity was intense as the temperature in the evening was beginning to drop.
Not a minute could be wasted in getting the grapes into the crushers and vats.
The moment to harvest is decided with experience, gut and closely watching the weather.
Jürg took over his father’s winery (Weinbau & Weinhandel) in 1997. Along with his young family he built a team of talented people to develop and create innovative and traditional wines.
Added to the production of his own 17 acres of vineyards he buys the harvest from another 50 acres of vineyards in Jenins and Maienfeld.
Surrounded by spectacular views of the Alps he produces excellent and award winning red and white wines.
Jürg modernized his production with the newest techniques and equipment to generate top quality wines.
Eighty percent of the grapes he grows are Pinot Noir, the rest are mainly Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Sylvaner.
I thank Jürg and his team for tolerating my camera and me and for the lovely glass of wine.
It was hard to shoot and drink at the same time, but as always I found a way and completely enjoyed the experience.
For more information of the Fünf Dörfer – The 5 villages along the Wine Route of Maienfeld Switzerland
Umbra’s hilly landscape is known for its many medieval hill-top towns that are surrounded with olive groves and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Stretching from Perugia to Spoleto it is a rich agricultural area producing olive oil, black truffles and wine. Tourists will also find beautiful textiles items such as scarf’s and linens produced in the region.
I was impressed to discover the renovation of some of the hilltop towns that today are being occupied, not only by part-time summer residence, but are beautiful vibrant communities. This trip we set out to visit Spoleto, Montefalco, Trevi and some of the restored towns such as Campello Alta and Castello di Postignano.
We found the lovely Argriturismo Pettino in Campello sul Clitunno, after driving along a windy road overlooking the valley, on top of a mountain. The food was outstanding with homemade pasta, perfectly grilled meats, local specialities and black truffles collected by the family around the surrounding mountain. However a warning, after drinking wine and eating large and delicious meals, driving down the mountain could be a risk, so staying at Argriturismo Pettino is a good idea.
Nonna, who was there before breakfast and stayed until after the dinner service was a joyful woman who loved to talk to the guests. I got to know her a little during my stay and one morning she was making homemade ravioli, I really wanted to stay and help her, but we were going to visit Spoleto that day and I had to make a choice, Spoleto it was. But I was in heaven at dinner eating the best ravioli I have ever had that evening.
As I left Umbria, a plan began totake shape in my head about how I was going to return, but that will be another trip and another story.
Enjoy some of the photo’s I took of the landscape and look for a future post about Montefalco and Spoleto.
The Bernina Pass is one of Europe’s highest alpine passes at 2253-metre-high. It is located in the Canton of Graubünden and The Bernina Express runs from Chur, Davos, St Moritz through Valposchiavo to Tirano in Italy.
The stunning and rugged landscapes and pristine ice blue lakes provide magnificent views of the Alps. Alp Grüm (2,091 m) is the first station south of the Alps situated above Largo Palü. The train negotiates 55 tunnels and 196 bridges. The highest point on the RhB is 2,253 metres above sea level, where you will find the Ospizio Bernina.
The route takes you on a journey into Swiss German, Romanish and Italian villages, cultures and languages. It offers a unique experience of Alpine life in small villages as well as the glamour of St Moritz. It is considered one of the world’s most beautiful train trips.
The Radishes Bahn is one of the Largest Network of Rail systems in Switzerland except for the Swiss Federal Railway. RhB section from the Albula/Bernina area (the part from Thusis to Tirano, including St Moritz) was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008.
Enjoy some of the landscapes along the Bernina Pass.
Information can be found on Wikipedia, Eurail.com – (http://www.eurail.com/europe-by-train/scenic-trains/bernina-express),the Rhaetian Railway at https://www.rhb.ch/en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express and My Swisshttp://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/search/index.cfm?phrase=Bernina+Express%2FBernina+Pass
Division of Forestry and Johathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, Fl had a Fire Fest with a controlled burn. The focus is on fire safety and the importance of forest management.
The growth of community development close to wildlands and the growth of vegetation has made the management in these areas riskier and complex.
Tribal, federal, state, and local governments partner in the management of these areas and community preparedness strategies.
