Part Two of our recent trip to the mountains. Here's Part One if you would like to read...

Next morning we tucked into a huge breakfast buffet offering cakes, toast, jam, cereal, tea, coffee, juice, boiled eggs, bread, cheese, ham, yoghurt, fruit etc, then got in the car and headed for a place called Serrai di Sottoguda

We  didn’t want to risk going too high with Alessia in her pregnant state so this was a great alternative. 

It’s a narrow canyon with ice cold flowing rapids that leads up to a place called Malga Ciapela where in the winter season we found out you are welcome to take part in the local triathlon ;) 

From Malga Ciapela you can take a cable car up to an impressive height of 3265m…From where we were standing it looked like a vertical ascent, definitely not for the faint hearted and unfortunately off limits for us at this point in time but already in our bucket list perhaps in 4 or 5 years.

The staff at the hotel we stayed at were very friendly and helpful, and for our waitress nothing was too much trouble. Mountain food in fact can be rather challenging for whom, like us, have gone meat and dairy-free. The part that I most enjoyed when visiting though is the bread. Rustic and humble, with the smell of hay and the warm aroma of fennel seeds. I am indeed talking about one of my favourite breads, the one made with rye flour. At the dinner table we discovered a variation which consists of a hard flat bread served normally with cheese and cucumber called Schüttelbrot. Alessia’s new obsession is to try and replicate the flavour in our own kitchen. She is hunting for a good recipe at the moment so if anyone knows what I am talking about please let us know more.

Last day, after stuffing our faces at breakfast again, we decided to take another light walk on a designated trail called Retic. 

We  parked the car in a lay by and headed down the trail. With Jenna free to run the path took us around ancient farm buildings of local architecture, bright green fields and awesome panoramas. 

We  had lunch under a waterfall and I went mushroom hunting through the fallen needles of the towering fir trees. 

Of  course the trail ended with a beer or two accompanied by a slice of apple strudel.

Finally it was time to say Ciao to the mountains and head home. Next time, when the little one is born and old enough we’ll be hitting the peaks I’m sure.


We’re just back from an amazing few days spent high up in the Marmolada mountain range of the world famous Dolomites, and with all that oxygen in my lungs I’m having difficulty typing without nodding off.

First stop, before reaching our destination and hotel, Lake Alleghe. The town is a pretty holiday resort both for the ski fanatics in the winter and for guys whom, like us, want to find some solace from the heat of the summer down in the plain; the town in fact is 1000m above sea level. 

We were all in need of a rest from driving so before checking the town we crashed out on free sun beds right at the water’s edge. With the weather bright enough for sunglasses, but nippy enough to wear a cozy fleece all we had to do next was close our eyes and listen to the water break against the pebbles. Jenna was on her best behaviour despite the appearance of an oversized Labrador taking its owner for a walk.

Then it was beer o’clock. And very nice it was too.

Back on the road we passed small fir and pine forests, stacks of logs for fire wood and even sawn planks air drying on stickers with painted end grain to prevent rotting. I joked with Alessia about shoving one in the boot of the car for a future wood working project. I won’t try to describe the stunning views, but perhaps even Alessia’s beautiful pictures don’t do them justice either. 

They are extraordinary mountains; a collection of exceptional geological features unique in the world. Because of the type of stone and dramatic events that have shaped the peaks over millions of years the cliff faces turn a pink colour which is really visible just before dawn. 

The unique shape is majestically described by Dolomieu – the scientist after whom these mountains are named - who wrote this in 1791:

“[…] These mountains, whose peaks rise above the reign of the clouds […] are made up of different species of rocks. The basements, the thickness of which varies, incline differently, bringing them closer or further away from a vertical position, nevertheless directed towards a central point. Their prolongation leads to the formation of sharp points, broken crests and jagged angles that characterise and indicate from afar mountains known as primitive […]”.

At around five thirty in the evening we got to our quirky hotel which was located in a tiny, ancient settlement called Digonera, population just ninety two residents.

Jenna had never stayed in a hotel before and was a bit anxious. The first night she cried when we went down for dinner, but by the second she was happier. After dinner I took full advantage of the bath tub and must’ve stayed soaking for almost an hour. Apparently I was fast asleep in bed by nine thirty.

This is end of part one. If you are curious to see more about a walk through a mountain canyon, a pretty waterfall and some funghi specimens don't miss part two in a couple of days.

Until then.


Let’s talk about rainy Summer days. This morning we woke and my first thought was that we’d skipped August altogether and had somehow been transported to the  middle of September. The morning air was crisp and the sky grey and gloomy. Jenna on the other hand didn’t mind at all a morning walk through soggy woods, the dew on the ground much appreciated after the recent heat wave. While zigzagging through wet leaves and bushes we encountered a small herd of elusive roe deer (six, I think) which were not nearly as amused as I was and did mostly what deer do: which is first panic and second hop off into the undergrowth.

Back at the house my socks and feet are wet and I’m feeling a bit uneasy to tell you the truth. I’m wondering if summer’s over with already and whether or not I should start brewing hot teas and rearranging the wardrobe with more seasonal attire. No, I’m being silly. I tell myself this is only the beginning of August and that means plenty of time for balmy dinners outside in the front garden and evening strolls with a gelato in tow. I check  the weather forecast for the couple of days ahead just to be sure, and it’s scorching sun all next week. Yes.

Today though, I’ve dried off and decided to beat the blues and enjoy the nice breeze by baking a rather cozy cake. It just sounded the right thing to do.

I hope you will excuse me presenting you with a recipe which has absolutely nothing to do with an Italian Summer day but my intent was solely to bring comfort to anyone in an (unexpected) rainy Summer morning situation.

This cake is nothing fancy, it’s an easy treat and the perfect accompaniment to a nice mug of coffee or afternoon tea with a good book.

90ml milk of your choice (I normally use rice milk)
6 Tbsp. veg oil or coconut oil
6 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 medium mashed ripe bananas
1 tbsp chia seeds+3 tbsp water
250gr flour (150gr self raising +50 rice flour+ 50 wholemeal flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder or cream tartar
½ tsp. sea salt
100gr chopped nuts + seeds (I used walnuts, pecans, flax and pumpkin seeds)
120gr chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180° C.
Make the chia ‘egg’.
Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in a blender and blend until smooth.

 In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate.

Pour into a 24-cm cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (1 hour and 10 min in my oven). If using a ring cake tin 35 minutes are enough.

And when the time came to take the cake out of the oven the clouds opened up just enough to show the glowing turquoise of an August sky. Typical.

Cheers to Summer and banana bread.