ROMAN THERMAL SPA REVISITED: SALICE TERME, LOMBARDY

Salice Terme, once the seat on an ancient Roman thermal spring and spa, is now a small town in the hilly region of Oltrepo Pavese, at the foot of the Apennine Mountains.

Intersection of Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria, Emiglia Romagna

Just about a 90 minute drive south of Milan, the Oltrepo is an area South the Po River, at the crossroad of three regions: Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Liguria.

Influences from these four regions are reflected in the local dialects but above all in the cuisine, where one can find recipes featuring fish from the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. bagna cauda, a warm olive oil-based sauce with anchovies), and Piedmont inspired meat-stuffed pasta (i.e. ravioli di brasato, stuffed with slow cooked beef filling), beside great wines, cheeses and salami.

The Oltrepo is famous for its vineyards and delicious wines, such as Bonarda, Gavi di Gavi, Prosecco and the sparkling whites of Santa Maria La Versa.

A thermal location known since Roman time for its spring water (there are still the ruins of an ancient Roman spring), Salice Terme and the nearby village of Rivanazzano boast spa pools feed by natural thermal spring water containing selenium, bromide and iodine, ideal for relaxing massages, mud wraps / scrubs, other healing and wellness body treatments.

As witnessed by surviving local local villas and palaces, Salice Terme was until a few decades ago the sought after destination for long summer vacations and wellness retreats of the upper class, who stayed at several prestigious local hotels to enjoy daily trips to the baths and the spa and relax in the natural beauty of the surrounding hills.

Vineyards around Salice Terme, Lombardy

While the ancient luxury of the ‘thirties and ‘forties belongs to the past, nowadays Salice Terme enjoys a renewed popularity for its closeness to large cities such as Milan and Turin, to art and historical destinations such as Pavia and Volpedo, and to the Mediterrannean Coast, as well as for its great food and wines.

In the summertime visitors can play golf in the local 18 hole golf course, splash in the large outdoor swimming pools, hike on the nearby Appennine Mountains trails, bike on the footsteps of famous biking champions such as Bartali and Coppi, taste wine in the local cellars, savor local cheeses, ravioli or salami, or simply relax in nature.

Proximity to the Salt Path Trails and the Apennine Mountain paths, make Salice Terme ideal for nature lovers, hikers, bikers, “foodies” as well as off-road motorcycling aficionados.

Shoppers will not want to miss a trip to the nearby large shopping Oulet of Serravalle Scrivia, where they can enjoy major discounts on Italian and international fashion brands such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Versace, Gucci and many, many others. At the Serravalle Scrivia outlet shopper will not only find famous clothing and fashion brands but also shoes, home accessories, watches and jewelry, cosmetics and perfumes, fine food, coffee shops and restaurants.

Delicious, homemade food along the Italian Apennine Mountains trails.

Last Summer we hosted hiking tours on the Italian Apennine Mountains. We ate great food!

Italy - Area of the Salt Paths

Italy – Area of the Salt Paths

The Italian Apennine Mountain trails food was a sort of “reward” for our somehow challenging daily 4 to 8 hour hikes from the Italian region of Piedmont to the quaint villages of Cinque Terre and Portofino, on the Mediterranean Coast.

One of the highlights of our trips, besides the breathtaking views and enchanting natural vistas of the Appennine Mountains, was the delectable Italian food we consumed during the hikes and at night, when we stopped at quaint B&Bs along our route.Salth Path 5 - Copy

For lunch we ate delicious picnic lunches: artisanal bread, local cheeses, mouthwatering mozzarella cheese, sun kissed vine tomatoes, grapes, figs and other ripe local fruits.

Delicious dinners at the end of our days

Every night we stopped at an “agriturismo” – the Italian version of country B&Bs – which also provided our amazing and overly abundant evening dinners.

As a matter of fact once arrived at our destinations at the end of our hiking day, delectable dinners were waiting for us featuring local, homemade delicious foods and ingredients: roasted wild boar, flavorful stews and roasts, hams, Italian cheeses and salami, mushroom dishes, home prepared jams and preserves, herb liqueurs and other delicacies.

