Mountain Trip – Barcis, Pordenone

I have a fear of heights, don’t ask me how I managed to climb up to the Christ Redeemer (and take photos) in Rio, let’s just say I thank my friend Christina for “holding my hand”. When a trip to the mountains of Pordenone was suggested, my heart jumped to my throat. How would I feel all the way up in the mountainous landscape that I had recently discovered and snapped many ‘a Instagram pictures of?

It’s actually incredible how fear can quite easily dissolve, like an aspirin in a glass of water, at the sheer sight of nature at it’s finest. The ascent was barely noticeable as we passed through various small villages and tunnels. As we drew nearer and nearer to the mountains, the sight of colossal evergreen trees and snow peaks put my mind at ease. I was close to nature, I was safe.

Barcis, Province of Pordenone

Barcis, Province of Pordenone

Barcis is situated in the Province of Pordenone, a 45 minute car trip from Sacile train station. The ride there and back is highly recommended for avid cyclists. Pack yourself a decent lunch of cheeses, meats, bread and wine, take in the fresh air, enjoy the sunshine and prepare to be enchanted by the emerald green lake – the Lago de Barcis.

Lago de Barcis

Lago de Barcis

Swim with the fishes and observe the elegance of the swan. Peace rules at the lake. I can only imagine that the inhabitants of this region must be laughing at those of us who choose to live in cities, just the color of the lake is enough to leave me completely mesmerized.

Lago de Barcis

Lago de Barcis

Plan your trip on a weekend and walk up to the village where they hold summer fetes and stalls. Here you can find homemade soaps, olive oil, wine, honey, pastries and liquors in every flavor under the sun! My personal favorites being amaretto, coconut, hazelnut and of course the Italian limoncello (lemon) liquors.

What's your flavor? Italian Limoncello

What’s your flavor? Italian Limoncello

Home made soaps

Home made soaps

A day to remember. Hire a car or a guide from Pordenone or Sacile. Other notable mountain villages to visit includes nearby Aviano.

The village at Barcis

The village at Barcis

Colossal Trees. Barcis

Colossal Trees. Barcis

 

 

 

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A Day Trip to Venice

So it’s been barely a year since I was last in the island city. We took a train from Sacile into Venice, which took a little under an hour. I didn’t think it possible but I am even more in love with this city.

One of the dead end back streets we discovered when weaving our way through Venice

One of the dead end back streets we discovered when weaving our way through Venice

This time round we tried our best to avoid the main streets that led either to the Rialto Bridge or to the Piazza San Marco. Surprisingly, though we tried to stay away from the masses, we either ended up taking a back street short cut straight to the Rialto Bridge or running around in circles. Once we orientated ourselves there was some room for discovery…

Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

Basilica Di Santa Maria Della Salute

This is Santa Maria Della Salute. This beautiful example of Baroque architecture is located in Dorsoduro, it can be seen across the river from Piazza San Marco and sits at the very tip of the Canal Grande.

Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco

Walking back on ourselves we crossed over to the other side of the canal to pay a quick visit to the Piazza San Marco, which was relatively peaceful and tourist free at 10:30 am.

Basilica San Marco

Basilica San Marco

I am particularly interested in the Basilica San Marco for it’s Islamic influences. I absolutely love all the gold mosaic work and Byzantine glory to this church. For a long time Venice had a strong alliance with Byzantium and this church reflects these ties.

Basilica San Marco

Basilica San Marco

Islamic influences at the Basilica San Marco

Islamic influences at the Basilica San Marco

This is one of the most beautiful architectural facades I have ever witnessed. As you can see there is a clear influence of Islamic decorative technique occurring on this facade of the Basilica San Marco. The door way imitates typically Islamic mihrab decorative techniques.

I do love my greens and clearly so do Italians. I’d be convinced to move to Italy purely for their dedication to fresh fruit and veg markets. Market foods in Venice are seasonal, fruit smells like fruit appear to like something out of this world. Just look at these giant tomatoes!

Ripe for the picking. Fresh tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Ripe for the picking. Fresh tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Beautiful sun dried tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Beautiful sun dried tomatoes at the Rialto Market

Shopping for the right mask in Venice is tricky. Many are fooled by the cheaper masks sold on stalls and in gift shops along the Canal Grande and around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. On visiting Venice you will see that masks are often ‘repeated’ as you walk along the heavily populated tourist regions. These plastic masks are more often than not, mass produced in China.

As a general rule, I would suggest walking around the quieter parts of Venice and not buying a mask at impulse in the first mask shop you encounter. You can usually tell a genuine hand made mask from a cheap Chinese plastic one by the quality and feel of the mask or by the ‘official’ made in Italy sticker inside masks. Genuine masks are hardly ever mass produced, each mask is usually individual as masks are handmade. The artists more often than not will be inside the shop, busily working away at new creations. A sign of a good mask shop is it’s artists so feel free to ask questions about their works and techniques, they are a friendly, creative and happy bunch!

 

They're all my favorites. Mask shopping in Venice

They’re all my favorites. Mask shopping in Venice

 

Pretty Faces

Pretty Faces

If you’re looking for genuine, handmade Venetian masks, the following shops are worth paying a visit to:

La Bauta

Campo San Toma 2867, San Polo, Venezia – 041 740095

Crosera San Pantalon, Dorsoduro, Venezia 041 5233461

la.bauta@yahoo.it

They don’t have a website, you’ll have to visit one of their shops to see for yourself. These masks are absolute masterpieces.

 

Atelier Marega 

Fondamenta dell’ Osmarin 4968, Venezia – 041 5223036

www.marega.it

This is one of my favorite little mask shops. The artists sit at the entrance working their magic. It’s a 5 minute walk from Piazza San Marco, towards Castello.

