15 July 2008

Refugio Selleries Birthday Outing

Flourless chocolate bomb with fresh red currants
My idea of a birthday cake, several small ones!
I have a lot of posts that I just can't seem to get quite caught up on, so I think I'll just skip to today's most topical post and tell and show you what we did for my birthday. Today is my actual b-day, but as Fabrizio is off today to work his part time summer job at the local swimming park, where he manages their food kiosk for a good friend, we had a wonderful outing yesterday in upper Val Chisone. This is our busy time of the year and often difficult to get away. As it turned out, yesterday, we were free to take a drive up to the upper valley and drive up into a remote spot literally just over the back of our mountains, not so far away as the crow flies.
It was a glorious sunny day and although I would have enjoyed walking in, we didn't have the time to be able to do that and so in true Italian fashion we motored in up and back into a bumpy dirt mountain road taking it nice and slow, making it easy to take in the breathtaking views of our valley. Monviso and Ghinivert peaks along the French border made their presence known poking up along the skyline and occasionally disappearing with the swirl of cotton ball clouds dotted along the borderline.
Rifugio Selleries in the autumn
Arriving at Rifugio Selleries, after bumping along this high narrow mountain road, coming round yet another corner and to our delight there it was nestled in the lap of some very dramatically beautiful peaks. To my amazement on a Monday, there quite a few cars there and a number of people enjoying the excellent selection of local Piemontese wines, under the bluest of skies with the gentle sounds of the cow bells as they topped up their tans. Inside we met the latest folks to breath new life into this old hotel, Massimo and his wife, Silvie and their darling little boy. They were busy, as this too is their busy season, but they took the time to offer us something to drink, a chat, and a tour of their recently refurbished facilities and a genuine welcome. They really are a charming forward thinking couple that I think will be making this stop in the Alps a very sought after place along the GTA. There were some other interesting folks there for a days outing also, who had to hurry back to milk their cows. Massimo introduced us to half of the owners of Casa Scaparone and Bottega Scaparon, an agrotourismo and makers of Piemontese wines and other spirits, in nearby Alba. The Refugio has their wines on offer and I am looking forward to sampling it some time. Sounds like another opportunity for a days outing to Alba is in order? The fathers and children had been hiking and were just about to depart to get the evening chores done. They are also traditional folk musicians as well and have some lovely traditional songs on their site featuring their children singing as well.
The Region of Piemonte purchased the Rifugio a few years back and refurbished it before entrusting it into these very capable hands. It was a hotel way back when but closed down in 2002. Massimo and family took over 2 years ago and have been going full speed ahead to bring it back from the missing. I've been in a number of mountain Rifugios over the years and this one did have a freshness and cleanliness that was as refreshing as the mountain air. Certainly not luxurious accommodations, but clean and charming with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. Their simple menu offered local specialties with some very nice touches often lacking in most Rifugios. The selection of wines and local beer was impressive and quite a welcome sight when you arrive indoors after a long drive or trek in. The bergeria next door is not to be missed either and of course, we took home some berge and seirass cheese along with some butter, the likes of, you don't find in the store. It was another restored series of old buildings that were charming and extremely clean. The young boy that waited on us was so friendly and accommodating to have a few samples of the goods before making our selections. We're still enjoying them along with our guests.
I have some friends that are interested in doing some trekking from hut to hut here in the Alps and I feel like I now have some good suggestions for an itinerary or two. Of course, I think a perfect ending to a perfect high mountain trek would be a few days relaxing with us here at Bella Baita, and perhaps a few "Cooking Together" courses to finish off the trip, or maybe even a acclimatization stay before heading up. Either way, I think it it would be a great way to get out and about in the Italian Alps.


Rowena said...

Tanti auguri birthday girl! It sounded like a wonderful day, the kind that you wish would last forever given the odd weather behavior that we've been experiencing. Did they say rain again on Thursday?

We miss hiking (Maddie included), but what with so many things to take care of on the weekends it seems that walks in the mountains are out of the question until next month. We are crossing our fingers that we'll get at least a couple of days that aren't scorchingly hot!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Happy B-Day to you! My birthday wish would be to look out at that gorgeous view from your balcony! What a wonderful place to live!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Happy belated birthday. Mine was also on the 15th. Cancerians rock!!!! I have had a few days off of work so have been enjoying it to the max visiting wineries and beaching it!!!

James Higham said...

I'm at the African end of the country, in the heat of summer but I can dream.

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday! A far cry from our birthday lunches in the Rocky Mountains, huh? Linda sent me back a reply from the belated birthday email I sent her, and let me know about your blog - thank you for sharing this beautiful day with me on your blog, and I shall think of you on my day, and our lunches. Kim

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