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Our hosts, B&Bs owners, made sure all the hikers were well fed to face the next day’s hikes. They often prepared dinner by gathering fresh fruits and vegetable directly from their vegetable gardens or using their own made cheeses or cured meats.Dine al fresco

Despite we traveled over 60 miles in total from Piedmont to the Italian Riviera, which we reached at Portofino, (around 8-10 miles per day average), the local food could not have been more different from one location to the next.

The lower valleys of Piedmont and Lombardy provided corn and wheat for our lovely polenta and homemade pasta, mixed with chestnut flour, root vegetables, sauces, meats and delectable mushrooms.

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The not to far away Mediterranean sea provided plenty of seafood; in Liguria we ate pasta dressed by the local famous pesto, a sauce made of fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil, all locally sourced ingredients.

Italian food ingredients

 

In the morning, we consumed healthy breakfasts of artisanal breads, jams, cheese and cold cuts. We also had fruit, two or three types of pie, strong piping hot espresso coffee, cooked by the B&Bs owners & hosts.

 

Home kitchen. Italian cooks.

After breakfast we descended from the top of mountains to trails among forests of beeches and chestnuts or hiked to peaks allowing a glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea.

When we reached the coast, after eight days of hiking in the mountains, we celebrated the end of our hiking tour in the Apennine Mountains by savoring a scrumptious gelato!

Ancient trails in the Italian Apennine Mountains: the Salt Paths

This is a repost of my last year’s blog on the Salt Paths, a network of hiking trails in Italy. Stretching for hundreds of miles along the Italian Apennine Mountains  from the inland planes and cities of Piedmont and Lombardy they connect to the Ligurian Coast, jutting on the Mediterranean Sea.

Used since prehistory, and later by Roman troops, these trails had been trekked by salt merchants during the Middle Ages until the 18th century, transporting salt from the coast.

After a short resurgence during World War II, they went forgotten for decades. These trails are now enjoying a sort of rebirth, gaining new popularity among Italian and international hikers.

The Salt Path itinerary from Piedmont to the Coast

The climate of the coastal region of Liguria is mild and the nearby sea a good source of food.

To supplement their diet the   inhabitants of this region, the Ligurian people, also extracted salt from the sea and bartered it inland for meat and grains.

Salt was, then and for a long time, a very important commodity, so vital that legionnaires during the Roman Empire were partially paid with it. The word “salary” comes from “salt.”

The most common mean of transportation for salt was backpacking, eventually supported by mules, thus carving an intricate network of paths along the Apennine Mountains sloping to she sea.

The Apennine Mountains

Churches and inns were built along paths and local rulers began to impose duties and taxes in exchange for security and the right to  cross their lands.

Many dynasties were founded on the commerce of salt and the control over its routes.

Posting stations were built and soldiers were posted on the trails to protect merchants.

From small posting stations soon entire villages and then prosperous small town towns were established such as Bobbio and Uscio.

The use of this web of trails for commerce purposes ended around the 18th century, but gained a new popularity during World War II.   Groups of Italian Partisans fighting German troops used these abandoned and overgrown paths to reach their hideouts on the Apennine Mountains, smuggling supplies and weapons to launch their attacks.

Today the Salt Path trails are experiencing a sort of renaissance thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers i.e. Club Alpino Italiano (CAI – Italian Alpine Club.

Such organization, in the recent past, has restored and marked this web of mountain paths nicknamed “the Salt Paths”,  making an area of Italy still virtually unknown until a short while ago accessible to international hikers.

Wild horses on the Italian Salt Paths

Despite still relatively unknown many hikers, from Italy and around the world, now hike these trails year round and are rewarded by lovely scenery, possibly a glimpse of wild life such as wildboars, wolves and horses having escaped from domestication and become wild. One can also admire quaint villages, breathtaking views, awesome food, and lastly, the Mediterranean Sea.

