OUR OLD FRIEND HUGO – Just to our left, some 300 or so metres below, was the Sofie-Hiitte, where our old friend Hugo was again waiting. We sipped a welcoming glass on the balcony in the warm sunlight, but knew that we were lucky as the weather can change quickly at this altitude. (Four days later these same table tops were covered in a few inches of snow.) Inside, the food was sumptuous: seafood spaghetti and the tastiest lamb chops.
The return to our base in Selva was a two-hour hike, even though the village was constantly in view in the valley. The path wound down the mountainside through trees; along the way we met cows and goats and ponies came to greet us. Sheltered in the rock, small bunches of edelweiss were still in flower, while in the distance the higher points of the mountains became ever farther away. After a brisk walk through Selva the following morning, we met Anna Messner Perathoner and her daughter Mary for a masterclass of Tyrolean cooking at the chalet Luech de Curijel to discover how to make the traditional pasta dish of crafuncins – spinach-filled ravioli – and the typical dessert of Apfelstrudel – a hint of the Germanic influences here.
Throughout the morning, we made the pasta, finely chopped the spinach and created our crescents for the fillings, before cooking them in salted water for four minutes, while our colleagues toiled over the Apfelstrudel. And then we sat down to a tasty lunch – one of our own making – to set us up for another afternoon wandering in the mountains around the valley. Skiing or hiking amid a wonderful landscape and ambience, Val Gardena and the mountains of the Dolomites are an incredible destination, all year round.