Nikola Lenivets: fantastic day out!

Reading first articles of this blog is clear that we often talk about travel or short trips, usually in places not too common and possible to do with a tight budget. This is the first post about Russia, in a not common place, at least for Italians, but not too complicated to achieve: Nikola Lenivets.

Probably this name will not say anything to most of you, Nikola Lenivets was born as a place of inspiration for some Russian artists who later, with the help of the locals, began to create large monuments with natural elements. Today it is the largest landscaped park in Europe and home of the festival “Archstoyanie”.

I adored this trip! I am still saying thanks to Principessa, I like everything and the road trip, in a place so different from what I am used, was really thrilling!

Princess and I booked an overnight stay on the internet and planned to leave Moscow in the morning at 8 with a rented car, of course we started at noon and after half an hour we stopped for a hamburger … After that we proceeded quite fast and without further stops to arrive on site before nightfall for fear of not finding the place.

Waze navigator was as always a reliable travel companion, by entering the name of the park in Latin characters brought us exactly to the reception, where a friendly girl showed us how to get to our accommodation, where to park, eat, etc. We also bought a map for 100 rubles (about 1.30 €), just to be sure not to get lost.

After 4 km of gravel road, we reached our ‘Klever’ cottage, a small house of wood created by Mel Studio, complete with toilet, sleeping loft, heater, wood stove and a fantastic panoramic glass wall.

KleverHouse

Outside the thermometer marked about -20, but inside the house, the stove was already on, the wood was cut and ready and everything was very very comfortable and warm, we needed it … but here we had a little mishap, from a brief conversation we understood that neighbors were a group of boors, and absolutely not appropriate. We had confirmation when we called the front desk to report that sheets and towels were not present, and set it back we discovered that the neighbors took them (sheets, towels, blankets, slippers, everything that you could take short) because they booked for 6 people and came in 10. The staff was very helpful and solved the problem in minutes.

After being settled in, we went to dinner in a few minutes’ walk we reached the cafeteria, a small restaurant where two girls with oriental looking serve food cooked on a large wood burning stove. We ate a mushroom soup with Smetana (Sour Cream), chicken soup with noodles, plov (Uzbek dish made with rice, lamb and vegetables), pasta Bolognese and two cups of hot tea, after twenty minutes outdoors we needed. The soups were excellent, plov fantastic but of course the pasta was overcooked and the meat was very far from the sauce to which we are accustomed, but we ordered more out of curiosity, and, in its way, was good.

After dinner, we enjoyed the warmth of the wood stove in our loft, and apart from the screams of our neighbors around midnight, was a night too quiet. Actually I was a bit ‘surprised by all this tranquility; the reception has nonetheless called us in the morning apologizing for the inconvenience caused, even offering us to stay an extra night free of charge. We were told that the screams were due the neighbors fighting each other for missing beds, everyone went into the hospital for because they hurt each other, that’s why the shouts were over very soon.

Early in the morning we went to breakfast in the same canteen, coffee, croissants with butter and jam and blini (Russian version of crepes), and then we started our day of exploring. Due to the size of the place and the harsh climate, we moved into the car from a monument to another, Principessa was already familiar with the place, I enjoyed it a lot, and we meet one of the artists who live here and who create various woodcarvings of  animals.

Bogor  BirdsVSInsects

There were not only monuments of wood, but also churches, “stylish” bus stops, houses, and images typical of the Russian countryside. On the way back we stopped at least 20 times, struck by how many curious things you may encounter while traveling by car.

Monument      House

I see that already I’m linger, sorry for being so long, on the way back we saw a monument and a museum about the Second World War ( http://www.museum.ru/M620 ). While Principessa remained in the car to take a nap (by car turned on with hot air), I went to see the museum, I had no cash for the entrance fee (70 rubles, a little less than 1 euro) and they did not accept cards but a nice lady let me in for free. I walked around the small room with memorabilia of World War II and hailed to exit. The lady stopped me and showed me an album of photos in black and white, the lady spoke only a few words in English, but as I understood, shots were made by his grandfather, during the advance of the Germans to Moscow, stuck in that place by a river for several days. The shots were really rare, high quality, mainly depicting the destruction of the bridge, German tanks blocked in the mud and the construction of a new wooden bridge. I never expected such a surprise for such a small museum.