Arriving to the Mediterranean Coast, after hikes that can be long or short, depending on your choice, can be a huge reward!

Portofino, Italy - End of the hike

Portofino, Italy

 

On ancient merchants’ footprints: the Italian Apennine Mountains

This is a repost of my last year’s blog on the Salt Paths: Hiking ancient merchant trails connecting inland cities of Northern Italy to the Mediterranean Coast across the Apennine Mountains.

I hosted hiking tours on the footprints of ancient salt merchants in late Summer month with local guides & co-hosts Lorenza and Gianni. More hikes are scheduled for Spring and Summer of 2017.

Our group of hikers on our first day on the Salt Paths in Piedmont

In 8 days we hiked on separate path stretches, not following one single specific trail, starting from the quaint village of Pontecurone in Piedmont, Italy, eventually reaching the Mediterranean Sea at Portofino, on the Italian Riviera.

Italy - Area of the Salt Paths

Italy – Area of the Salt Paths

We “immersed” ourselves in more than 2000 years of history as these ancient routes had been used by prehistoric populations inhabiting these regions, later by the Romans and throughout the Middle Ages by salt merchants and their mules to transport salt from the coast to Italian inland cities.

Mount Antola

Mount Antola, Piedmont

One  of the most ancient paths, trailing high on the crest of Mount Antola (about 500 ft) on the Ligurian Apennines, offers hikers the opportunity to admire a majestic landscape in the Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Liguria: unobstructed mountains’ views, deep valleys dotted with small hamlets, distant creeks, the Mediterranean Sea peeking among the summits at some point.

As a matter of fact, after a few days of hiking in the remote distance all members of our group could catch a glimpse of the far away Mediterranean Sea and the Ligurian Coastal villages of Rapallo, Portofino, Cinque Terre, our final destination.

We spent the night at lovely B&Bs in small villages, in the past centuries thriving posts along the Salt Paths.

Due to the huge value of salt throughout history, praised as preserving agent, essential human and animal diet component and as flavor enhancer, simple rest stations along these Apennine Mountains’ trails evolved into villages and later in larger towns with their own economies, such as  the ancient small town of Bobbio, which thrived in the Middle Ages.

Originally a convent during Roman times, the city of Bobbio became a central and favorite stopover for merchants and pilgrims during their journeys.

Enriched by the taxes imposed to merchants,  it provided rest and protection to caravans, also a spiritual haven to thousands of pilgrims en route to Rome. A Roman bridge (the Humpback Bridge built, according to a legend, by the devil), medieval churches, an ancient abbey (the Abbey of St. Columbanus) and a mosaic of byzantine origin stand as witnesses of thousands years of history.

 

The Humpback Bridge in Bobbio

We spent our nights at “agriturismos” – the Italian version of country B&Bs – which also provided our amazing and overly abundant evening dinners.

In the morning, after healthy breakfasts we slowly descended from the top of mountains to more gentle trails among forests of beeches and chestnuts.

Along the way, we passed small alpine huts, distant castle ruins, towers and farms. Eventually the sea got closer, and we could feel the salty breeze in our nostrils.

Before reaching the coast we still had time to experience another village, with its own traditions and legends. At Uscio, we visited a church built 1000 years ago, spared from destruction by the locals’ struggle against the bishop’s plans to demolish it to build a bigger one.

Close-by, we were led through a 200 year old factory Trebino Roberto featuring a private museum of the company’s main manufacturing product: church tower bells. The factory still produces tower clocks for churches all over the world. Some of their tower bells are at the Vatican, others in other main Italian churches.

Through a splendid forest our last section of trail took us to the beach town of Portofino, on the Ligurian Coast. Portofino, Italy - End of the hike

Portofino is a picturesque, half-moon shaped seaside village with pastel houses lining the shore of the harbor, shops, restaurants, cafes, and luxury hotels.

The green waters reveal abundant aquatic life. A castle sits atop the hill overlooking the village.

