Conquering the Alps on Snowshoes

snowshoeing-01 Well the Alps were walked upon in snowshoes, if not exactly conquered, during a two-day Easter holiday in the Parco Naturale Orsiera Rocciavré, a beautiful natural park in the mountains which you may remember from my hike there last November, sans snow, which I posted about here.

The weather on Easter Sunday was white. That’s the best way to describe it, as you can see from the first photos I posted below. It took over three hours to hike up to the Selleries mountain refuge on snowshoes, and it was a surreal experience walking through the snow, while it snowed lightly, and being surrounded by white fog on all sides. It was like being in a Daffy Duck cartoon when Bugs Bunny, the mischievous animator, erases the background from the frame.

We stayed the night in the refuge after eating a delicious traditional dinner there in a cozy room warmed by a wood burning stove. They even prepared an entire vegan menu for me and another woman who was also a vegan. Everything was so tasty, the only problem was that there was so much of it and I couldn’t even finish my second course even though I really wanted to. Really, just the antipasto, or the primo, or the secondo would have been a meal for me.

Easter Monday is also a holiday in Italy and the weather had decidedly changed. There wasn’t a cloud in the dark blue sky in the morning, and we headed up to reach a mountain lake for another day of snowshoeing. Unfortunately we didn’t reach the lake (not one of the other few people who set out for the lake that morning reached it either, because the route got too difficult to cross farther back). Still, it was intense physical exercise to climb the mountain on snowshoes, and it was calming to be surrounded by nothing but fresh air and fantastic views.

The little vacation was relaxing and peaceful, and I enjoyed being one of the very few people up there on the first day, with the only things on the agenda being to climb and then rest.

Here are some photos of the landscape. The clouds that blew in later on the second day were a very dramatic touch. I saved a couple of my favorite shots to post later.

snowshoeing-02  snowshoeing-03  snowshoeing-04  snowshoeing-05


snowshoeing-07  snowshoeing-08  Polenta stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes

snowshoeing-09  snowshoeing-10

For the non vegans

snowshoeing-11 My primo… I do eat a lot of pasta al pomodoro if people don’t know what kind of pasta dish to make a vegan. But it was very tasty.

snowshoeing-12 The non-vegan primo

snowshoeing-13 This was out of this world… on the left is mushrooms in some kind of tomato sauce and on the right there is a cabbage dish. Everything was exquisite.

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snowshoeing-31  snowshoeing-32  snowshoeing-33  snowshoeing-34  snowshoeing-35

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Blogging Again

IMG_5272Hello everyone, while you may have feared that SimplyItaliana had given up the ghost, I assure you it was just sleeping while I solved some frustrating technical problems that kept me from blogging and at the same time went through a very demanding few months.

I missed this space and I’m very happy to be back.

This post is just a little note to say I’m still here. Please enjoy these photos of my snowshoeing trip in the Alps on Easter Sunday and Monday. There will be more later! Easter was cloudy and foggy and snowy and then Easter Monday was a beautiful clear sunny day, as you can see in the photos. The sky really was that blue.

See you real soon!

IMG_5278  IMG_5243-3

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The Art of Going Into the Forest… In Lights

story-01Every November in Torino, light installations are displayed in various locations downtown, and they stay up for the Christmas season. They are created by artists and vary from blue rings of light around a church at the top of a hill to birds, textured white balls, colorful mosaics of light, and representations of the solar system floating in the night sky above the busy city streets. The installations, called Luci d’Artista (Artists’ Lights), which seek to display publicly accessible modern art, have been illuminating the streets and piazzas of Torino for seventeen years, and they are moved around the city to different locations each year.

I went downtown to run an errand and in that street, I saw this fable written in the sky. From where I stood under the first line, I could see the words stretching colorfully as far as the eye could see, getting smaller and smaller as they disappeared into the distance.

I never saw these lights before, and even though I had more errands to run, I took the time to take a pleasant walk down the street and read the story line by line. The people around me were rushing about but I felt calm as I stopped the middle of the street under each phrase (it was a pedestrian-only street) and read.

