Saturday, July 9, 2011

Segonzano, Asiago, Valsugana

Mountains in Trentino

Visiting Lucia and Marta in Segonzano was easily one of my favorite adventures this year. Away from the hustle and bustle of the cities, one can breathe deep and enjoy the majesty of the mountains and forests of Northern Italy. For background info about Segonzano and Lucia, written last year on my first visit to Trentino, click on this link:

2010/10/segonzano

After getting settled at the Environmental Center where they live, we drove to a nearby spot for a stroll around the lake, followed by pizza.

Lucia and Marta awaiting our pizzas

The next day, Lucia took us up to Parco Naturale, Paneveggio di San Martino for an afternoon of hiking. When I look at the photos of that day, I long to return to witness more of the mountain beauty.

Parco Naturale, Paneveggio di San Martino

The Dolomites in the background

We hiked for several hours up to a spot where we stopped for a picnic lunch. We could hear the music of cowbells below us, as a herd of cattle grazed upon the mountain grasses. After lunch, we found ourselves amidst a herd of sheep grazing near our picnic spot.

Lucia amidst the sheep

After our hike we visited the Paneveggio di San Martino, where there is a forest famous for its spruce trees, used to make violins and other wood instruments. Their website, parcopan. org explains:

The forest is a big area (2700 hectares) in the northern section of the Park covered by woods of spruce firs. These well-structured and ecologically complex conifer woods with very high trees (over 40 metres) and with such an extension are rare in Europe. However, this forest is also well-known all over Europe for another reason, and famous violin makers come and visit it: since its trees (the so-called "abeti di risonanza"
, or resonance firs) are particularly suitable for the production of violins which assume a particular resonance, this forest is called "La Foresta dei Violini" (The Forest of Violins).

The next day, Luciano joined us for a drive to the Altopiano (a mountain plateau area) in the Veneto region. It was a misty, cloudy day, and we were chased by thunderstorms throughout our journey. We stopped in the city of Asiago, famous for its cheese and nearby ski slopes. Although probably best known internationally for its cheese, Asiago was also the site of a major battle between Austrian and Italian forces in World War I. While there, we visited the Asiago Military Memorial, which contains the remains of 60,000 Italian and Austrian soldiers.

From the photo below you can see the definite Austrian influence on the architecture of this region. The wide clean streets and tall church spires provide a distinct contrast to other regions of Italy.

Asiago
Asiago street scene

We had a wonderful afternoon driving through various mountain and valley towns, then stopped in Borgo Valsugana, a picturesque village, for gelato.

Borgo Valsugana

Luciano, Lucia and Marta

During my stay in Segonzano, one of Lucia and Marta's fondest wishes was to make a cheesecake, a dessert they enjoyed last year on their first visit to the United States. So we assembled a reasonable facsimile of ingredients. Though cream cheese is easy enough to find in Italy, graham crackers for the crust are not, so we used crushed digestive biscuits instead, which worked out fine. In fact, our efforts were a huge success, and the resulting cheesecake tasted as good as any I've had in the States.

Cheesecake Italian style!

My stay in Segonzano with Lucia and Marta was all too short: they are delightful company and it was refreshing and invigorating to be in the midst of mountains and forests. I can't wait to go back for another vistit!

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