The vegetation had changed and the salty aroma blended with the perfume of maritime pines, colorful houses lined the harbor.

After a 8 day hike along ever changing trails, crossing wooded area, bare peaks, quaint village, we reached our destination, the Ligurian Coast, not too far from the famous Cinque Terre, the place where everything started, the origin of the Salt Paths.

We celebrated the end of our hike with a scrumptious Italian gelato!

For other incredible hiking trails in the world, check out the top 50 long distance hiking trails in the USA at: Bootbomb.com – http://bootbomb.com/info/hiking-trails/top-50-long-distance-hiking-trails-usa/

Skiing Mount Rosa in the Italian Alps: dazzling in Winter

The Mount Rosa (or Monte Rosa Massif) is located in the tiny region of Aosta Valley (Val d’Aosta in Italian), on the North Western side of Italy, bordering with France and Switzerland. At its core are its majestic peaks (the region is, after all, mostly mountainous).

Here we can find the highest peaks in the Alps: Cervino (Matterhorn)Monte RosaGran Paradiso and the king of them all, Mont Blanc, which at 15,781 feet is the highest mountain in Europe.

Italy_Regions_Aosta_Valley_Map

The Monte Rosa Mountain in the Italian Alps is dazzling in Winter and surprisingly beautiful in Summer, a true mecca for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, nature lovers.

Easily reached from the airports located in the Italian cities of Torino (Turin) in about 1.5 hr by car and from Milan in about 2.5 hr, the Monte Rosa Mountain is a beloved destination for tourists and visitors who enjoy the outdoors and active sports.

Aosta Valley, Italy – Skiing in Champoluc – by ENIT

The Monterosa Ski Group encompasses the Aosta Valley’s villages of Champoluc-FracheyGressoney La Trinite and Alagna Valsesia. From Monte Rosa, skiers will have at their disposal 88 slopes and 44 lifts from Monte Rosa to Mont Avic, to ski up to 3255 mt. (10,745 ft ) above sea level,  with 7 free ride itineraries.

Skiers, hikers and climbers can explore 4000 breathtaking mountains: 5 Guides companies/Outfitters are at disposal to guide tourists while conquering Europe’s most fascinating peaks.

For a choice of the most updated skis, snowboards, snowshoes or other equipment, 30 ski rental stores are available to outfit visitors with brand new equipment and accessories while 8 ski schools, with more than 200 ski instructors, will teach skiers the latest ski, snowboarding and freestyle techniques.

Valle d'Aosta - Valle di Champoluc

Aosta Valley on the Italian Alps, Skiing in Champolluc – by ENIT

Suitable for all level of skiers, the Monte Rosa skiing domain is a paradise not only for adults but also for kids, with a multitude of children day care / ski schools and snow parks suitable for the smallest of the skiers.

Valle d'Aosta - Stafal Gressoney

Aosta Valley, Italy – Gressoney – by ENIT

During a vigorous day on the mountains, skiers, hikers and snowboarders will have the opportunity to taste local food on the slopes at more than 50 bars, inns, fast food and restaurants featuring international, but above all, home made, local cuisine.

Local delicious food include hardy soups,  polenta (cornmeal) with gravy and sauces, wild game meats, sausages, tasty Fontina cheese.

And at the end of a meal, visitors can enjoy the tradition of sharing a “grolla“,  or grole bowl, a traditional local carved wood drinking implement with several spouts.

The “grolla” contains a brew made with of piping hot coffee infused with a variety of grappa or other herbal liquors, cinnamon sticks, clove or other spices, sugar and other ingredients.

It’s called the “friendship cup” and the people who share it will be friends forever!

Museum Boschi-Di Stefano: masterpieces in Milan

In Milan, the former private residence of the family Boschi-Di Stefano has been transformed in a museum featuring important 20th century masterpieces by famous Italian artists such as Giorgio De Chirico and Mario Sironi.
Located at number 15, Via Giorgio Jan, in Milan, the museum has been open to the public since February 2003.

