Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ferragosto = serious relaxation

Beautiful Bormio
Don't bother coming to Milan in August, as you'll find nobody at home. In the week before Ferragosto, a public holiday on the 15th August dedicated to relaxation since Roman times, Stephano made the crucial discovery that his office, like most of Milan, would be closed for the entire week. As the summer heat intensifies the Milanese leave, and by the time of Ferragosto, the place is all but deserted.  We decided to use this opportunity to escape to the cool of the mountains for a dose of relaxation and "wellness". Our destination was Bormio, in the Alta Valtellina region of Italy that borders Switzerland. 

After an easy three and a half hour train and bus trip from Milan, we arrived in Bormio to discover quaint cobblestoned streets and gorgeous window boxes fronting charming hotels. The town was buzzing with cyclists and motorbike riders who came for the steep mountain passes. In winter it’s skiers who come for the thrills. Bormio is famous for hosting the toughest downhill ski race in the World Cup competition.  However, what attracted us most were the tranquil walks through lush meadows and scented pine forests, oh, and most important of all, the temperature.

If you mention to anyone from Milan that you're planning to holiday in Bormio you are sure to get two recommendations.
"You must try the pizzoccheri and sciatt, and do make time to visit the hot springs wellness resorts." So we did.
After a meal of the traditional Valtellina specialties, "wellness" was a concept far from our thoughts.  To aid our recovery, and reduce our feelings of "whaleness", we avoided the hot spa. Instead we took the Bernina Express to St Mortiz. A spectacular train journey!
 In St Moritz our heads were turned by the pristine luxury,
the tempting slabs of chocolate, which on any other day we might have purchased,
and the scene of fellow travellers who had obviously over indulged.
Perhaps more victims of pizzocherri and scaitt? 

So on returning to our hotel there was only one thing left to do: venture into the "wellness and beauty centre". Saunas, Turkish steam baths, tropical scented showers, buckets of fresh ice and a long soak in the bubbling spa tub. We finally enjoyed some serious relaxation in Bormio.

 Looking hot, hot, hot Stefano!
Addio fino a quando la nostra prossima tappa Grosio.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Cremino in Menaggio & Pralinato in Torino

Perhaps you've heard it's been hot, hot, hot in Milano? Over the past few weeks we've escaped the heat a couple of times so I've taken my gelati tasting challenge to some nearby towns.
In Menaggio, on Lake Como, we followed the crowd to Gelateria Edo. After dinner we joined the rest of Menaggio milling about in the main square puzzling over which flavour of gelati to choose.
For Nic the tub of Nutella meant her choice was made. Too easy. 
I needed a little more research time. Relying on the crucial qualitative research technique of observation, I closely watched the locals to see what was the gelato of choice in Menaggio. As I stood in the middle of the throng a pattern of flavour choice emerged. 
Cremino, the house specialty, was the most frequently chosen.
Taste test
If you like gelato with your Nutella, as Nic does, then her flavour choice was a winner. 
Cremino had a thick swirl of gooey caramel laced through the delicious vanilla gelato. More creamy than I usually enjoy, but once again not too sweet. 
Delicious? Yes.
Perfection? Not quite.

Gelati rating
Nutella  *****
Cremino ****

Several weeks later we didn't quite escape the heat of Milano. We took a fast train to Torino to support Stefano's sister, Carmel, who was playing soccer for the SydneySiders in the World Masters' Games. While we warmed up watching from a shady spectator stand, Carmel ran around on a scorching soccer field.

With our temperatures racing there was only one solution. Walk quickly to the Torino's world famous foodhall Eataly for some cooling gelati.
 It was there where we tasted perfection. Pralinato!
Taste test
Pralinato - large chunks of caramel coated almonds are generously studded through the smooth, light vanilla gelato making an exquisite combination of texture and flavour. Perfection!
Gelati rating *****+
Pralinato was similar to, but even better than, the previously reviewed Croccante. 
The winning detail was the abundance of crunchy toffee almonds.
Delightedly tasting perfection - Pralinato! Carmel with her team mate Leanne.
Try them here
Gelateria Edo
Piazzia Garibaldi, Menaggio

via Nizza 230/14 
10126 Turin

 We are planning a return trip to Torino in Autumn. Are you surprised?