Inviting the public to talks given by the firefighters and a demonstration of an actual controlled burn is an effort to educate families to get involved in the use of the community wildlands and its wildlife.
Safty is of key importance as large numbers of families joined the fest for a day of activities.
Look for information on their website for the next Fire Fest. http://www.floridastateparks.org/jonathandickinson/
Each year Scott Kelby hosts a worldwide photo walk. Organizers from photo clubs around the world select a location in their area to highlight . This year PBC Photo Walkers, a group that I’m a member of, choose Green Cay in Boynton Beach, right in my back yard. I joined about 50 photographers to photograph the nature preserve at sunset. The park is about 1.5 miles of boardwalk with various plants and wildlife abundant and easily photographed. The challenge is that the selection is not the best location for a sun set meet and this isn’t the best time of year to photograph animals or birds, as the migration has not yet begun. But having said that, it is important to search of interesting shots and challenge your skills.
There is a contest by Scott Kelby that the photographers can participate in and the selected photo’s will be posted on his website.
Here are some of the images I shot.
My image “The French Countryside” will be exhibited at the Palm Beach International Airport from July 9th to October 8th. The photo won a Merit Award in B&W 2014 Portfolio Contest and is currently published in the June special issue.
It is very exciting for me to have the opportunity to participate in this exhibition and display a location that I have loved and enjoyed for many years. Please stop by and enjoy the exhibition.
For more photo’s of this beautiful countryside go to my blog post: http://turosdolci.pturo.com/the-french-countryside/
Black & White is a leading photography magazine that conducts photography contests in Single Image and Portfolio images yearly. The magazines distribution is 35,000 worldwide. With about 9,500 images submitted in the 2014 portfolio contest, three of my images won a Merit Award and are included in the Special Edition #104 due in the Newsstands soon. It is an honor to be among the outstanding photographers who won this year.
My photos were taken in the Burgundy region of France. Having lived in Europe for many years, we most often traveled on the back roads and through the countryside whenever possible. The French countryside is my favorite, and to me the most romantic. I am absorbed with the tranquility, graceful fields filled with sunflowers, vineyards, quite villages and elegance of the architecture.
I have written a blog post with additional photo’s that I invite you to view.
The following three photo’s are published in the magazines 2014 Portfolio Contest Winners Special issue.
Grassy Waters Preserve is located in West Palm Beach, Florida offering 23 miles of wetland trails for nature seekers eager explore the wetlands.
The Cypress Board Walk, Hog Hammock Trail, Apoxee Trail and Owahee Trail are just a few trails I’ve hiked with my hiking group.
An array of nesting birds and other wild life such as alligators, deer and turtles etc. can be seen in the wild. Flowers, wetland hammock, cypress swamps, pine flatwoods and vast views of beautiful landscape sometimes with herds of deer off in the distance can be seen.
The reflections of a variety of trees are a photographers dream.
School programs, hiking, canoeing, kayaking with one of the naturalists is available through the nature center. Trail maps and any information you might need can be obtained through one of the staff members.
I advise checking in with the center if you are not an experienced hiker. Even for vacationers, hiking through Florida’s wetlands is not only a learning experience, but seeing Florida and all its natural beauty.
Grassy Waters Preserve 8264 Northlake Blvd. West Palm Beach, Florida 33412 (561) 804-4985
Florida has thousands of parks and reserves that offer magnificent opportunities to view wildlife and enjoy sport activities. Riverbend is located in Jupiter, (Palm Beach County), and is 680 acres of subtropical terrain, waterways and miles of trails.
The park offers wonderful hiking, bicycling, horseback riding as well as water sports like canoeing and kayaking. Riverbend is a unique blend of outdoor activity opportunities lending itself to both young and seniors.
The self-guided trails are easy to follow and you will want to stop along the way to take in the beautiful views and reflections along the Loxahatchee River and the bird life that make it their home.
There are Chickee huts with picnic tables and grills available for your picnic outings. The park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset and has a visitors center equipped with trail maps and equipment.
If you are a visitor or longtime resident of Florida, visiting Riverbend Park is a wonderful blend of nature and sporting activities.
This week I took everything from a jogger running, flowers, birds and electricity wires. Saturday I went to a Macro photo shoot where I had to shot lying flat on the grass trying to photograph a water drop. It was the perfect low-level shot.