In these premises – once inhabited by the couple Antonio Boschi (1896-1988) and Marieda Di Stefano (1901-1968) – about three-hundred paintings and other masterpieces are exhibited, curated from over two thousand 20th century items donated to the City of Milan in 1974 by the Boschi-Di Stefano family.

The collection – which comprises paintings, sculptures and drawings – is an extraordinary testimony to the history of Twentieth Century Italian art from the first decade to the end of the Sixties.

The Museum is located in a small block built in the Nineteen Thirties by the architect Piero Portaluppi. The interiors, restored by the City of Milan, were furnished by the Boschi Di Stefano Foundation, established in 1998.

All items on display have been selected on the basis of their quality and arranged in chronological order in eleven exhibition areas whose furnishings – such as the dining room designed by Mario Sironi in 1936 – were chosen for their historical relevance.

Casa-Museo Boschi Di Stefano
The Boschi Di Stefano Museum-Home before the Museum of the Twentieth Century opened in 2010
Antonio and Marieda Boschi Di Stefano collected over two thousand masterpieces during their lives out of their passion for art. About three hundred of these have been selected for their quality and distributed in chronological order in the eleven exhibition areas of the Boschi Di Stefano Museum.
There are portraits of Boschi and Di Stefano at the entrance, with pottery by Marieda herself. From there, a corridor featuring canvases by Severini and Boccioni takes visitors to the “Twentieth Century Italian Room”, with works by Funi, Marussig, Tozzi, Carrà and Casorati. The “Sironi Room”, dedicated to that artist, also contains sculptures by Arturo Martini.
The next room contains seven works by Morandi and six by De Pisis.
 In a small corridor, one can admire a de Chirico painting: La scuola dei gladiatori (1928).
In his will, Antonio Boschi stipulated that the via Jan apartment, where he and Marieda had lived for so long, be opened to the public as a museum, hosting a selection of works from their collection. For reasons of security and conservation it was impossible to preserve intact “an inhabited museum” whose “spaces, outfitting and furnishings seem almost overwhelmed by the works of art”.
Only a few pieces were retained – among these a small table designed by Piero Portaluppi, and the Bechstein piano – consequently the Boschi Di Stefano Foundation arranged to purchase the necessary replacement furniture, chosen to match the period of the building and with the works displayed.  
Gli arredi
Photo: Václav Šedý
  “Agena” ceiling light of the Galassia collection by Alessandro Mendini, produced by Venini in 1993, installed in the former master bedroom of the Boschi Di Stefanos.
Photo: Václav Šedý
Gli arredi
Free entrance.
Reservations needed for groups of 18 or larger.

On ancient merchants’ footprints: Hiking the Italian Apennine Mountains

The Salt Paths are ancient merchant trails connecting the inland cities of Northern Italy to the Mediterranean Coast across the Apennine Mountains.

Val D'Aosta on map of ItalyI hosted hiking tours on the footprints of ancient salt merchants in late Summer month with local guides & co-hosts Lorenza and Gianni.

The experience was exhilarating.

 

Our group of hikers on our first day on the Salt Paths in Piedmont

 

Over 8 days we hiked on separate path stretches, not following one single specific trail, starting from the quaint village of Pontecurone in Piedmont, Italy, eventually reaching the Mediterranean Sea at Portofino, on the Italian Riviera.

We “immersed” in more than 2000 years of history as there ancient routes had been used by prehistoric populations inhabiting these regions, later by the Romans and throughout the Middle Ages by salt merchants and their mules to transport salt from the coast to Italian inland cities.

Mount Antola

Mount Antola, Piedmont

One  of the most ancient path, trailing high on the crest of Mount Antola (about 500 ft) on the Ligurian Apennines, offers hikers the opportunity to admire a majestic landscape in the Italian regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Liguria: unobstructed mountains’ views, deep valleys dotted with small hamlets, distant creeks, the Mediterranean Sea peeking among the summits at some point.