The fable is called Lui e l’arte di andare nel bosco (The Man and the Art of Going into the Forest) by Guido Quarzo. This year it is set up in Via Carlo Alberto.

Here it is. I translated each line under the photos so you can follow along if you don’t speak Italian. Please forgive any errors.

story-01The city was full of noise

story-02it was getting harder and harder

story-03to speak and to listen

story-04and then there was the silent forest

story-05but in the silence of the forest

story-06people got lost

story-07Those who couldn’t stand the noise

story-08of the city went into the forest

story-09and the silence carried them away

story-10And so there was a rumor that

story-11there was an ogre in the forest

story-12Soldiers were sent

story-13and they disappeared too

story-14When he, the crazy one, arrived in the city

story-15he found noise and long faces

story-16someone told him the story

story-17of those who disappeared in the silence

story-18and he felt a great desire

story-19to take a walk in the forest

story-20But he understood that it was necessary to study

story-21the language of the wind, of the rain

story-22of the stones, the wood, and the earth

story-23And after much studying he invented

story-24a strange stick that made

story-25a soft sound with each step

story-26 [noise words]

story-27And so the forest wasn’t

story-28so silent anymore

story-29Then the shapes of the trees and

story-30of the earth tried to trick him

story-31but he, with his pocket-knife,

story-32carved the wood and gathered stones

story-33and fastened branches and made

story-34whales ogres lady elephants

story-35The illusions of the silent forest

story-36became things one could touch

story-37and all of those who were lost

story-38began to crop up

story-39like mushrooms

story-40From that day on, all of the children

story-41wanted his noise-making sticks

story-42so they would not get lost

story-43in silence and in noise

story-44and when they asked him

story-45what name to give to his sticks

story-46he said: call them rattles*

story-47and so it was

*I’m sure this sounds better in Italian. A sonaglio is a metal object filled with small pieces that produces noise when you shake it. It can refer to a child’s rattle, the tip of a rattlesnake’s tail, or a rattling object in general. It can also mean a little bell.
Posted in Signs, Torino | 8 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving… a Day for Giving Thanks

To those of you who celebrate it, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. To those who don’t, today is a good a day as any to think about everything you are grateful for in your life. Send out a little thank you especially for the people in your lives.

If you have children or nieces or nephews, give them an extra squeeze today and tell them that they make the world a more special place. I wish I could do the same with my beautiful nieces. Give thanks for your sisters and brothers and friends and thank them for their love and laughs throughout the years. Tell your parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and great-grandparents how glad you are that they are around and how you appreciate what they pass down to you. I’ll be missing both my grandfathers this year, one who passed away a few days ago and the other over a year ago. But I was fortunate to have all four of my grandparents for many years.

If you are lucky enough to live close to your loved ones and see them often, think about their special qualities and the gift it is to spend time together. Abundance has nothing to do with our bank accounts or our houses full of stuff. Let’s give thanks this year for the abundance we feel with the people we love.

I am celebrating a little this year with two dear people and with one of my favorite things… food! Of course, food is the other main focus of this holiday, so that’s not surprising. Stay tuned for photos and Happy Tofurkey Day.

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Buoni Regalo per Natale – Christmas Gift Certificates

1IT: Cercate un regalo speciale ed originale da mettere sotto l’albero quest’anno? Donate un buono per un servizio fotografico ed i ricordi dei vostri cari dureranno per sempre!

EN: Are you looking for a special and original gift to put under the tree this Christmas? Give the gift of a photo shoot and your loved ones’ memories will last for a lifetime.

*Effettuo servizi a Torino e nelle zone limitrofe. / I offer photo shoot in Torino and surrounding areas.

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Posted in Baby Photography, Battesimi - Baptism Photography, Dolce Attesa - Maternity Photography, Photography, Prematrimoniale - Engagement Photography | Leave a comment

Baby Photography: Alessandro

IT: Ecco alcune foto di Alessandro, un bimbo carino e attivo di sedici mesi, scattate al Parco Valentino a Torino. Gli piaceva giocare con mamma e papà e il suo sorriso illuminava la giornata coperta.

