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Report 2013: Two Splendid Weeks in Northern Italy

By Engred from Oregon, Fall 2011

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Page 9 of 14: Off to Cormons

After breakfast, we packed up the van and were off to our next base, Cormons, which is a small town in the Friuli region. It was a pleasant three-hour drive, with good scenery and no major traffic issues. We arrived at Relais Russiz Superiore in the countryside outside of town (Via Russiz, 7, Capriva del Friuli). Russiz Superiore is a well-known winery, with a large production facility and a beautiful villa. Recently, the owners built a separate building that has six guest rooms. The rooms we stayed in were lovely and well appointed with gorgeous views over the surrounding land and the mountains in the distance. It was very comfortable and well located. I could have easily spent a week there, but we had three short days.

After checking in and unpacking, we drove into Cormons and stopped for lunch at Terre & Vini (Via XXIV Maggio, 34, Brazzano di Cormons). Turns out it is owned by Elda Felluga, of the Livia Felluga wine-making family, whom we met when we arrived. It is a charming restaurant that has an attached shop where you can buy Livia Felluga wine. There is no menu, the waitstaff just tells you what the options are that day. To me it is the epitome of a neighborhood osteria, located on the ground floor of a charming B&B. We were seated, got settled, and then Maryann went upstairs to take a conference call. While they were upstairs, Elda offered us a glass of wine and we discussed the osteria and their wine. Once Maryann and Jay joined us, we started with an antipasti platter of smoked prosciutto (which we would later learn is made by the D’Osvaldo family) and a selection of cheese (semi-hard rosemary, a local soft cheese and an asiago). Lunch was fantastic and included porcini risotto made with barley instead of rice, frittatina and tagliatelle with shrimp that had an interesting sweet sauce. We finished with apple strudel and ice cream – yum! With lunch we enjoyed a variety of Livio Felluga white wines, including Friulano, TerreAlte and Abbazia di Rosazzo.

After lunch, Elda invited us over to the winery for an impromptu tasting of their Picolit with two acquaintances visiting from out of town. The winery is a short two-minute drive down the road (Via Risorgimento, 1) and the tasting room is a new modern building with contemporary displays of their various wines and floor to ceiling windows in the back room with nice views over the grounds. Hanging on one wall was a large weaving of the Livia Felluga label, custom made by Missoni to commemorate the winery’s 50th anniversary. The label is a very interesting hand-drawn map of the Friuli wine growing region. After the tasting, we piled in the van and followed one of the gentlemen to a park at the top of a hill. The park had lovely views over the town and surrounding countryside – looking towards Venice on the one side and smashing views of the mountains on the other side. Interestingly, there were large maps posted in the park, marking various walking and biking trails departing from the park and located around the area. It is a part of a great marketing campaign promoting tourism and activities in the Colio region.

After a short rest back at our “hotel” (which is owned, coincidentally, by Elda’s cousin Roberto Felluga) where we saw a beautiful sunset reflected on the snow covered peaks in the distance. After nature’s light show, we made a short drive across the border to have dinner in Slovenia. Imagine that – dinner in another country and in Slovenia no less! We dined at the agriturismo Klinec (Medana 19, Dubrovo V Brdih), which also has a lovely restaurant with views over the hills towards Cormons. We were greeted by Nejka, who owns Kinec with her husband Uros Kinec. We were seated in one of the dining rooms, next to a couple from the US who were traveling through Slovenia. The meal was very good and punctuated by stories from Nejka about an escaped wayward goat. Dinner started with an antipasti platter of prosciutto, pancetta, two hard cheeses and a fresh goat ricotta that was fantastic. We also had thinly-sliced mushroom crudo topped with black salt that was fantastic. These were followed by dishes of funghi risotto, tagliarini with tartufo, and stewed zucca con crispy pancetta. Although we were getting full, Najka insisted that we have one of the house specialties, steak that has been grilled over grapevines. To accompany the steak, there were grilled peppers and traditional white polenta. We were very glad Najka insisted, because the steak was fantastic! As we were stuffed from dinner, we were glad it was a short ride back to our rooms for the night.

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