As a matter of fact, after a few days of hiking in the remote distance all members of our group could catch a glimpse of the far away Mediterranean Sea and the Ligurian Coastal villages of Rapallo, Portofino, Cinque Terre, our final destination.

Every night of our 8 day hike we stopped at lovely B&B in small villages, in the past centuries thriving posts along the Salt Paths.

Due to the huge value of salt throughout history, praised as preserving agent, essential human and animal diet component and as flavor enhancer, simple rest stations along these Apennine Mountain trails evolved into villages and later in larger towns with their own economies, such as  the ancient small town of Bobbio, which thrived in the Middle Ages.

Originally a convent during Roman times, the city of Bobbio became a central and favorite stopover for merchants and pilgrims during their journeys.

Enriched by the taxes imposed to merchants,  it provided rest and protection to caravans, also a spiritual haven to thousands of pilgrims en route to Rome. A Roman bridge (the Humpback Bridge built, according to a legend, by the devil), medieval churches, an ancient abbey (the Abbey of St. Columbanus) and a mosaic of byzantine origin stand as witnesses of thousands years of history.

But one of the highlight of our days was food!

We ate delicious picnic lunches, and at night, once arrived at our destination, delectable dinners featuring local, homemade delicious foods including: wild boar, flavorful stews and roasts, hams, cheese and salami, mushroom dishes, local jams and preserves, herb liqueurs and other delicacies.

Despite we traveled over 60 miles in total from Piedmont to the Italian Riviera, which we reached at Portofino, (around 8-10 miles per day average), the local food could not have been more different from one location to the next.

The lower valleys provided corn and wheat for our lovely polenta and homemade pasta, mixed with chestnut flour, root vegetables, sauces, meats and delectable mushrooms.

The not to far away Mediterranean sea provided plenty of seafood; in Liguria we ate pasta dressed by the local famous pesto, a sauce made of fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil, all locally sourced ingredients.

Mount Antola

Mount Antola, one of the tallest Apennine Mountain.

At night we found shelter at “agriturismo” – the Italian version of country B&Bs – which also provided our amazing and overly abundant evening dinners.

In the morning, after healthy breakfasts of local breads, jams, cheese and cold cuts, fruit, two or three types of pie, we slowly descended from the top of mountains to more gentle trails among forests of beeches and chestnuts.

Along the way, we passed small alpine huts, distant castle ruins, towers and farms. Eventually the sea got closer, and we could feel the salty breeze in our nostrils.

Before reaching the coast we still had time to experience another village, with its own traditions and legends. At Uscio, we visited a church built 1000 years ago, spared from destruction by the locals’ struggle against the bishop’s plans to demolish it to build a bigger one.

Close-by, we were led through a 200 year old factory Trebino Roberto featuring a private museum of the company’s main manufacturing product: church tower bells. The factory still produces tower clocks for churches all over the world. Some of their tower bells are at the Vatican, others in other main Italian churches.

A few miles away, a sanctuary rises to celebrate a miracle happened 600 years ago; and nearby, the villagers swear their valley is visited by UFOs on a regular basis!

Our last section of trail took us to a beach through a splendid forest: Portofino, a small village on the Ligurian Coast. Portofino, Italy - End of the hike

Portofino is a picturesque, half-moon shaped seaside village with pastel houses lining the shore of the harbor, shops, restaurants, cafes, and luxury hotels.

The crystalline green waters reveal a myriad display of aquatic life. A castle sits atop the hill overlooking the village.

The vegetation had changed and the salty aroma blended with the perfume of maritime pines, colored houses lined the harbor.

After a 8 day hike along ever changing trails, crossing wooded area, bare peaks, quaint village, we reached our destination, the Ligurian Coast, not too far from the famous Cinque Terre, the place where everything started, the origin of the Salt Paths.

We celebrated the end of our hike with a scrumptious Italian gelato!

 

Italian Apennine Mountains: rediscovering ancient trails.