EN: Here are a few photos of Alessandro, a cute and active sixteen-month old baby, taken in the Valentino Park in Torino. He had fun playing with Mom and Dad, and his smile brightened up the cloudy day.

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A Walk in the Mountains – Good for the Body and Soul

01 Yesterday I went hiking in the southern part of the Orsiera-Rocciavrè park which stretches over a vast area of the Alps in Piemonte. It was a beautiful hike with spectacular scenery at every turn. We covered about twenty kilometers on foot (about twelve and a half miles), most of which was steep and some of which was very steep. It was a great workout. Some of the ascents and descents had to be scrambled up/down using feet and hands.

We were out there for about nine hours, and the gps thingy said we were in motion for 5 hours and 13 minutes and still for about 3 hours and 50 minutes! So obviously we also spent a good amount of time taking pictures, admiring the scenery, eating lunch and even having a little nap in the warm sunlight at the top. The highest altitude we reached was 2381 meters (7,812 feet), but it was warm and sunny until we started descending and it started getting late and chilly.

The air was crisp and clean and breathing it, along with the physical exercise, reinvigorated me and made me feel better than I have in a while. Moving my body and observing the beautiful surroundings lifted my spirits and relaxed me.

When we were heading back down the mountain, the sun started to set and I watched an extraordinarily beautiful sunset. At this point the birds came out and I saw groups of large black birds soaring through the sky and little brown birds flitting from tree to tree.

Right at the beginning of the sunset, my point and shoot camera’s battery died and I couldn’t take any more photos. Believe me, there was a lot to photograph and the colors were extraordinary, but I didn’t care. I just watched it with my eyes and heart, and that was nice.

Here are some photos of the day:

02 The very beginning, amidst the pines

03  04  05  06  07  08  09  10  11 Abandoned stone houses

12  13The white square building is the mountain refuge/lodge, called the Rifugio Selleries, at 2023 meters (6,637 feet). People can eat and sleep there. There was a fountain outside with very cold refreshing mountain water.

IMG_3636  14  15  16 The highest peak in the distance, which is visible in several photos in this post, is called Monviso.

IMG_3710Here’s a more close up view.

17 We climbed up to Lago del Laus, a mountain lake formed by glacial action. It had a little island in the middle.

18  19  20 This was the “trail” we had to follow (climb) at the steepest part of the ascent.

21  22 This was the trail we had to climb down on the way back to the refuge.

23 Lago del Laus was an arresting sight from above. I took this photo after climbing to another lake, Lago La Manica.

IMG_3690Lago La Manica

24 After that rocky descent, though, the trail got easier on the way back.

25 Another view of Lago del Laus

26 I took this picture because that pile of stones looked like a person meditating on the top of the mountain.

27  28  29  30  31  32The sunset begins.

_MG_8980-2  _MG_8998-3If you look closely, you can see one of those black birds on the top of a tree.

Posted in Outdoors, Photography, Slowing Down | 5 Comments

Tasty Halloween Spirit

IMG_3433-2Yikes, look at these cakes. This bakery has definitely gotten into the spirit of Halloween, which is starting to get more popular here in Italy. I think the funny thing is how the signs just say “Chocolate and Chantilly cake” and “Hazelnut cake”, without any mention of, say, “Giant Bloodshot Eyeball”, “Bloody Brain”, and “Freaky Undead Fingers Emerging from the Grave”. How appetizing.

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Italian Seasonal Cooking, Roasted Beets, and Red Beet Pie

beets-1Red Beet Pie

It’s fall! The weather has been really nice here in Torino. Sometimes I dread the arrival of fall because I like the summer so much, but I am enjoying the beginning of the season this year. We’ve had some chilly rainy days, but we are also enjoying many warm sunny days and generally pleasant weather.

I’ve been feeling a strong urge to cook traditional Italian seasonal dishes this fall. I’ll tell you something about myself: I like to cook but even though I live in Italy I don’t always cook Italian food. Many of my staple dishes are international ones like Pad Thai, spicy Moroccan fava beans, and squash curry. I also like to make American vegan dishes like black bean burgers, and when I don’t feel like cooking I’ll eat french fries and salad or frozen minestrone soup.