As we flew over Iowa and I looked down at the patchwork of cornfields, I wondered what would keep our interest on our drive back to Atlanta.
The harvest was a few weeks away so the farms were devoid of activity and people as is often the case in farm regions I have been in. I had my ITunes ready for a long drive with my favorite music.
We picked up some fruit, fresh bread and pastries at a wonderful and very large farmers market in Des Moines and purchased cold cuts and drinks at a local market for a picnic lunch. We might not find a restaurant on the way back and we thought we would find a nice area to stop for lunch. As it turned out we drove down a small country road and enjoyed our lunch along side a corn filed. Well how appropriate was that.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as dull as I had expected. The beauty of the barns, silo’s and movement in the sky was mesmerizing. As in other trips where we encountered farmland or vineyards, it is quite, peaceful and farmers have meticulous respect for the land. The clean shiny silos and white barns provided breaks of interest as well as the human element that sometimes gets lost in long distances of endless landscape.
The striking difference from the farmland I’m use to seeing in Switzerland, France, Germany and even Italy was the flat the terrain. Yet the deep green corn reaching for the sun, white barns with silver metal roofs glistening in the sunlight, and round metal silos created unique images.
Life seems timeless, as if nothing had changed.
Yet we know that these farms are hi-tech and provide food around the world. Iowa produces more corn than most countries and corn can be found in many products such as animal feed, starches, oils, sweeteners and even ethanol (Iowa Corn Growers Association).
I have found that if you look hard enough, you often find beauty in unexpected places.
Hiking in the mountains is invigorating as we pass people parasailing, white water rafting, motorcycling, mountain biking, horse back riding, all taking advantage of the cool days in the mountains during the summer.
The sunsets paint the sky in tones of red, orange and yellow. Thunderstorms echo throughout the mountains and when they leave they seem to say “I’m sorry for making such a fuss, so I’ll leave you with a rainbow”.
The valleys spring into life as flowers turn the hills and meadows into shades of blue, yellow, red and white and their sweet aromas penetrate the air. Restaurants are crowded with guests enjoying eachothers company surrounded by flower covered houses. The Summer!
In the Autumn the trees turn yellow and orange and the cows are escorted down to the valley as the air becomes crisp and snow threatens.
Farmers rush to sickle down grass and stack the hay in barns for the winter. Cows, sheep, goats and horses are now grazing in the valley, their last chance to roam free.
The vines are heavy with deep blue and yellow grapes ready to be harvested. The wine fests begin!
I love looking out over Serneus as I hike down from the mountain and the Summer gives way to Autumn colors. I think this might be my favorite time of the year. The Autumn!
At the first sign of snow the villagers move into action preparing for the arrival of the ski season. Anticipation builds up to the lifts opening. I’m sorry to see the Autumn come to a close, but one of my favorite seasons is around the corner.
My favorite moment is when I walk out of my bedroom in the morning and view the light snow peacefully falling over the village from my picture window. The church steeple reaches out to greet the soft flakes and the ski run begins to take shape behind it.
Klosters turns from green to white with ice clutching the edges of the mountain streams.
Thoughts of skiing alone down wide open slopes with views that carry you to the ends of the earth begins to sweep over me. The Winter!
In early Spring the snow covered peaks provide a backdrop for the green rolling hills against a deep blue shy and the contrast is amazing, yes this is my favorite season.
The blue and green colors of the lakes are translucent as the sun penetrates the water.
Mountain streams are swollen as rushing water flows from the glaciers. Deer can be spotted along the hills nibbling at the new grass after a long winter. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The Spring!
I can’t quite make up my mind which is my favorite season.
Devils Garden is about 17 miles southeast of Escalante, Utah. Formations of sandstone worn down by the ages are called hoodoos. They create an unreal landscape in tones of red and terra cotta surrounded by white cliffs.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast in the small town of Escalante that was very nice and well-appointed. The owner provided us with hand drawn maps and suggestions of where to go, what time to be there and what we would see. We may have missed this wondrous sight if it were not for him.
Driving to Devils Garden in itself is an experience. The road winds down steep cliffs with hairpin turns without guard rail protection down to flat plains. Having lived in Switzerland for a long time, you might think I would be use to traveling on roads like this, but I was holding my breath all the way.
