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Trip Report Cormons Trip Report

In 2011 we spent 3 lovely days based in Cormons, as part of a longer trip (including Rome, Venice and Asolo). This is my trip report for the Cormons portion of the trip.

Day 1:
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 3 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 6 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, and 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 (the restaurant owner) 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 2 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 puncuated by stories from Nejka about an escaped wayward goat. Dinner started with an antipasti platter of procsiutto, pancetta, 2 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 th ehouse 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.

Day 2

Boy oh boy – today was a wonderful day of food and wine. It started with a lovely breakfast in the dining room of the main house, looking out over the neighboring fields where the deer were roaming. After breakfast we headed off to meet one of the premier cheesemakers in the area, the Zoff family. They run Azienda Agricola Zoff on the outskirts of Borgnano di Cormons (www.borgdaocjs.it). The family raise cattle, make and sell cheese out of their little on-premises shop and run an agriturismo. We met Giuseppe Zoff, who is the head of the operations and his daughter Patrizia, who did an excellent job of translating. We had a lovely tour, visiting where the cows were kept, the small room the cheese is made and the large walk-in cooler where the cheese is stored on wooden shelves. They were experimenting with a new product, making dulce de lecce, and Mr. Zoff explained the contraption that he put together to make it. It was not yet ready, so we vowed to return the next day to try it. Mr. Z then invited us inside for an espresso. After a nice visit we toured their shop where Patrizia was kind enough to give us some yogurt to have for breakfast! They sell a fantastic array of their products in the shop, including yogurt, butter, mozzarella, ricotta and their various hard cheeses. Thanking them for a wonderful visit, we headed off to our next stop, a local prosciutto maker.

D’Osvaldo is a famous local family that produces a variety pork products, including spek and an interesting smoked prosciutto. We were given a tour of some of the aging rooms and smokehouse by the son Andrea, who explained their process for making and smoking prosciutto. In the aging room there were hundreds of legs of prosciutto hanging, some with names signed one them. Andrea explained that, due to their limited production, people purchase a whole leg of prosciutto, sign their name on it, and then it is aged at D’Osvaldo. How fantastic would that be – if only I could smuggle the entire leg back to the states with me! Andrea’s sister Monica then joined us so Andrea could get back to work and she led us past a Pig Shrine and upstairs where we had a “merenda” (a snack). But this wasn’t just any snack, as Patrizia was there so it was a tasting of both cheese and pork products!! Of the D’Osvaldo products, we tried thinly sliced pancetta, guanciale and regular prosciutto, all of which were great and their smoked prosciutto and speck, which were phenominal. Laura gave us a selection of 5 cheeses to try, all of which were fantastic. All of this was accompanied by some local wine – quite a merende indeed!

After a snack like that, we really didn’t need much of a lunch, but we passed by Terre & Vini and decided to stop in for a glass of wine. Elda was there and poured us a glass of their Dolce and we shared a dessert.

We then drove to the La Viarte winery for a tour. Giulio greeted us and took us on a tour of the grounds and the wine-making facility (which had some beautifully carved barrels and artwork), explaining the history and the growth of the winery. We ended the tour in their tasting room, which was very cozy and contained a Fogolar, which is a traditional Friulian fireplace that was the center of most households. It was very large and near the center of the room, where everyone could gather around the fire on very tall chairs to keep warm and cook meals. We had a good tasting that included their Friulano and Schoppetino.

Back to our rooms for a little rest and after freshening up we drove into Cormons to have some wine at its famous enoteca. We were joined by Mr. Zoff, Laura, Monica and Monica’s boyfriend. Of course Mr. Z knew many of the people there, including several winemakers (the beauty of life in a small town) and ordered us a bottle from one of the winemakers, a Bianco made by Edi Keber. It was fantastic and one of the best and cheapest whites in Italy. We had a great time and it was lovely to see real Italians enjoying their every day life. Our stop at the enoteca was followed by dinner at probably the most famous restaurant in the region, La Subida. The restaurant was very quaint and our dinner superb. Standouts included tiny gnocchetti in a spinach sauce, venison with a wine reduction, and a panna cotta served in a little jam jar topped with preserves. I would love to return again some day, maybe just not on a day where I had consumed my weight in cheese and cured pork products! I was surprised to find that, due to some well-placed back roads, the restaurant was just 5 minutes from our hotel!

Day 3

After a wonderful breakfast that included the fantastic Zoff yogurt, we headed off to visit the town of Cividale for the morning. Cividale is about 30 minutes north of Cormons and is a lovely mideaval town with picturesque buildings that reflected more of an Austrian style and a river running through the center. One of the most picturesque villiges we have visited in Italy. We both commented that we could see ourselves living there. There were many narrow alleys and streets to explore by foot, along with signs explaining various sights such as a jewish ghetto. We visited a couple of different small museums, including the National Archaeology Museum and the Christin Museum of Cathedral. The Christian Museum had a wonderful alter and a baptistry. The alter and baptistry were todether in a small room and the alter was positioned to if you viewed it from a certain angle, colored lights would illuminate it at certain times depicting what the alter would have originally been painted. Very interesting and clever way to make art and history come to life. We stopped for an aperitivo in one of the piazzas, and watched the locals wander through the stalls that were set up along the periphery.

Lunch was up in the hills at Agriturismo Ronchi di Sant’Egidio. The surrounding scenerly was spectacular, with views over the valleys and the snow-capped peaks in the distance. The restaurant is in a building separate from the Agriturismo and was a popular spot with the locals for a leisurely lunch. After lunch we visited the Rosazzo Abbey. It is a beautiful compound located up in the hills, with gorgeous views ranging from Slovenia all the way to the Gulf of Trieste and across the various towns throughout the Friulian plains. The Abbey was established around 1100 and now includes a winery. We wandered the grounds and the porticoes, stopping in to view the abbey church and Hall of the Frescoes. Just oiutside the Hall of the Frescoes is a gorgeous balcony where there are some beautiful sculputre and amazing views. A very lovely and peaceful place!

Dinner that night was at Trattoria al Cacciatore Sirk, which is a sister restaurant to La Subida owned by the Sirk family and just down the road from La Subida. Prior to dinner, we met Mr. Sirk who took us on a walk up to his acetoria, where he makes vinegar. He passionately explained his process for making and aging vinegar and had us taste a few of his vinegars at various stages of the aging process. Graciously we accepted his gift of a bottle of vinegar and then made our way down the hil to the Trattoria. On our way back we passed several small cottages, which are available to rent. The trattoria was adorable, just what you would expect to find at the foot of the Alps. Along with some local Colio wine, we each had an amazing salad of prosciutto cotto, arugula, parmesean, ricotta salata, and fresh mushrooms. I would rent one of the cottages just so I could have this salad for dinner each night! A nice easy drive after dinner back to the hotel and we were in for the night.

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