In Part 2 of the "my camera broke so now I'm using photos from 2014" series, we're going to take a little wander around the pretty town of Fié allo Sciliar (or Völs am Schlern as it's known in German).
Fie was to be our home for the week we spent in the Dolomites. We drove across from Milan, watching the countryside slowly rise up into mountains around us. The buildings began to resemble Christmas-card chalets with brightly coloured flowers bursting from their windowsills.
On arrival, we dragged our suitcases into the hotel and went for a wander through the empty little town beneath the silhouette of the Sciliar, nestled amongst grey skies. We came across a little cafe where we had the cheapest and best apple strudel and prosecco (I know how to live..) and I quickly decided that life in the Dolomites was most certainly the life for me!
The next morning, we were blessed with beautiful sunshine.
The Prösels Castle is just outside of the town, giving the most marvellous views of Fié nestled amongst the alpine scenery.
It was constructed by Leonhard of Völs, the rather unsatisfactory governor of Tyrol during the 15th and 16th century. During his time as governor, poverty rates were incredibly high. As a result, infant mortality rates soared and in order to shift the blame from his shoulders, Leonhard blamed the "Schlernhexen" (witches of the Schlern/Sciliar, the distinctively shaped mountain that looms over Fié). Nine local women were tortured and then burnt at the stake after confessing to stealing the infants and flying with them to the mountain where they apparently ate them with the devil. The castle was also occupied by revolting peasants in the 16th century, who burnt all of the official documents to remove the evidence of their debts.
Today the castle (and the surrounding villages) are much more pleasant. The interior is bright and airy with windows framing the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Back in Fié itself, we went for a meal at Binderstube, an excellent little restaurant specialising in both local and general Italian cuisine (definitely worth booking ahead!).
We sat at a small table beneath a beautifully executed gallery wall and watched the restaurant slowly fill up with locals and visitors alike. A group of local men sat at the wooden bar, swirling glasses of red in their hands. Hearty smells of cheese and meat and herbs mingled with the fresh pine of the restaurant. The smell of pine will forever transport me back to the Dolomites after that meal.
I had the canederli - a traditional local dumpling dish. You can choose meat (speck) or spinach or cheese. I went for the latter two and found them swimming in butter and cheese - wonderful after a fresh day out and about in the countryside.
Speaking of which...
Aside from the food and the cheap prosecco and the fairytale chalets etc., my favourite thing about Fié was the incredible nature and scenery on its doorstep.
Walking trails led straight from the town up into the hills. With barely half an hours effort, we were treated to landscapes that could easily have been the heart of Canada.
At the laghetto di Fié, there's another little cafe to stop and enjoy the slow life at.
Not a bad place to enjoy another slice of strudel at with views like these...
After sitting by the lake, enjoying a glass or two of wine and watching a man swimming with his rather confused dog, we took to the water ourselves.
(There were actually other people around, I just managed to make it look like we had the place to ourselves!)
I lay back in the boat and let my personal oarsman take me around the lake. Watching the mountains drift by, listening to nothing but birdsong and the dip of oars in water, with the taste of strudel lingering in my mouth.
And all this just a short walk away from our hotel.
Fié I am 100% coming back for you.