26 August 2010

Selleries Rifugio Outing

Just up the hill to Sellleries Rifugio
Recently, we were able to go out for a walk in the upper Chisone mountains. For me that is always a high water mark of the summer. I have spent a lot of time hiking in a variety of mountains over the years and find it invigorating and restorative, soothes my soul and mind. There is nothing quite like sweeping mountain vistas, wild alpine flowers, tumbling water, crisp air and a destination that offers a satisfying lunch that I don't have to prepare. Don't get me wrong, picnics are very enjoyable, but having hiked in the Colorado rockies and well actually, any of the mountains in the US, you need to make sure you have brought along plenty of fuel on your back in order to keep the body and mind going. Walking, or hiking as we Americans like to call it, and was promptly corrected when I worked for the British tour company that I would scare off my potential walking guests if I called it hiking, as it connotated serious mountaineering, with just water to a mountain rifugio is quite the treat. Oh, well then, walking it is. It didn't take me long to then be rebuked by my walking guests with, "I thought you said this was an easy walk". It is, it is an easy walk, it's just in the mountains, not on the flats or rolling hills. Mountains are mountains.  Enough about that and on with the spectacular walk from Villaretto/ Selleraut to Rifugio Selleries.
View of Val Chisone from Selleries Rifugio with their small chapel 
The day was gorgeous, not too hot  with a slight breeze, blue sky, great company and not a care in the world. The walk was pretty straight forward after we made our way up in the car around many narrow hairpin turns till we found a shaded parking spot and away we went.
Path from Selleraut to Selleries Rifugio
The path not only was well marked, it was well worn and I found myself wondering as I often do, what it must have been like back so many years ago to live in these hills and not venture too far from the old homestead, except for supplies and perhaps to sell or trade some of your cheese and such for other goods  that stored well and added some interest to an other wise simple meal. I'm thinking in particular about salted anchovies. I've always found it most peculiar how important they are to the Piemontese cuisine. It made a bit more sense to me when it was explained how they not only stored well and added a bit of zip to the soup, they also brought along precious salt at a lower than usual price due to the anchovies being packed in the salt and the bottom of the barrel seem to have more salt than anchovies and the salt tax was lower on anchovies than salt, which, in those days was quite dear. Learning that that the word salt or sale in Italian is the latin derivative of salary, which gives the old saying of worth your weight in salt, a whole new meaning. But I digress yet again, as I am wont to do....
Val Chisone
Anyway, we arrived on the top of our Alpi Cozie walk up to the Selleries Rifugio and stopped in to visit our friends the Agu cheese making family of Villar Perosa, in their summer time digs high above us all. what a gorgeous place to spend the summer. The cows have plenty of roaming range and wildflowers to munch on. I can attest to some delicious cheese is made up in these alps, and I was looking forward to it by the time we arrived.
Alpine Dairy building
Cow bell 2009 prize
We were rewarded for our effort with not only spectacular views and perfect weather, we ran into one of our friends who produces polenta who had ridden his bike up and joined us for some genuine mountain fare. You can always count on simply prepared and high quality food at Selleries, and we weren't disappointed. Smoked prosciutto crudo, pancetta, aged plaisentif and fresh ricotta, all made by the neighbors, Agu and certainlytook care of the hunger spot. The polenta with sausage helped Ben keep up his strength for the trip back down the hill. 

All in all a great day in the mountains. Good food, drink, friends in a wonderful setting in the Italian alps.
We hope you'll come visit and discover what this area has to offer.

It certainly doesn't lack in natural beauty, do you think?


Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm speechless, it's so beautiful Marla! I feel like singing,"The hills are alive with the sound of music!"

Rowena said...

I want to visit, I want to visit, I want to HIKE! I had to laugh at the part about distinguishing between the terms "walk" and "hike". Every so often I'll receive an email asking for suggestions for an easy hike around Como/Lecco. I ALWAYS reply with "well, it depends what you mean about easy, because easy for me might be entirely different for you." This always prompts an amused yet apologetic reply, because that is when they'll state the parameters, as I like to call them. Must be doable in half a day because we're training in from Milan, musn't be too steep, too far, must have gorgeous views! Nobody ever asks me much about rifugi, so I don't know if they are even aware of them or just figure that it's safer to pack their own lunch. I am going to mark Selleries for the future. You said cheese...how can I resist?

Bella Baita Marla said...

Sing on Marie, sing on, it does inspire me to do the same!
Rowena, I wondered if I would ever be able to entice you and the gang to come hiking! Now I know I just have to say cheese and food at the end of the trail....Love your questions from your readers, so typical. You gotta love it. It's all relative.

Bookmark and Share