In Italy, Do as the Italians Do-Head for the Hills

By Wise, Joe | Medical Economics, March 6, 2000 | Go to article overview

In Italy, Do as the Italians Do-Head for the Hills


Wise, Joe, Medical Economics


Forget Florence. Rethink Rome. Vacation in the Val Gardens, a hiker's paradise.

Tucked away among the skyscraping Dolomites in Italy's northeast corner, the Val Gardena is more Tyrolean than Tuscan. In winter, people ski its surrounding ridges and high meadows. But in spring and summer, the wildflower-studded highlands are a hiker's paradise. At altitudes of 4,000 to 6,000 feet, the only breathtaking thing is the scenery.

My wife and I went in May, after the skiers had left and before the tour buses would arrive. The days were sunny, the wildflowers were starting to bloom, and the evenings were warm enough to dine al fresco. Our destination was the town of St. Ulrich, the patron invoked-for some reason-against difficult childbirth, dizziness, mice, and moles.

There is barely room between the mountains for the Easter-egg-pastel stucco houses in this resort village of 5,500 people. Our hotel, the Stetteneck, with only 27 guest rooms, had been owned and operated by the same family since 1938. From the cozy lobby bar to the friendly dog in the foyer, it reflects the attention given to making guests feel welcome. Our second-floor room was spacious and sunlit with parquet floors, hand-painted wooden chests, and a featherbed. French doors opened to a small balcony with table and chairs.

After unpacking and enjoying a cappuccino in the last of the cool sunshine, we had a typical Val Gardena dinner at Cucina alla Veneta, one of the 30-plus restaurants in town. It began with antipasti and ended with strudel. In between were lasagna with fontina cheese, bean soup, Wiener schnitzel, polenta, and bratwurst, along with a local red wine. As we left, the waiter thanked us in German and bade us goodbye in Italian.

This culinary and linguistic intermingling is characteristic of the region, where people speak a Romance language called Ladin at home and conduct business in Ladin, German, and Italian. St. Ulrich is called Ortisei in Italian and Urtijei in Ladin; Val Gardena is Groden in German. Fortunately for American travelers, most adult St. Ulrichers speak English quite fluently

The ethnic inhabitants of the area are descendants of the Roman soldiers sent by the Emperor Tiberius to crush the native Celts. The Val Gardena has been conquered repeatedly by the Austrians, Germans, and Italians. An elderly woman told us shed changed nationalities four times while never leaving the village.

The people we encountered showed a mixture of German reserve and Italian warmth. We asked a man on the street where to buy wine. He could have pointed us to a store, but he said, "Follow me," and took us to a shop. Our host at the hotel spent hours telling where to go hiking and find the best restaurants.

Next morning; we walked the maze of the town's cobbled streets and marveled at the variety of wood carvings for sale, ranging in size from 10 centimeters to 10 feet. Some were finished in natural wood; others had been painted to look like ceramics. Animals, trolls, toys with moving parts, angels, even a life-size creche complete with chickens and eggs, were for sale. Wood carving has been a specialty of the Val Gardena for centuries, and the area is said to have 365 carvers. The local church and museum have permanent collections of carvings donated by the artisans.

Besides wood carving, the village's main business seemed to be maintenance. Never before had I seen a town so well cared for. Everywhere, men were painting or making repairs. Shopkeepers swept their sidewalks twice a day, as a street sweeper patrolled the spotless streets. Even the highways leading to town were swept. One night at 11 o'clock, the manager of the hotel opposite ours was washing the sidewalk in front of his cafe.

We bought cheese, sausage, rolls, and wine (a light, fruity Barbera for $2) for lunch, then headed for the high meadows of the Alpe di Siusi. After an hour, when we seemed almost at eye level with the surrounding peaks, we wandered across a carpet of crocus and blue gentian and ate our picnic on a bench in the sun in front of an unoccupied cabin, one of several built for local shepherds. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

In Italy, Do as the Italians Do-Head for the Hills
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.