Meditations on Italian and Spanish Cooking

Fresh Pasta at Hotel Montegrappa

One of the things that interests me most when I travel is the food. Just like the Roman aqueducts in Segovia or the Alhambra in Granada, the local flavors of a place display influences of past invaders, settlers, or traders. Spain has been colonized by Greeks and Romans (olives and olive oil) and Moors (rice and gazpacho); Italy’s pasta has Arabic origins. The first encounter a traveler has with a country is usually through food, often before the traveler even steps foot in the country!

Spanish and Italian Mediterranean food is very different from Latin American food. One of the biggest differences is that Spanish and Italian food is generally not spicy. My Catalan neighbor Cristina spent a year as an au pair in Massachusetts, and claims she almost starved to death. “The family’s cook was Mexican and the family told me that I would love her cooking, since I am Spanish, and the cook speaks Spanish. I couldn’t handle any of it—it was waaaay too spicy. I would go to my room and eat chocolate after dinner because I could never eat her dishes!”

Last night Cristina cooked me dinner. It was a salted cod dish from the Basque region. She put (I’m not kidding) a piece of mild cayenne pepper the size of a bit of glitter in the pot. “Ah!” she yelled after she tasted the dish. “I over-spiced it!”

Collecting Fresh Mushrooms in the DolomitesDespite the Italian and Spanish aversion to spicy foods, Mediterrean food is fresh and terrific… especially Italian food. If you join a bike tour with Velo Veneto, there is a good chance you will stay in the Hotel Montegrappa. The Bolzon family that runs this hotel are incredibly hospitable. Luca, the owner, is also the chef, and he takes great pride in his menu. The food is simple and incredibly tasty, and he makes his own pasta fresh daily. Food like this would easily cost twice as much in the US.

Summer Update

Pinarello Gran Fondo Start

We hope you’ve had good enough weather wherever you are to start piling on the miles/kilometers. Though we’ve heard from many of you about your plans, many of you are still making up your mind about your summer travel plans. Here’s a quick update to help you along.

So, as you can see, places are limited! Book now! And all that jazz.

If you have any questions, or need help making your arrangements, you know where to reach us!

Riding Through Vineyards with Craig Lewis

Friuli Road by FabioMiami on Flickr

Do you like riding your bike hard? Do you like wine? Would you like to spend a week with a Pro who’s an expert at both?

Craig LewisExcellent, step this way! For the first time in Velo Veneto history, we’re putting together a cycling camp that encompasses the region right next door, Friuli. And we’re doing it with Craig Lewis, Giro d’Italia stage winner, wine connoisseur, and founder of Stelvio Selections. Now that he’s hung up his wheels professionally, he’s focused on importing some of the best wines from his favorite racing regions. We’re luck to have him show us the roads, vineyards, and winemakers that have become his favorites over the years.

From September 21st to 29th, we’ll soak in the luxury at la Subida, a Friuli countryside inn where your “rooms” are personal cabins and the restaurant has a Michelin star. We’ll ride and walk through the vineyards and meet the winemakers that bottle the magic Craig imports (and some he hasn’t gotten his hands on yet). We’ll roll over the vineyard-covered hills and climb our way through the Julian Alps on quiet country roads with few cars and even fewer Strava KOMs. Then we’ll come back to our well-known stomping grounds in the Veneto, staying in historic Bassano del Grappa at the Giro d’Italia-honored Hotel Belvedere. We’ll be tasting Prosecco and Valpolicella and riding legendary Velo Veneto routes over the Montello, Asolo, and up the Monte Grappa. The capstone to the week is the Prosecco Gran Fondo, which you can race if you want, or take it easy and enjoy the only Gran Fondo with Prosecco at the rest stops!

If you like great rides. If you love wine. If you’ve ever wanted to spend a week riding like, and with, a pro every day. If you were looking for a new tweak on that great end-of-season event… This is the vacation for you!

Head on over to the Friuli and Veneto Camp page to get the full details and reserve your place now. There is no doubt this is one camp that WILL sell out. Grab your friends and come join us for the best camp ever!

Celebrating International Women’s Day

CRCA Women Cyclists climbing the Stelvio Pass

Mothers, sisters, wives, partners, friends, bosses, employees, and the list goes on. Women play a huge role in our lives, and on March 8, the world recognizes this with International Women’s Day. Within cycling, organizations like Le Tour Entier and the Women’s Cycling Association are working to improve opportunities and conditions for female cyclists. While there’s still a long way to go, much has been accomplished already.

Here at Velo Veneto, we are constantly pushing to increase the number of women who join us to ride in Italy. One way we would like to do that is by offering a discount. Beginning today, March 8, any woman who registers for a 2014 camp by March 15 will receive a 10% discount – more than $250 off for most guests! In addition, we’ll donate $100 to the Women’s Cycling Association for every woman registered this week. A little bit for you, and a little bit for everyone!

Some events you may be interested in:
May 25 – June 1: Giro d’Italia Camp (Final places available!)
July 5 – July 14: Family Week
July 13 – la Pinarello Cycling Marathon (Pinarello Gran Fondo)
July 20 – la Leggendaria Charly Gaul (Master’s World Championships Qualifying Event)

Gran Fondo Stelvio Camp Closed – Giro Camp Final Places!

Giro d'Italia Feature Image

Our silence on social media this weekend was, yes, partly due to the Olympics starting, but also due to it being a busy weekend! We didn’t just have our feet up.

To all those who were waiting to book for the Gran Fondo Stelvio Camp, we’re sorry but the camp is now closed. If you’re interested in joining us in the future, please head on over to the Gran Fondo Stelvio Camp page and add your name to our mailing list for 2015.

If you’re still making up your mind about our Giro d’Italia Camp – don’t delay! Final places in this camp are going to be booked quickly, so don’t get left on the outside. If you have any questions about this great camp, featuring our home climb of the Monte Grappa as a TT this year, please contact us or review the Giro d’Italia Camp page. Of course, if you’re ready to book, just head on over to reserve your place. Don’t let this great opportunity pass you by!