Skiing the Dolomites

For the past month or so, the weather in Florence has been very mild.  We’re talking temps in the mid-to-high fifties.  Conditioned by our surroundings, we were skeptical of the snow conditions for our upcoming trip to the Dolomites.  Thankfully, we hit the jackpot.  We had clear skies and near freezing temperatures (great skiing weather!) the first two days, while the next few days we got some fresh snow.  Bobby and I spent the week skiing, snowshoeing, and eating some superb food from our base in Santa Cristina in the Val Gardena ski region of the Dolomites.  Once again, we found ourselves thanking the Olmsted Foundation for this absolutely amazing three years in Italy.

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Trentino – Alto Adige Christmas Markets

Christmas market under clear skies

Sometimes I find it hard to “get in the Christmas spirit” here in Italy.  Christmas isn’t overly commercialized like it is in the States, which is a good thing, but without the constant television ads, Christmas music in all the shops and on the radio, and pressure to buy everyone and their neighbor a gift, sometimes it’s hard to get in the spirit.  I know, it’s strange.  Also, in Firenze, the weather is really mild – in the 50s everyday so far this December – so when I remind myself that Christmas is only nine days away, I have a hard time comprehending the situation.  To prepare our warm-natured bodies for our upcoming holiday trip to Budapest, and to prepare ourselves mentally for Christmas, we decided to travel to Northern Italy last weekend to the Trentio-Alto Adige region for some Christmas market fun.  … [Read More]

Natale in Alto Adige


When we woke up Saturday morning, it was a chilly, but pretty dry morning in Firenze.  We jumped in the car rather early and headed north, in hopes of seeking out a(nother) Christmas market.  However, only 15 minutes north of Florence, the weather completely transformed.  There were at least 6 inches of snow on the ground and cars like us (i.e. without snow tires or chains) were driving cautiously.  It made for a slow travel day, but the scenery was absolutely gorgeous!  The Tuscan hillsides were covered in powder and it got me dreaming of ski trips in the future.  Our first stop of the day was in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Mantova, a beautiful city surrounded by lakes.  Next, we made our way to Trento, a town in the Alto Adige region famous for its Christmas market and skiing (we WILL be returning later this season to enjoy the white stuff!)… [Read More]

Buon Natale…..errr… Frohe Weihnachten?

Merano - it looks strangely like Innsbruck

This weekend, Bobby and I traveled with our other Olmsted friends Karin and Lou Frketic (from Bologna, Olmsted Class ’10) to Bolzano and Merano, two cities in northeastern Italy.  With their proximity to the Austrian border, both cities have split identities.  Are they Italian cities or German-speaking Austrian cities?  Well, it’s difficult to tell.  They are towns where more often than not, you will hear people chattering in German and saying “Frohe Weihnachten” (Merry Christmas) instead of Buon Natale (the Italian version.)  Menus are split in Italian and German languages.  Most restaurants serve both German and Italian fare and the waiters speak both languages.  … [Read More]