I just returned from a last minute, spontaneous 10 day trip to Northern Italy. My son, A.J.(Angelo) and I met up with my brother Angelo, his daughter Anna, and nephew Patrick to tour through Friuli, Trentino-Alto Adige, and a touch of Austria.
Our plan was to first visit family in the town my grandparents came from, Fanna, in Friuli. We explored our culinary roots through family meals and by tasting the local dishes and wines in Fanna and the neighboring towns. Next we headed North in Friuli to a little village near the Austrian border called Timau, which is in the Carnic Alps. Here we visited the mountaintop WWI battlefields of my Grandfather, called Freikofel & Pal Piccolo.
We spent three days at the amazing Albergo Matiz D’Otto with award winning chef Stefano Buttazzoni, tasting the unique local cuisine and incredibly flavored grappas made by our host and owner Diego Matiz. Among the highlights were the cjarsons – a ravioli-like pasta filled with a combination of potato, figs, cinnamon, herbs and more for a complex salty-sweet dish that can only be found in this remote area.
The last leg of our trip took us briefly into Austria through the Alps to the village of Canazai in Val di Fasso set in the beautiful Dolomite Mountains. Our plans to hike in the highest parts of the Dolomites were dashed due to a summer snow storm and lingering snow from the winter. This of course just meant searching for more polenta, Frico and Friuli wines– not a bad alternative. We were able to do a nice hike that brought us to an altitude of 2243 meters and what was probably the best meal on our entire trip at a mountain top hotel and restaurant called Rifugio Vajolet. The exceptional polenta dishes were rustic and served fresh out of the pot.
Last we spent a day in the beautiful city of Venice. More details to come over the next few posts. I will try to share the interesting culinary experiences we had, as well as some of the incredible places we visited, great people we met, and some of the ways the Italians live a more sustainable lifestyle.