Ca’ Macana 

Dorsoduro 3172, 30123 – 041 5203229

http://www.camacana.com/

Freakishly entertaining mask shop!

Papier Mache 

Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5174b, 30122 – 041 5229995

http://www.papiermache.it/

Another little artist’s workshop in Castello, not far from Piazza San Marco.

Shrine to Our Lady

Shrine to Our Lady

Gothic window arches

Gothic window arch

IMG_8561

 

 

 

 

 

Foodie in Italy

It’s not everyday that I get excited about visiting the supermarket. I could easily spend an unnecessary amount of time in the vegetable section of an Italian grocery store.

Locally sourced fresh vegetables at the supermarket in Perdonone

Locally sourced fresh vegetables at the supermarket in Perdonone

 

Zucchine, Italian staple food. It's in most dishes and grows everywhere.

Zucchine, Italian staple food. It’s in most dishes and grows everywhere.

Humongous apples that actually smell like apples!

Humongous apples that actually smell like apples!

Italians love their apricots and so do I

Italians love their apricots and so do I

This one's for the cheese lovers everywhere

This one’s for the cheese lovers everywhere

It doesn't get better than this

It doesn’t get better than this

Sweets for my sweet

Sweets for my sweet

Coffee culture

Single espresso

Single espresso

Cannoli, a deliciously sweet and filling Sicilian pastry dessert.

Holy Cannoli

Holy Cannoli

And vegetarian pizza for dinner.

Italian pizza. Words cannot express how I feel about this.

Italian pizza. Words cannot express how I feel about this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride a Bike in Fontanafredda, Italy

In the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, a one hour train ride out from Venice, we discovered Fontanafredda in the province of Pordenone. At the foot of the most northern Italian mountains lies this quaint little town. I had the pleasure of calling this safe haven my resting place during my week long trip in northern Italy.

IMG_8217

Fontanafredda

The nearest train station to Fontanafredda is Sacile. Trains run through Trieste, Pordenone, Treviso and Venice along the Venice-Udine railway line. Grab yourself a bike and go for a ride around the countryside. Soak up the sun, take in the beautiful scenery of corn fields and vineyards, visit old churches and markets. I love Fontanafredda.

Fontanafredda

Fontanafredda

Beautiful Shrine

Beautiful Shrine

Italians and their vintage bikes

Italians and their vintage bikes

Catch a perfect sunset

Fontanafredda

Fontanafredda

 

I HEART Camden Town

Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been over a week since I last posted on my blog.

I have to admit that I have been busy with ‘other preoccupations’ including preparations for various trips such as my return to Italy in a couple of weeks. I have also been ill. I am very much bunged up with a cold which I assumed was just hay-fever. This hasn’t stopped me from venturing out and doing what I love most, which is a combination of discovering new and beautiful places as well as fine dining.

Yesterday I spent a sunny afternoon in my local area, Camden Town. Here are some things I love to do in Camden.

Let’s get the food part out of the way.

Market Food at Camden Town Lock Market

Market Food at Camden Town Lock Market

I love the Lock Market, especially the food court on the weekends. Nations unite as market stalls produce Latin America, Caribbean, Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Italian, British and other such world foods. My favorite has to be the stall that sells corn bread wraps. I love the black bean, meat and plantain wrap. It’s fresh, homemade, wheat free and delicious.

Savoury snacks and a coconut smoothie at Made in Brazil

Savory snacks and a coconut smoothie at Made in Brazil

Brazilians have quite literally taken over the gaff. Camden Town has a growing Brazilian population and with that comes fine dinning and food stalls. I love Made in Brazil on Inverness Street. This restaurant has been here for quite some time now though I am yet to be bored of their menu. Brazilians are big on savory snacks, yesterday I sampled their bolinho de bacalhao (salted fish cakes), coxinhas (chicken parcels) and cassava (manioc) chips. These were all watered down nicely with a fresh coconut smoothie. For mains my friend had the feijoada, the national dish of Brazil and I had the moqueca, a  fish dish from Bahia in the north.

Moqueca, a fish dish from Bahia, northern Brazil

Moqueca, a fish dish from Bahia, northern Brazil

After wolfing down our food we went in search of shoes (any excuse to go for a brisk walk in order to digest our heavy meals). I love shoes and especially shoes from Author. Author have recently branched out with stores in central London, East and in West London’s Portobello Market. They also have a cute little boutique in Camden Town. Yesterday I fell in love with these babies by MTNG Originals. Classic and perfect for the summer.

MTNG Originals Sandals

MTNG Originals Sandals

If I could spend a warm summer’s day anywhere in London, it would be on Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is a little world away from the world, a hill of a park in Chalk Farm that connects Camden with Regents Park. Many a fine summer’s days have been spent in Primrose Hill with friends and picnics. Check out the amazing view of the London skyline from the very top!

Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill

 

Catch a sunset on Primrose Hill

Catch a sunset on Primrose Hill

Regent’s Park and the Canal. My sister and I regularly walk down the canal. We love to check out the little boat houses that stretch down the canal from Camden Market to Little Venice in St. John’s Wood. I also love checking out the mansions in Regent’s Park, we walk past picking out our future homes for when we’re rich and famous. My current favorite is this one:

My Home (one day, hopefully, one day, probably not.)

My Home (one day, hopefully, one day, probably not.)

Regent's Canal

Regent’s Canal

Regent's Canal

Regent’s Canal

 

Boat Houses on Regent's Canal

Boat Houses on Regent’s Canal

Not Holland, Regent's Canal

Not Holland, Regent’s Canal

So if it’s a summer’s day, without a cloud in sight, visit Camden Town for some fine dinning, alternative shopping and a walk around somewhere quite nice.