life on pine

October 2016

a very remote mountain getaway: hotel briol & val di funes

Kate ParrishComment

after our time in the eastern dolomites we moved west [to the more german/austrian region] and met up with two besties for a remote getaway at hotel briol near val di funes. we had read about this hotel in a few various write ups [like here and here] and were intrigued by the design & unique location tucked in the mountains. 

is actually way more remote that we realized. when you arrive, you park your car at the bottom of the mountain and are then taxi'ed up in a 4x4 mountain mobile by a true legend of a driver. this means you're likely not leaving the property during your visit which is definitely not a bad thing. the rooms are extremely cozy, nature surrounds you and there are a ton of hikes that leave right from the property. tyrolean breakfast & lunch are included with your stay, and dinner is served each night in the rustic-y dining area. if you plan on drinking multiple bottles of wine during your visit like us, i would recommend packing a few of your own to save $.
rooms start at about $69/night/person. 

our room was simple and chic with a beautiful view. that being said, we were a 10 minute up-hill walk away from the main dining area/common room of the hotel [where they had all the food & drinks]. but it actually made for a hilarious memory of trekking uphill together each day [and one night in the pouring rain]. if i were to do it again though i would make sure that i booked a room in the main house. if you're looking for a place to just getaway and be one with nature – this is truly the spot. no one will ever find you here. 

we stayed for 2 nights and spent our one full day hiking to unterhorn rifugio. the hike was absolutely stunning and a great workout, which of course made us happy to see schnitzel and beer [and grapa] when we finally arrived. italy's trails are very well marked, however we found a way to got lost on the way back to briol which made for a borderline scary, but funny experience. later we soaked warmed up in the sauna and drank entirely too much wine with dinner, and actually ended up sleeping 4 wide in a king bed together. here are a few favorite photos from our visit...


is a must see during your visit to the western dolomites, [about a 45 minute drive from bolzano]. we followed the map to the church of st. magdalena and had to climb into some private property to get the photo you see here, but i'm sure there are non illegal ways to get the same shot ;). 


adventure in italy: 4 hikes you need to do in the dolomites

Kate ParrishComment

closest town: pozzale di cadore
hiking time & distance: 6 – 7 hours [12 miles & 1,200 meters of elevation gain] round trip
along the way: stop @ forc. antracisa and then head on to andelao refugio – if you hit the season/timing right, you can have a beer and some pasta while enjoying the incredible views on their patio. leaving the refugio, hike up to the church [chiesetta di san dionisio] – from up here there are stunning 360 degree views over the mountains and valleys.
tips: there are plenty of water fill ups and picnic tables along the way

closest town: misurina  
hiking time & distance: 3.5 hours round trip, see trail guide
along the way: go east to start the loop, and make sure to look out for the tiny horses! during the season, you can also stop at one of the refugios for a snack or drink.
tips: it's 25 euro to get into the park where this hike is. you can park outside the gate and bus in for cheaper, or alternatively we hitchhiked with other hikers that were driving in to avoid paying the fee. 

closest town: cortina d'ampezzo
hiking time & distance: 4 hours round trip, about 8 miles total [trail guide
along the way: start at tre croci pass & take trail 215 the entire time, it's easy to follow. there is a little bit of traversing along a cliff, but there is sturdy metal wires keeping you away and it’s extremely safe. this hike is not for anyone who is afraid of heights! 
tips: bring lunch for your arrival at the lake! there are a ton of little nooks for private picnics, and it's a very peaceful place to relax after a long uphill hike. plus, the whole way home is easy. we brought 2 beers that we chilled in the ice cold lake.

HIKE #4: LAGO DI BRAIES: “pearl of the dolomites” 
hiking time & distance: trail guide (1.5 hour easy hike) leaves from the hotel
along the way: this lake is very beautiful and worth seeing – however, it is likely one of the most touristy things in the dolomites, expect to see a lot of other people here. we decided to skip the hike to make more time for lago di sorapiss – however if you're looking for a more casual stroll that is still beautiful – this is the perfect place. don't leave without popping your head into the vintage hotel pragser wildsee.