The Salt Paths are a network of hiking trails in Italy, stretching for hundreds of miles along the Italian Apennine Mountains  from the inland planes and cities of Piedmont and Lombardy to the Ligurian Coast, jutting on the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy - Area of the Salt Paths

Italy – Area of the Salt Paths

In the past these trails were never considered a playground or a hiker’s paradise. Used since prehistory, and later by Roman troops, they were trekked by salt merchants during the Middle Ages until the 18th century, transporting salt from the coast.

After a short resurgence during World War II, they went forgotten for decades. These trails are now enjoying a sort of rebirth, gaining new popularity among Italian and international hikers.

The Salt Path itinerary from Piedmont to the Coast

The Ligurian region, on the North Western Coast of Italy was in the past arid and stony, with very little arable soil and sharp cliffs.

But the climate was mild and the nearby sea a good source of food.

By building stonewalls and carrying fertile soil from Etruria, modern Tuscany the Liguri, a local pre-Roman population, transformed this area into a livable land, with abundant fruit and vegetables.

To supplement their diet the Liguri also extracted salt from the sea and bartered it inland for meat and grains.

Salt was, then and for a long time, a scarce commodity, so important that legionnaires during the Roman Empire were partially paid with it. The word “salary” comes from “salt.”

The most common mean of transportation for salt was backpacking, eventually supported by mules, thus carving an intricate network of paths along the Apennine Mountains sloping to she sea.

The Apennine Mountains

Over the course of centuries, transportation got relatively safe when traffic and commerce were thriving; other times outlaws and bandits made the journeys extremely dangerous.

Churches and inns were built along paths and local rulers began to impose duties and taxes in exchange for security and the right to  cross their lands. Many dynasties were founded on the commerce of salt and the control over its routes. Posting stations were built and soldiers were posted on the trails to protect merchants.

From small posting stations soon entire villages and then prosperous small town towns were established such as Bobbio and Uscio.

The use of this web of trails for commerce purposes ended around the 18th century, but gained a new popularity during World War II.   Groups of Italian Partisans fighting German troops used these abandoned and overgrown paths to reach their hideouts on the Apennine Mountains, smuggling supplies and weapons to launch their attacks.

Today the Salt Path trails are experiencing a sort of renaissance thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers i.e. Club Alpino Italiano (CAI – Italian Alpine Club) which, in the past years, has restored and marked this web of mountain paths in an area of Italy still virtually unknown by international tourists until a short while ago.

Wild horses on the Italian Salt Paths

Despite still relatively unknown many hikers, from Italy and around the world, now hike these trails year round and are rewarded by lovely scenery, possibly a glimpse of wild life such as boar, wolf and horses having escaped from domestication and become wild, quaint villages, breathtaking views, awesome food, and lastly, the Mediterranean Sea.

Arriving to the Mediterranean Coast, after hikes that can be long or short, depending on your choice, can be a huge reward in itself alone.

Portofino, Italy - End of the hike

Portofino, Italy

By L. Gallia and Cinzia Gallia Schlicksup

 

 

 

Ferrara, homeland of gourmet, innovative food

By Lorenza Gallia.

Stiamo facendo progetti acquisterecci a Ferrara, che ogni giorno cambiamo e rifacciamo…. Ci sono delle dimore cinquecentesche, nel pieno centro per 140,000 euro. Incredibile. Gia messe a posto, sugli 80 mq. Mannaggia…..

Ferrara - by Flickr

Ferrara – by Flickr

Va’ be, sono con la bava alla bocca, ma tiriamo innanzi….

A Ferrara stiamo bene, all’ingrasso, come sempre in Italia.

Ferrara - by Flickr

Ferrara – by Flickr

E poi questi qui sono diavoli tentatori, con le sagre del maialazzo, le paste all’uovo con l’anguilla e spuma di aglio, i cavitelli all’asparago e pesce, mai sentito anyway, ma che tira molto. E le degustazioni, le happy hour, le salame da sugo, le pancettine, le coppie ferraresi, la tenerina che mi piace tanto….

