Our destination this time was the Parnaud Alm. A walk through larch forests, surrounded by the Schnalstal glacier.
While the sun was shining in Vilpian, in Karthaus the mountain tops were covered with clouds. The concierge asked a local for directions, who also let him know that the cloudy weather was not ideal for the Pernaud Alm.
Fully motivated, the concierge his entourage began the 2:30h hike. But as soon as the first raindrops started to fall the motivation was gone. Stop. It is time to turn around.
In these mountains, but much further up, the Similaun Man was found, the mummy from the ice, also known as Ötzi. While it takes worse weather to end up as Ötzi, rain in the mountains isn’t to be taken lightly. It was high time for a change in plans. With lunchtime approaching the concierge decided to dine in a local restaurant.
Smoked char, roasted suckling pig with potato salad, tagliatelle with chanterelles, and of course, a good glass of wine.
With a full stomach the concierge visited the former Carthusian monastery of Monte degli angeli, where “strength lies in silence”. Enjoying the peaceful, absolute silence, the concierge found it difficult to return to Vilpian, where his telephone vibrates, and the reception bell rings.
The silence is very relaxing. Almost like a vacation.
The concierge considers himself a very lucky person, living, where other people come for holiday.
After the Concierge recently received fresh strawberries from the Willelehof, he promised farmer Paul that he would pay a visit to his farm. Not only out of curiosity and to assure himself that Paul’s cultivation was top of the line, but also as an excuse to get out of the office.
The concierge had already seen all kinds of farms, some with broken tractors in the front, scrap metal and machine parts scattered everywhere, with unsold apples being stored out front and a couple crates of pears rotting in between.
But once he arrived in Glanning, in Jenesien, at first the concierge was convinced he was at the wrong address. There should be a farm here, right? Instead, the concierge finds himself standing in front of a villa that could be straight out of Hollywood, with freshly mowed lawn and every pebble on the road precisely where it belongs. But a raspberry plantation right next to the villa confirms that this is indeed the Willelehof.
The plantation is in perfect condition and Pauls strawberries follow suit. He grows to types of strawberries, one in raised beds and one on the ground.
On the well-kept lawn stands Paul’s son, who is taking care of the tractor. Scrap metal and broken parts nowhere to be found.
Paul goes into detail about the strawberry market. His farm isn’t the only thing that impresses us, the taste of his strawberries does as well.
Out of nowhere we notice something strange! As we look across the strawberry fields we discover a hemp plantation in the middle of his fields!
Paul! Not for smoking, is it?
Paul assures us that his hemp is not suitable for smoking. This hemp is grown when changing fruit crops.
The Willelehof is in impeccable condition. After the visit we enjoy the landscape of Jenesien on a walk to the Jöchl-Almhütte, from where we continue to the Möltner-Kas, where we enjoy a light lunch.
Cabbage salad with roasted Speck and typical Vinschgerle bread.
Are we sure our appetite didn’t come from Paul’s hemp?
Tuesday is the perfect day to look for new and exciting excursions and hikes that the concierge can then recommend to his esteemed guests. This time he dives into the mountains of Merano, which we can see simply by looking out the window, but rarely have the time to actually visit.
Starting form St. Walburg in the Ulten valley we are accompanied by mountain guide and expert in botany, “Aunt Resi”.
We hike towards Malghetto di cloz at 1894 meters above sea level. Before us towers Monte Luco. Usually we only get to see this mountain from the other side.
We are on the Proveis nature trail and admire the mountain pastures. Here in South Tyrol most pastures are high mountain pastures, which means they lie high beyond the treeline and therefore most of the soil is very acidic. On such soil the vegetation isn’t very varied. However, mostly young cattle graze on alpine pastures which are less demanding then adults.
We continue our hike through the mountains and enjoy the beautiful views. But from time to time we ask ourselves if there could be a bear nearby, this is after all the area of the Life-ursus project, where the Brenta brown bear population lives and is protected after nearly dying out a few years back. The chances of meeting a bear however are very slim and the mountains are too beautiful to spend all hike unnecessarily worrying.
Once arriving at Malga cloz, the concierge enjoys lunch, huts like this are known for their cheese, alpine cheese as used in our Schlutzkrapfen. One table over, the ladies enjoy the guitar playing of the alpine dairyman.
One wonders what they are admiring more, the mountains, or the dairyman?
The concierge is of course only slightly jealous. Next time a group of ladies ask for advice on where to hike to, he’ll send them to the dairyman and his alpine pasture.
Time for a road trip. The Concierge loads a big quantity of wine from the Cantina Terlano into his truck, to deliver to the wine cellar of a good colleague. Then he continues towards Treviso, more precisely towards Roncade, on his own initiative, to visit the Bekeke winery, whose wines were created by Simone Maculan, agronomist, and oenologist.
The journey continues, with the aim of loading a pallet of Prosecco in Valdobbiadene and then continuing towards Belluno to buy new glasses.
After Belluno a short detour to the Dolomites, which are particularly beautiful in this early summer sunshine, and then back to the Sparerhof.
A detour that is strenuous but rewarding!
At least that was the plan...
From Terlan we take the A22 motorway in the direction of Modena; in Verona we leave the motorway and follow the road until the Oppeano exit. This is what the navigator indicates after all, and then... JUNCTION! abrupt braking, clutch and... Hello? The clutch won't work.
HI-VIS vest pulled out of the car drawer, safety triangle on the road and the next car-workshop called. With all these fine wines in the car... Fortunately, the depot where we wanted to bring the wines is only a few kilometres away. One phone call and one reloading later, the car is still in the same place, but at least without load.
At lunchtime, the car is at the mechanic and the concierge is busy with phone calls to postpone or cancel appointments, a trip to the Dolomites? Impossible.
Lunch consists of a porchetta sandwich and a glass of Soave in the green of the Veronese hinterland.
The emergency plan was to stay overnight in Verona and continue the planned tour the next day after the car was repaired. However, as shops, restaurants and maybe even hotels might be closed during the Corona pandemic, it was best to return that day by regional train. Verona - Bolzano.
Two days later: return to Verona. This time with the Freccia Argento, the Italian version of the Shinkansen, the Japanese super-fast train. In the meantime, the car was repaired in the workshop. As good as new.
The concierge returns to the wine depot, hundreds of pallets of wine are stored here ready for dispatch.
In a corner, a treasure chest:
Many bottles, individually and carefully packed. One label in particular strikes the Concierges eye: Château d'Yquem, 1944. The bottle is in mint condition. It has been carefully stored under optimal conditions, temperature and humidity constantly controlled, for many years. Price at the appraiser? About 10.000€
I wonder who they're selling it to. A rich American? A Russian oligarch? Or maybe a scratch-off winner?
Hah! On closer inspection of the Sauterne bottle, the fill level seemes to be slightly lower than it should be. That wouldn’t fly with a new one.
I wonder who'd want to drink it now. Maybe we'll find out.