Complete album here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/137487255@N06/j285G0 

A glass of wine…. at Valtellina

I am making a pause in the series of posts about our trip from Bergamo to Istanbul to tell you about our Sunday at “Mobergno in Cantina” (http://morbegnoincantina.it/), promising that soon we will publish the third, and final, part of the post about Albania (part 1, part 2).

Probably many of you already know the event, but I think it is important to share some aspects. For about 3 weekends in September and October you can visit a number of wineries (true cellars, underground) between Morbegno and towns across the valley , called “costiera dei Cech”, and make a series of tastings of wines from Valtellina and typical products of the area.

Morbegno5

More or less two weeks in advance me and Principessa made a detailed plan, we saw it was impossible to book a hotel, all sold out of course, and so in order to avoid driving after drinking we chose to use the train Milan-Tirano with stop at the station of Morbegno; we called Hedi and Luana and planned to leave with the train of 10:20 AM (arriving at destination in less than two hours) and come back with the train of 9:20 PM. Obviously nothing went according the plan, but for people who have read our other post, this will not be a news.

So our friend Hedi slept in our apartment in Milan and Luana reached us by train from Bergamo in the morning, having to wait for the bed that the legendary Giampiero presented us for the guest room (for the happiness of Hedi who the night before suffered on the uncomfortable sofa bed in the living room) we decided to go with the train of 12:20, good choice because we reached Mobergno just right for the opening of the cellars.

The train ride is great, for those who have never traveled this railroad, recommend it, also just to take a relaxing trip, the part before Lecco retraces part of the towns mentioned by Manzoni (one of fathers of the Italian language, author of “I promessi sposi”). After Lecco you will be amazed, the train hurtling close to the lake, in a series of tunnels and breathtaking views, climbing up to Colico, and then in wide Valtellina.

Tickets can be bought in front of the train station, but we were wise to buy online the Red Trail, avoiding a long cue, we went to dedicated desk for online reservation and in a few minutes we got the glass with a special holder to put around the neck.

Morbegno1

Morbegno is a very nice town, especially during this season, where the colors of autumn, the smell of wood and the smoke from the chimneys give it a charm all its own. The history of Morbegno is virtually unknown until the early Middle Ages, and then characterized by a series of wars, massacres, occupations, between Milan, Swiss, French, Spanish, the Church and then the plague (the same Narrated by Manzoni in the same book), the Austrian rule, and in 1845 the annexation to Italy.

After a short walk to the center began our tour with the cellar number one, Nico Barbee, the one with the white and sparkling wines. I tell the truth, not as an expert, but as a man who appreciates the wine, nothing special, but great food, in all the wineries we enjoyed the excellent Bisciola, a sweet bread with dried fruit, fantastic Bitto cheese typical of the area and bresaola, salami popular in the valley. We also bought a Slinzega, kind of sausage, which is still in our refrigerator. If you are over there you have to eat: Pizzoccheri (buckwheat pasta with cheese, herbs, potatoes and other vegetables), Taragna (polenta with cheese typical), Sciatt (balls of wheat and local cheese fries) and Taroz.

Morbegno4

I really enjoyed this tour, after the Whites we started with the Reds: Valtellina Superiore, Sassella, Grumello, Valgella, Inferno, to finish with reserves and Sforzato. I personally love Valtellina and its wines, I believe that the mountain gives to the Nebbiolo grapes a distinctive taste and, even for those who are beginners with wine, the route will be interesting, the sommeliers from AIS (Italian Sommelier Association) are friendly and will explain you in easy way the characteristics of these wines and answer your questions, even the most naive, both in Italian and in English. If you’ve never tasted it is the right time to take a trip to the cellars, or if you prefer, go to the supermarket or wine shop or on the Internet and order a few bottles. If you will accompany the meat or a risotto with a full-bodied wine from Valtellina success is assured.

The day finished rapidly, due to a logistic problem me and Princess anticipated our return to Milan, without being able to visit all the wineries. Not bad anyway, at home we prepared a nice sauce for pasta with onion, tomato and parsley, later Luana and Hedi joined us, and we had a fantastic evening.

I will not bore you with tons of information, Valtellina is a fantastic place, the food is great, unspoiled nature, easy to reach, you can make a lot of activities, including hiking and skiing … What are you still doing at the computer, prepare the suitcase!

Reading Tips:

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtellina_superiore_Grumello

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtellina_superiore_Sassella

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtellina_superiore_Inferno

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtellina