Once that was done, we headed off towards Italy. It was raining really hard for the entire drive and about an hour and half from Forni, we stopped again (we had stopped there on the way to Davos a few weeks ago) at a great rest stop for cake and cappuccinos. I had an excellent poppy-seed sponge cake topped with raspberries and a raspberry whipped cream. Megs went for an apfel strudel since she was on the hunt for the best strudel. We were looking forward to a relaxing stay in Forni, catching up on blogs, planning and booking our tickets to India and getting our mains cable for the van (the one we use to plug the vehicle in) fixed. The cable had mysteriously stopped working somewhere between Munich and Innsbruck.
We arrived in Forni in the late afternoon and this time we didn’t miss the turnoff to the house. Sue buzzed us in since she was teaching piano and we made ourselves at home. We had a very relaxing evening and went to bed fairly early. We both slept soundly that evening, grateful to be back in real beds.
The next morning, we drove down with Sue to see Jessica, their daughter, who is finishing high school in Udine. It was nice to see Jessica as the last time we had seen her was on Cortes and she must have been about twelve or thirteen. We went for lunch at local favourite near the school. The ambience was very inviting and professional – real linens. We thought this was going to be an expensive place for lunch but the prices were extremely reasonable. We all ordered different pizzas – I had the otto gusti (eight flavours that included black olives, yellow and red peppers, mushrooms, prosciutto, artichokes, anchovies and cheese) and Megs had the San Daniele (prosciutto crudo and ricotta). I can’t remember the names of the other pizzas.
The pizza was outstanding – a super thin crust absolutely loaded with toppings. Sue treated us to lunch which was really nice of her and so I thought it would be nice to go for gelatos and coffee. We then went to see Jessica’s apartment where she was staying while going to school. This was followed by a visit into the old town of Udine because Jess wanted to show me what an "affogatto" was – soon to become my drink of choice. I had mentioned over lunch that we had had this delicious espresso in a mug lined with gelato in Florence at Vivoli’s back in 2008 and I hadn’t been able to find it on a menu anywhere else since. Sue informed me that this was actually available at pretty much any café that also served gelato and that the name for this combination was “affogatto”, literally translating to “drowned”. That is, a scoop of gelato is drowned in espresso.
We ended up a fancy café and sat outside for our coffees. I say fancy because it had a large chandelier inside (take a look at the photo). I ordered an affogatto naturally, with a scoop of hazelnut gelato. I had originally thought that it always came with vanilla ice cream, but when I realized that you could choose your flavour of ice cream, I was most excited! We didn’t linger too long at the café since Sue had to get back to Forni in time for her 4pm piano lessons and we still had an hour drive back.
The following morning we woke up to a beautiful day of sunshine. It was a crisp morning and the view from the porch of the Dolomites towering above us was spectacular. That day we spent just relaxing, planning and booking our tickets to India, and went for a short walk around Forni. It was quite a planning and coordination feat since we had to figure out where and when to park the car, how to get from there to London, from London to Bangalore and back, where to stay in London both times, and then how to get from London to Scotland, where we’d be spending Christmas and New Year’s, and then eventually back to where we’d parked our car. Needless to say, it took a couple of hours to figure out all the connections and timings. When we were done though, it was very relieving to have finally made all our bookings and have a plan since were heading to India in just over a month’s time. That evening, we joined Sue and Dino for dinner at a local pizzeria.
It was the monthly meeting of a group of Sue’s English students who met and spoke only in English as a way to continue practicing well after classes had stopped. We thought it was a really good idea and one that we should institute when we get back to Vancouver – perhaps a French night? It was really nice to meet some other locals from Forni and to be able to help them out with their conversation night. I should also mention that the pizza I had that night was perhaps the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life – pizza Profums (pomodoro, mozzarella, cervo affumicato, rucola, radic di mont (in stagione) It was a really simple thin-crust (almost redundant saying this when you’re in Italy as I don’t think they make crusts any other way) pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, locally smoked elk , arugula, wild raddichio which was in season (that grows wild, high up in the Dolomites ). It will hands down be the pizza to beat.
The next day we were fortunate enough to have another gorgeous day. We drove down to Forni di Sotto since Sue wanted to pick the last of her produce from her larger garden. She has a small garden in her backyard, but grows most of her produce down in di Sotto. We also stopped by a campsite at the edge of town to see if we could borrow a mains cable from them to try and narrow down the source of our electrical problem in our van. We wanted to see if it was a problem with the cable or an issue inside the van and I was desperately hoping it was the former. Sue spoke to the campsite owner and he was happy to lend us a cable. When we got back to the house, I tested out the borrowed cable and voila, we had 220V in the van again! So it was a cable problem after all…Sue called the campsite again to find out when we could return the cable and the guy offered to fix our cable now that he knew it was a cable problem.
He swung by the house that evening and picked up our cable to fix. That evening, I went for a bike ride since it was a beautiful day out. I saw lots of youngsters from Forni out on their cross-country roller skis training for the upcoming winter season. I only saw one other biker that evening and I misjudged when sunset was so I came back home around 7pm, in the pitch black. Megs said she was about to begin fussing and in another twenty minutes or so, she would have been driving out in the van to get me!
