Whilst parents were outdoing the younger generation and cycling the Stelvio, I was at the bottom taking photos. Here’s my panoramic shot that somewhere contains Via Stelvio and probably some bits of the Swiss Alps
At a restaurant in the centre of Bormio I took a chance and ordered gnocchi, given it was on the special menu. Most of the time I have had gnocchi it is pretty average – just a starchy, relatively tasteless blob, and it is what goes with it that makes the meal OK. I was incredibly surprised, then, to have a very simple dish, with just a bit of mozerella on it, and the most amazing gnocchi I have ever tasted! Instead of teaspoon sized balls, the gnocchi was much smaller – more like really large,swollen pieces of arborio rice. It just melted in my mouth, and was particularly tasty with the addition of some chilli infused extra virgin olive oil that was plonked on the table part way through the meal. I think I have a new mission to find out how they made it so good!
The menu also had some fantastic translation errors, which definitely added to the authentic atmosphere:
[the middle one ends with “chees of nuisance” which gave a giggle or two]
A totally foreign sight to me. Particularly in a small alpine resort town. I mean, what did they think was going to happen? They also seemed to be exuding a “Canadian Park Ranger” vibe rather the usual Polizi uniform which made it that much more entertaining.
Given the gun situation I just went for a sly sneaky photo of them, rather than being too overt…
In Denmark I had seen a tonne of billboards and ads in bus shelters for Aperol, some kind of orange aperatif. In a cafe in Milan, we kept spotting these orange drinks with ice in wine glasses going out to customers. On enquiry, it was an Aperol Spritzer – a mix of Aperol, soda water, a slice of lemon and Prosecco, and apparently quite the famous Italian cocktail. Yes, please, sign me up! After getting a round they proved quite delicious and I can definitely recommend them.
Later on, when I became a cycling orphan (the folks ditched my to spend three hours riding up a steep hill. Don’t ask me why they put themselves through that), and had made my way around the entirety of the small town that is Bormio, the obvious answer to what to do with my time was to sit in the sun and drink my new favourite cocktail on my own. So much better than 3.5hrs of torturous bike riding!
Bormio is a ski resport in the mountains of Italy, very near the border with Switzerland. I ended up there after crashing Mum and Dad’s holiday as my exams finished earlier than expected (due to the helpful fact that my last exam time was only confirmed a week before). They chose Bormio as it is the intersection of two famous cycle routes that were part of the Gyro D’Italia, and relatively close to France, as they have come to Europe (for the first time since they were my age) to chase the Tour De France.
Bormio is a truly bizarre concept of a town. One would be forgiving for thinking they were in Austria or Switzerland, apart from the Italian writing everywhere. It is clearly an alpine ski resort, and the buildings look nothing like what you would expect in Italy. A small dip in the valley, with dramatic mountains and sharp cliff edges everywhere you look. It seems like there are only two houses that realised they were in Italy and didn’t have a bavarian/alpine feel to them.
I later discovered the old town, which is where all the italian influenced houses and buildings are. There are beautiful old midieval alleways with grey stone creations of all sizes. The “town sqaure” was a little tricky to find, but once we spotted the cathedral spire and the clocktower we were headed in the right direction. The square was quite the sight, and as we sat down to our very Italian 10pm dinner, it felt all very authentic. Especially once the Aperol’s and Prosecco’s arrived! It was also the most amazing Italian food I had ever tasted. A simple peperoni pizza was so much better than any other I’ve ever had – there’s a lot to be said for good quality ingredients.
Looking out of our hotel window, we could see the a big grassy patch carved out of the mountain side, leading straight to all the cabins and lined with lights – obviously the main ski run off the mountain in Winter. Oh how I would love to come down the mountain to my luxurious accomodation! A far cry from a New Zealand ski field, but it definitely has the Queenstown/Wanka/Methven feel to it: perfectly groomed alpine resort, with nothing but flashy accomodation and exbhorbitantly priced cafes and bars. Very aesthetically pleasing though, I must say. Even if I joined the Cycling Orphan club for much of the time, I definitely picked a winning time to crash mum and dad’s holiday – a bit of a step up from Cook’s Beach!