Ma chi lo lascia piu sto paese? Ormai la gola e’ l’unico vizio rimastomi,  per il quale ucciderei….

Domani altro tour de force gastro enterico. Il colesterolo mi ha ispessito le arterie tanto da chiamarsi ormai polistirolo, ma e’ una vecchia battuta ormai. E mi si sono ingrossate le vene vanitose. Vecchia anche questa.

Qui non se ne puo più a starci a dietro: o il concertino rock, o il festival musicale Ferrara Sotto Le Stelle, o i giovani laureati del Conservatorio Musicale di Ferrara che fanno una performance, o i volontari del FAI. Insomma, come ti giri c’e’ un evento. Da stess partecipatorio. Ma io sono contenta. Ogni giorno arriviamo a casa con la sportina piena di volantini degli eventi. Piuttosto che niente la visita al Camerino delle Duchesse, messo in un angolo, tutto affrescato in ori e stucchi nel 1500. E robette del genere.

Bread - by Flick

Bread – by Flick

Per fortuna che lavorano in pochi, altrimenti tutte queste iniziative andrebbero deserte!!

Ferrara, gourmet breads, pastas, rice, wine & more

By Lorenza Gallia

A Ferrara, giorni un po “frenetici”: con la storia di “Ferrara The ExcelLand“, collegata ad Expo di Milano,  c’è molta attività in città, con stand gastronomici, assaggi di cibo, presentazioni alimentari e altro connesso al “food”.

Ferrara  by Flickr

Ferrara by Flickr

Noi ci siamo intrufolati un po’, abbiamo partecipato a un paio di cooking demonstrations con degustazione, e mica robetta… Uno chef stellato dopo l’altro che fanno scintille …. Con anguille, olio grattuggiato e altre stranezze culinarie, oltre naturalmente a pane, riso,  pasta, pomodori locali.

Oggi siamo andati in visita a un pastificio locale.

Pasta - by Flickr

Pasta – by Flickr

Prima, presentazione abbastanza interessante all’università, e poi un pranzo da nababbi, in locale stellato, (una sola Michelin, darn), ma era la prima volta… Mi sono emozionata…. Adesso in compenso ho un bel mal di stomaco, ma deve essere stata la vellutata di mascarpone finale che mi ha dato la mazzata.

Poi abbiamo appunto fatto la visita a questa meraviglia di pastificio: tutto automatizzato, solo 3 lavoratori e 4 robot, che fa un po’ impressione.

I robot fanno tutto loro. E queste linee lunghissime che impastano, stirano la pasta all’uovo, tagliano, seccano, imballano e impacchettano. E tre donne che stanno in fabbrica a controllare un produzione enorme che va 24/7. Pare che i robot non dormano, né vadano in vacanza. Non fanno nemmeno i bambini.

Allora, dato che ci eravamo intrufolati, cioe non facevamo parte della delegazione ufficiale in visita al pastificio, ci hanno fatto “lavorare”, vale a dire fare gli interpreti per dei visitatori stranieri.

Che li avevano gli interpreti, ma facevano davvero pena, e noi ci siamo divertiti.

Per premio, il patron, che mi faceva anche un po il filo…..circa anni 80, basso, pelato, cum pancia (che sucesso….) mi ha fissato un appuntamento con il capo delegato dell’Unesco a Ferrara, che vedremo la prossima settimana, e martedi andiamo a fare un aperitivo e in serata ci spostiamo sul Delta del Po, ospiti di un altro amico, proprietario di una fetta di territorio adibita a ville su palafitte per guardare gli uccelli del delta.

Insomma, ma io che ci torno a fare a casa???

 

Insomma, ognuno e’ snob a modo suo: c’e’ chi si gasa per gli hotels a 18 stelle e chi si gasa per un incontro con il delegato Unesco a Ferrara…

Ferrara  by Flickr

Ferrara by Flickr

Chisssa che gli dico, poi??

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