The following day, we went for another walk through Forni and went down to the mill with Sue to visit Dino’s mother, who lives above the mill’s office. She’s a sweet old lady and only speaks Italian so we were glad to have Sue to translate. She was very happy to see us and after an espresso there, we went downstairs to feed the kittens. There were some tiny kittens that were very hungry so we fed them some old cheese scraps. It made us really miss our adorable tabby back home, the one and only Tifa, who is now gracing Braeden with her presence back on the Sunshine Coast. I rode out that afternoon to the campsite to check if our cable had been fixed. I returned their cable and got ours back and the guy told me that it was just a loose connection. I was really grateful that he had been able to fix it but when I retuned back to the house and tested the cable, it still wasn’t working! Oh well, it was worth a try but frustrating because if we had known that it wouldn’t be fixed, we could have at least taken it elsewhere.
We were leaving day after tomorrow and it was a weekend, so we’d just have to get to our next campsite and have a hunt for a new cable then. That evening, Sue had choir practice so we went out with Dino for some gelato at Gardenia, a cute little gelateria/bar/café. It is owned and operated by one of Forni’s residents and they make all the gelato on the premises so you never quite know what flavours you’ll be pleasantly surprised by. They had an array of flavours including baccio, hazelnut, chocolate, super dark chocolate and cream. I naturally ordered an affogatto while Megs and Dino stuck to gelato. The little café had a really nice interior ambience and was one that I would frequent quite regularly if we lived there. We had a good long chat with Dino and Sue that evening as we had on a few of the other evenings, too.
We had really lucked out with the weather on this visit as it was another bluebird day. Sue had called over a few friends with their families that afternoon for an outdoor barbecue lunch in their backyard. Jessica was also going to be back in time from Udine to join us for the barbecue. It was a wonderfully warm day, hovering around 18 degrees and with the wonderful company, food and fall colours, it was an amazing afternoon. If I haven’t mentioned it already, I should now and say that Sue is an amazing cook. Which suits me just fine because I’m an amazing eater ;) .
Lunch consisted of various barbecued meats – chicken, sausages, and ribs all from the local butcher, salads (blue goat cheese salad with fruit and nuts, coleslaw), polenta, various breads, a cheese platter and coffees (with optional gelato or grappa) for dessert. It was really nice chatting with well-travelled people from a variety of backgrounds – a park ranger, an engineer, all who had decided to live in Forni. The common theme was that they definitely loved the outdoors. It was only later on in the afternoon that I learned that they could’ve taken me photo-trekking through the dolomites and even see Steinbock within arms’ reach! Oh well, we would have to save that for our next visit to Forni. Around three or four in the afternoon, the sun dipped behind the mountains, and the delightful barbecue came to an end. We cleaned up and retired to the house. That evening, we were all too stuffed for dinner, so we skipped it and went straight to dessert. We returned to Gardenia, our third visit in the last five days. I was feeling a bit more adventurous tonight and strayed from my usual affogatto. I also wanted something more filling since this was essentially dinner. So I had spaghetti! No, not the kind you’re thinking of with pasta and sauce – this was vanilla gelato noodles, with strawberry sauce to mimic pasta sauce, whipped cream and shaved, white chocolate “cheese”.
Megs went for the “Copa Giaf” – a decadent hazelnut concoction consisting of three scoops of gelato: cream gelato, hazelnut gelato, chocolate gelato, full whole hazelnuts and whipped cream. Jess had a banana split, Sue a hot chocolate, and Dino a tall glass of possibly chocolate gelato and whipped cream. Gardenia was quickly becoming my favourite gelateria…
The next morning, we woke up fairly early to begin packing up the car and said our goodbyes to Dino as he was heading off for his weekly, Sunday hike. We were a bit longer than we thought we’d be and so we stayed for another delicious home cooked lunch – oh such a hard life! Soon after, we said our goodbyes to Jess and Sue, too, as they were heading off to run some errands and we still had a bit of packing up to do. Before we left the house, we decided that we should do one last gelato run, so back we went to Gardenia for another couple scoops and then finally we headed off. It was a wonderful week in Forni di Sopra with Dino, Sue and Jess who were most gracious hosts. We enjoyed the company, the conversation, use of their washing machine, and needless to say, the food and can’t thank them enough for accommodating us!
From Innsbruck, we drove all the way to Forni di Sopra, Italy to visit our friends Sue and Dino. For those of you that have been following along, you may recall that we had already been to Forni on this trip when we were with Rod and Tan. We had only stayed for a single night then and so we were returning for a proper visit. I had been on the hunt flip-flops for a few weeks now, ever since I had left them outside our van in the Berner Oberland and some creature had made off with one flip-flop in the night! I don't fancy showering barefoot in campsite showers so I’ve been on the hunt for a new pair. Let me just say that looking for summer footwear when approaching winter can be very frustrating. Anyhow, there was a big sports store only a few kms our campsite so we stopped off and I was finally able to find a pair of badepantofels (german for swimming flip-flops?) in the swimming section of the sports store.