We left before sunrise after it had rained with dark clouds hovering over white cliffs. I was already getting anxious at what we might find. The drive was harrowing until we came to a long gravel road. We stopped and got out of the car to take in the view before us. Dark clouds hung over a very desolate but unique landscape. We came upon a small parking lot, and just behind it, stretched out before us was an amazing sight. We were in Devils Garden, looking out at hoodoos in varying shapes and sizes.
The rain had left the earth smooth and glistening. The clouds opened up and closed from time to time looking very threatening and the landscape stretched out as far as the eye could see. According to Wikipedia the gardens are estimated to be about 166 to 174 million years old. Dinosaurs fossils and tracks have been discovered and you can imagine them roaming around this surreal scene. It looked like the creation of visual effects artists.
At first we stood motionless in amazement, feeling like we were on sacred ground. It was so quite, we were alone, and it took a few minutes to acclimate ourselves to this strange sight. We began to walk around the arches and stone formations. They are shaped by erosion and wind sandblasting the surface creating smooth rounded shapes. As we walked, we felt as if we were on another planet and our lonely foot prints were the first to travel this ground. Our landlord for the evening had given us good advice to arrive very early in the morning to see the sunrise, except maybe we were even luckier to have arrived after a rainfall.
I typically take an evening walk in one of the three preserves near my home. Green Cay is in Boynton Beach, Florida and is the home of many species of birds as well as alligators. It has a board walk over the water of about 1 1/4 miles.
The Little Blue Heron is one of the most delicate and beautiful birds in the reserve and typically lives in wetlands. The background is duck weed, which covers the water during the summer. It creates a colorful and unusual background.
It is autumn and the sunflower fields have been newly plowed leaving about a foot of stocks protruding above ground.
The plows have made a pattern across the rolling hills emphasizing rows of yellow stocks contrasting with the brown earth.
The clouds roll over the landscape swallowing up the sun as they go. Rays of sun struggle to keep the earth lit and warm creating brilliant shadows over the hills.
It is so serene that you can hear a bird chirp or a roster crow.
It is stunning and I pull over alongside the road to take in the view and renew my love of the French countryside.
I am in the Chablis of the Burgundy region heading to the Jura. It is taking me longer then usual because I want to take mental pictures and also photograph these romantically beautiful scenes.
I want to be able to close my eyes and remember the light, shadows and shapes.
I sit there in my car and wonder who created this, where do they live, do they see the beauty that I see in what they must consider laborious, tiring work.
Do they know they have created a tableau that moves the senses and fills the mind with peace and wonderment.
How can I tell them that I appreciate their work of art.
Maybe by just recalling those autumn days with you.
LillieEvenings as I walk along the paths and boardwalks of the water preserves in South Florida, I am struck by the array of plants, weeds and water lilies. They create a canvas of color and design in living beauty. It is ever changing from season to season when heavy rains cover them with droplets of water or the hot sun leaves them thirsty.
I stop along the way to photograph the beauty of their graceful lines as they somehow survive the constant changing conditions. They never cease to amaze me and never become ordinary.
The Limmat Quai runs through the city flowing out of the Lake of Zürich. Lined with swimming areas and restaurants it is the playground of the city where people meet in beer gardens and cafes. The city is sophisticated, elegant, spotless and yet it seems like a beachfront with people sunbathing along the river and lake. Motorboats, sail boats and steamboats move along the lake in a frenzy of activity while people dinning in the restaurants enjoy their champagne brunch. During summer, the lake promenade is a relaxing way to spend the day or evening enjoying the beautiful views and feeding the swans that gather around the shore.
This is the center of Switzerland’s famous financial services, an important international business hub. It looks more like a resort then a business center. But then you walk down the Bahnhofstrasse and you are in another world. Banks, insurance companies, trading companies stand side by side with exclusive shops.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland and offers the traveler more then 2,000 restaurants and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. People stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse window-shopping at spectacular jewelry, art galleries and elegant boutiques. Smartly dressed people stop at Sprüngli’s for an espresso and decadent desserts. Sweets are not just for special occasions here, they are an important part of the lifestyle and you cannot pass by without experiencing some of the luscious chocolates beautifully displayed to excite your taste buds. My internal navigation system is permanently set to take me to the Paradeplatz; if not to indulge myself in chocolate truffles, griotte, and tarts, but to also take in the visual experience of Sprüngli’s and Teuschers’ chocolate concoctions. It is said that the average Swiss eats approximately 22 pounds of chocolate per year.