my hiking gear: top | long sleeve | shell | puffy [kids XL] | | leggings | pants | backpack | hiking boots | sports bra 
kyle's hiking gear: tshirt | shorts | jacket

more of what's in my pack can be found here


dolomites: why the italian alps should be your next mountain adventure

Kate ParrishComment

a few months ago the first country that came to mind me when thinking about "hiking in europe" would be switzerland, no questions. the dolomites, though, are an insanely epic and much less touristy part of the southern limestone alps located in northeastern italy [UNESCO site]. to be honest, until a friend mentioned this mountain range to us i had never even heard of it. the overall vibes are pretty much split from east to west, each with it's own unique culture and style. THE EAST [cortina d'ampezzo] is much more italian in terms of language, food and culture. THE WEST [bolzano] fully embraces the fact that they tightly hug the austrian border, with german being the primary language and schnitzel showing up more than pasta on menus. 

you will 100% need a car and at least 4-5 days, as the region itself is quite spread out and there is a lot to see. we drove in from florence which took about 4 hours and the drive is beautiful. venice is also very close [3 hours], or you can easily come in from the opposite direction, innsbruck austria, which is 1 hour by train. we visited in late september and the weather was a dream – sunny most of the days and chilly at night, and the [minimal] tourists from summer had died down. 

we stayed a total of 6 nights, 4 in the east and 2 in the west. starting in pozzale, we had the perfect airbnb tucked in the mountains that was our home base for a lot of great hikes. i could not have loved the host or the location of this apartment any more. we later moved west and met up with friends in south tyrol [more on that later]. some of our favorite things include: hiking to chisetta di san dionisio,  lake misurina, hiking tre cime [and seeing tiny horses], hiking to lago di sorapiss and seeing lago di braieshotel briol in south tyrol. 



umbria, italy: our camper van at perugia farmhouse

Kate ParrishComment

our italy plans were pretty un-planned other than wanting to get up into the mountains and of course get to florence/tuscany for the wedding i mentioned here. while in rome we randomly met 3 different italians that were born and raised in umbria, and they all pretty much said we "had to go". umbria is a region i hadn't really heard of, bordering tuscany and often referred to as the country's green heart. the region is known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine – and tends to be less touristy than tuscany. after doing a little research and seeing the perugia farmhouse , we thought this would be a fun and random next stop. 

after a 2.5 hour train from rome, a 20 minute bus ride and a 15 minute walk, we arrived. for a little more privacy we chose the roller caravan [which actually ended up being cheaper than two beds in the dorm room] and ended up loving it so much that we extended our stay by 2 nights. this place is tucked back in the middle of the countryside, so if you don't have a car [like us] it is tough to get around. we made the decision to just not leave the property and enjoy the pool, animals, local winery and food farm with craft beer, hiking trails, communal kitchen and cool people – everyone staying/working there was around our age and really fun. we all cooked dinner together one night which is what i love about the hostel vibes. 

umbria is broken into smaller cities, and we mainly stayed in perugia. if you're planning a visit, some other cities we didn't have time to explore but heard were cool are: assisi, spoleto, gubbio & todi. 


rome: quick tips to avoid touristy spots [from a local]

Kate ParrishComment

as i mentioned in this post, the blue hostel's owner, ercole, hooked us up with a ton of recommendations when we arrived and we could tell how legit they were after the first restaurant we stopped in. from there, we followed the map they provided for almost our entire visit [4 days] and could not have been happier when we left. see our full rome travel guide  here.

BREAKFAST / LUNCH: panella old school bakery that prepares all types of pastries, great coffee here from a machine that is almost art | osteria della suburra a local favorite, nothing special in terms of decor but food is delicious | core de roma decorated in history of the roma futbol team, delicious traditional Italian for a ‘local’s lunch’. |  zia rosetta organic juice, espressos and gourmet sliders.

DINNER: @ ada e mario low key family style trattoria that is affordable and delicious - nothing fancy but very good. | augusto: only a few tables and one of the best meals we had (be there right before 8pm) | roscioli very buzzy and popular spot, must get a reservation for dinner. the carbonara is out of this world. |  pizzeria dar poeta, must stop here to try their pizza

DRINKS: enoteca cul de sac: one of the best wine spots in town with thousands of bottles to choose from | akbar cocktail bar to grab a drink at and maybe hear some live music. 

EXPLORE: we loved the trastevere & monti neighborhoods and spent a lot of time wandering this area. specifically via urbana [street] where we loved king size vintageLOL moda arte design and mercato monti urban market roma. | eataly is a bit of a trek to get to but we couldn't have loved it more. an absolute must for wine and snacks, in my opinion. | sunset and a bottle of wine at gianicolo hill | for the touristy-historical things, we tried to arrive as early as possible to avoid crowds. the crowd-avoiding ended up not being possible, so we spent a lot more of our time just walking around the city and not stressing too much about seeing every single thing.