That said, I love going to the market and buying what’s local and in season and what looks interesting. Torino has a famous and very large outdoor market called Porta Palazzo and when I go there, I want to buy everything I see. There is a section in one corner of the market where the local Piemontese farmers sell their produce, and that is my favorite part. The prices are slightly higher than the regular part of the market, but I like to buy from the local farmers and the selection is vast and changes with the season.

IMG_3278A random shot from the Piemontese farmers’ section at Porta Palazzo. The cavolo nero you see is dinosaur kale which is in season now.

So, with the fall weather, the scrumptious local ingredients available, and my desire to cook seasonal foods, I have decided to get to work making some classic Italian dishes. I started today.

Around this time of year you can find roasted beets and onions in the markets. I didn’t know what they were at first and I must say they aren’t that attractive, so I stayed away from them initially. Curiosity eventually got the best of me and I brought some home.

The first time I bought them, I peeled the beets with a knife and made beet salad, which is made with the beets cut into strips, olive oil, salt, and oregano. It was pretty good.

beets-2Roasted Beets and Onions
beets-4What they look like peeled
beets-5Beet Salad with olive oil, salt, and oregano

The beets have a subtle roasted flavor which is very good, and I prefer it over the taste of canned or vacuum packed beets.

I didn’t really know what to do with the onions. I baked them with oil, salt, breadcrumbs, and capers, but they weren’t fantastic since they are already cooked and take on a unique flavor from their original roasting. If anyone knows how these onions are usually prepared, I’d love to hear about it!

A couple days ago, I bought some more roasted beets and onions. I just so happened to have all of the ingredients at home that are used to make a Northern Italian mountain recipe, Red Beet Pie, so I went for it.

I love recipes like this, local fare made with just a few simple ingredients. There’s nothing fancy about potatoes and beets, but the end result gives surprising satisfaction. It’s also a vegan recipe in it’s original form, so I didn’t make any changes.

The pie was pretty easy to make. Boiling the potatoes took the most time. I used a store bought puff pastry pie crust (the soft rolled kind), but if you feel up to it you can make your own.

Here is the recipe (photos after recipe):

Red Beet Pie


1 medium sized cooked beet, preferably roasted
3 medium potatoes
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
1 puff pastry pie crust


1. Peel the beet if you’re using the roasted kind.
2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. Let cool and peel the skins off.
3. Finely chop the celery and garlic.
4. Mash the potatoes and beets together, then add the celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Taste the mixture to make sure you’ve added the right amount.
5. Prepare a round pie pan with oil and flour, or use the oven paper that comes with a store bought pie crust. Lay the crust down in the pan. Spread the beet mixture evenly over the crust, and fold down the edges all around the pie.
6. Bake at 350°F/180°C for twenty minutes.
7. Let cool and enjoy at room temperature.

beets-6Ingredients: a beet, potatoes, celery, and garlic, plus salt and pepper and pie crust
beets-8Mashed potato and beet mixture
beets-9Add the chopped celery and garlic.
beets-10Spread the mixture in the pie crust.



beets-14Mmmm this is really good. I can taste every ingredient that went into it. It has a subtle flavor enhanced by the celery, with the salt, pepper and garlic providing “oomph”. The potatoes give it a creamy consistency while the beet deepens the flavor and gives it an attractive rose color. Success! (Yes, I just tasted it after writing this whole post.)

Goodbye for now. I’m going to have another slice. Buon appetito!


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The Creeps

Months ago my boyfriend was joking around and said (in Italian), “Nothing you say makes sense.”

I rose up in my seat to contradict that and exclaimed, “Faccio sempre senso!

He froze, then burst out laughing.

Outcome not good. I figured I messed up somewhere and said something other than “I always make sense”, which is what I was going for.

He said fare senso means something like fare schifo (to be gross or disgusting) but with a slightly different meaning.

Well, I looked it up. I had proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that “I always give people the creeps!”

N.B.: We say ‘make sense’ and Italians say ‘have sense’, so ‘to make sense’ is avere senso (not fare senso).

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