Zürich has the biggest techno parade in Europe, and has the Züri Fäscht, a fest with spectacular fireworks to music that sprawls along the entire harbor side and held every 3 years. Zürcher Theater Spetakel, an outdoor cinema and live musical programs fill the summer schedule with entertainment.
Many political refugees lived in Zürich shortly before and during the two world wars of the last century. They gathered in the Odeon Café at the Bellevue, among them Trotsky, Lenin before the Russian revolution and many artists and writers during the Nazi period, such as Berthold Brecht. Even today it is a place where intellectuals gather.
Visit the Grossmünster, a Romanesque church and the Fraumünster. The old Gothic church has windows created by Marc Chagall. Kunsthaus, one of the major Swiss art museums and many more are mostly free entry.
This civilized city somehow seems to be in slow motion and still in high gear at the same time. It is like everyone’s back yard yet there is serious business going on in the majestic buildings. The intermingling of young smartly dressed business people in suits lunching at the many ultra modern bars and the serious looking bank buildings are a stark contrast to all the activity surrounding them.
The Niederdorf can’t be forgotten. This is the Old Town, and here like in many cities it coexists with jazz clubs, exotic shows, small theaters, restaurants, clubs, galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques. This is the place to go at night and during the day for a bit to eat in one of the many restaurants. Here you find people elegantly dressed on their way to the Opera or pre-opera dinning or enjoying jazz at the many clubs. This is not the typical seedy part of town, but the entertainment district for all to enjoy. It is buzzing from late afternoon into the early morning hours. Fourteenth century buildings and small cobblestone streets offer apartment living and city getaways for people living in the suburbs.
Switzerland has a fantastic transport system, not only can you tour the city by tram, but you can also take restaurant trams enjoying lunch as you go. In a very short time you can be in the Pre-alps or even in the Alps. Steamboats take you on slow lazy cruises along the villa-lined lake with the alps looming in the background, and during the Föhn (warm air coming from over the alps from the south) seem to be touchable. The contrast of the countryside is stunning as you very quickly go from this alluring city to the peaceful awesome views of the green rolling hills to the alps. Travel by train along transparent blue glass like waters of the many lakes. Buy tickets at ticket machine before boarding or from one of the kiosks. Tickets are sold for the day or multiple trips, or tickets that offer you all forms of transportation.
Zürich is as complex as the Swiss themselves – a reflexion of the Swiss personality. Complex, reserved, conservative, hesitant, precise and even reluctant and yet there is an underlying energy, bursts of excitement and curiosity. These traits create an innovative and courteous place that typifies the city and the people who live here. It is stunningly beautiful.
The medieval village rests on a small hillside 7 km from Ventimiglia in the Val Nervia dominated by the ruins of the Chateau des Doria. The medieval bridge stretches over the Rio San Rocco river connecting the two sections of the town and is a symbol of Dolceacqua. Terraces (fasce) are carved into the hillside where olive trees, vineyards, flowers and eucalyptus grow. Art and history create a visual feast of beauty that caught the eye of Claude Monet who painted Dolceacqua and said that it was an “extraordinary picturesque village”.
The sunny Piazza Garibaldi acts a theater for feasts and events in the village such as the Festa dell”Olio Nuove (Festival of the new oil), and is lined with restaurants where you can enjoy the famous pizza made with local light olive oil. Stone pathways with arches connecting the buildings called “caruggi” (narrow paths) wind upwards through the stone village that protected its inhabitants from invaders and the weather. Small shops tucked along the caruggi house workplaces of carpenters, electricians, galleries, small B&B’s and agriturismi that cater to today’s residents and guests. Each day as we passed we could hear the sound of classical music combined with workmen’s tools as they go about their tasks.
The ancient village is slowly being renovated into charming apartments and rough stone spaces still await a loving owners to bring them back to life. Many French come over the boarder to enjoy the views, the famous pizza at one of the 15 restaurants, and mountain breezes that provide a naturally cool and pleasant environment during the summer months. This is mountain life and the pace is slow and peaceful. People meet in the café’s, drink cappuccino reading the newspaper in the mornings, and socialize with friends over a glass of wine in the afternoons. The fish man comes along in a small truck selling fish from the sea as people go about their business working in the shops or greenhouses that ramble along the hillsides and olive groves that seems almost impossible to reach.
The region has a culture of roses and floriculture with tangerine trees lining the streets and the sweet aroma from the multitude of flowering bushes. Although the region has been deeply affected by difficult economic times, 80% of Italy’s flowers are grown here.
Dolceacqua means “Sweet Water” maybe named after the very nice red wine called “Rosses di Dolceacqua” that has the deep red color of roses. Made from grapes grown in vineyards where their roots cling to the hillsides, it was highly revered by Napoleon Bonaparte and Pope Paul III who made sure that casks were shipped home.
Maybe it is the olive oil that is the sweet water of Dolceacqua. The silver green leafed olive trees covering the hills produce light yellow oil perfect for fish, wild boar and rabbit dishes typical of the cuisine of Liguria. Beer is also brewed here, and is deep yellow, served very cold in glasses similar to a Bordeaux glass. The beer is a perfect accompaniment to the thin-crusted pizza made in wood fired ovens covered with local dried salumi, porcini, fresh vegetables or shellfish, the best pizza I’ve had in Italy.
Just up the road about 4km is Apricale, one of the” Rock Villages” certified as the most beautiful villages in Italy. Stone houses and alleys lead around the castle housing artist’s workshops and painted murals. Paintings and stone carvings can be seen along the caruggi and doorways decorated with flowers that add color to the grey stone structures.There are a few B&B’s and restaurants in the center of the piazza where there is a washing trough and along the caruggi you can see the old village central oven. The village is also well-known for its summer theater. A local Balu tournament is held in June and July with 16 teams taking part. A popular Ligurian game using an elastic ball is played against the walls of the ancient village. The local players are even more popular then football players.
Sun showers light into the dark covered caruggi during the day lighting the painted and carved murals walls. At night it is the stars that light the ancient village, which seems to sit just below the sky. The villages were owned by the Counts of Ventimiglia, captured by Grimaldi until Andrea Doria liberated them. Apricale even has an American history as Giovanni Battista Martini fought at Little Big Horn and was the only living survivor.
Both Apricale and Dolceacqua belong to the prestigious “Associatione dei Borghi piu belli d’Italia”, (The Association of beautiful villages in Italy) and there is no doubt why many foreigners have bought apartments in appreciation not only of the villages but the life style of the mountains.
Ventimiglia is 7km, San Remo is 14km and the French border is 16km from Dolceacqua making this little village a perfect base for visiting the Alpe Liguri – the backdrop of the Riviera dei fiori is a refuge from the crowded beach towns along the Riviera. There are many apartments for rent by the week or weekend. Renting an apartment offers you the opportunity to experience village life and select some of the local cheeses, salumi, wines, foccica, bread and pastries to enjoy at home. The local merchants are very helpful and always happy to recommend local specialties. French and Italian are mostly spoken here and even though only a few people speak English you can always find ways to communicate with the friendly locals. There is little night life except for the restaurants and a few clubs, yet you are a very short distance to the sea side towns.
Cars are not allowed in the old villages anywhere along the Riviera, so be prepared to walk up hill or steep steps to reach an apartment or B&B. Villages have parking lots; some are free at the entrance of the village. Summer months are crowded with heavy traffic clogging narrow roads through the towns along the sea. The best time to visit the area is in May to Mid June or from September through the fall.
Pizza Verde Dolceaqua
Cook time: 200c (400ºF)
Time: 20-30 minutes
500g flour (1.1.lb)
5 tablespoons extra virgin ‘Taggiasca” olive oil
250gr water (1 1/4 cup)
40gr yeast (1 1/2 oz.)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 whole eggs
750gr chard (1 lb. 10 oz.)
150gr Parmesan cheese (10 1/2 oz.)
1 1/2 onions
Extra virgin olive oil
Black Taggia olives
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and a teaspoon of sugar and allow it to rest in a warm place.
Pour the flour onto a work surface and add the yeast mixture, and salt to the flour. Bring it together into a ball and knead it. Let it rest under a clean cloth, preferable woolen, of a bowl until in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Take the risen dough and knead a second time until you have soft dough and let it raise again under the cloth for another 2 hours.
Roll it out and put it onto a pan greased with olive oil and let it rest again before covering it with the greens.
Chop the uncooked chard and add the oil, salt, eggs, onion and cheese. Spread the prepared mixture onto the dough and sprinkle olives and whole cloves of garlic over the top. Cook in the oven at 200/300º (400ºF) for 25/30 minutes.
Michetta, The sweet bread of Dolceacqua
The story of michetta:
The Marquis Doria sent a young bride who refused to give herself to him to prison to die. The population of Dolceacqua rose up and forced the Marquis Doria (1364) to stop his abuse of power and on the 16th of August there is a festival to celebrate the event. The women of the village created the “michetta” now the symbol of love and freedom.
1kg flour, (2 lbs 3 oz.)
100g yeast, (3 1/2 oz.)
350g sugar, (13 oz.)
250g butter, ( 9 oz.)
Grated lemon zest,
Warm water and Marsala
Bake time: 200ºc (400ºF). until they puff up and have alight brown color on top.
Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the warm water and add it to the flour. Add the eggs, butter, lemon zest, salt and Marsala. Let the mixture rise for one hour and knead it. Shape it into an oval or knot shape. Place the michette on an oiled baking sheet and bake in the oven at 200ºc (400ºF).
Dampen the tops with a little water and dust with remaining sugar.
The polenta, porcini and truffles and Genovese pesto spaghetti were dishes we had for lunch at Locanda dei Carugi, Via Roma 12/14, Apricale, a small little inn and restaurant – they were excellent.
Known as the Bündner Herrschaft, and the Five Villages (Fünf Dörfer) Zizers, Malans, Jenins, Maienfeld, and Fläsch, are located in the district of Landquart and the Chur Rhein valley in the Canton of Graubünden.
Maienfeld is dominated by the Schloss Brandis built from 1270-1275. Narrow streets curve through the small village like a ribbon wrapped around a perfect gift. The beautifully frescoed Rathaus (town hall) stands proudly in the center of the village. Scholss Brandis – now a restaurant has a small garden where you can enjoy the beauty of this village with a glass of local fresh light Pinot Blanc.
The wine route (Weinbergweg) runs from Chur to Fläsch through the five villages. The main variety of grape grown is Pinot Noir. Riesling-Sylvaner (Müller–Thurgau) and Chardonnay, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) are now also being grown. The route is best visited by walking or biking and taking in the beauty of the vineyards decorated with roses and artist ateliers scattered about the villages displaying works of art. You can catch a bus or train back to your starting point if you don’t want to walk back. Wineries are open for wine tasting and little hotels and restaurants with terraced gardens interrupt your walk as you just can’t resist going in and sitting down to a glass of wine and a Bünderteller (air dried meats and cheeses). Some of the restaurants have jazz evenings serving local specialties while people patiently wait for the vendange. The lively music seems to stimulate the sugars in the grapes. Cows graze lazily, and friends enjoy horse and carriages rides as they spend a day together laughing and waving to people as they pass-by.
“Städtlifest” celebrates the harvest and is held on the last weekend of September or the first in October. This year it will be in Maienfeld from Friday, October 2 until Sunday, October 5. The quite villages and typical Bündner chalets are decorated with huge sunflowers covering the doorways and fountains filled with roses and fall flowers. Locals, dressed in traditional costumes are entertained by small musical groups and Alpenhorn billowing music over the vineyards. A typical Swiss fest full of tradition and color has people waiting in line to get a portion of Racelette in huge wheels melting and scraped onto hot boiled potatoes. Grills are placed throughout the village with huge wood skewers of goat (zigerspitz) grilled in flashes of fire as seasoned oil is scooped over them in what looks like a flamethrower performing amazing tricks. We watch munching on our zigerspitz; the bratwurst grilling, wine being poured into cups while people and children scurry around visiting friends and making this one of the most colorful local fests in the region. This is Switzerland at its best.