My first day in Tangier, I arrived at the little gem riad in the heart of the Kasbah on the highest peak of the medina of Tangier, La Tangerina. Mustapha dropped me off for a brief break before I went out with my guide to explore the souks.
The charming Spanish owner, Farida, offered me the loveliest suite, up three flights of very narrow steps, the view and my private terrace left no doubt in my mind the trek was worth the panoramic views across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Someone quickly appeared with a snack of warm lentil soup, a fluffy cheese omelet with greens and a fruit salad of tangerines and pomegranate seeds; and of course, the heavenly warm bread that is served everywhere in Morocco and salty black olives, the quintessential lunch in Morocco!
This was one of the best Lentil Soups I’ve ever tasted. Farida used Red Lentils, I have French Green lentils, so this is my interpretation – I think her magic is the sweet paprika, cumin and a little ginger.
Oh, I also add a fat slice of Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham, chopped into fine pieces, Muslims don’t eat pork, but I like the smokiness it adds to the soup.
Total Time: 1 Hour
1 Thick slice of Applewood Ham, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14.5-oz can dice tomatoes I used 4 fresh tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth Vegetable broth or water (she used water)
1 cup French lentils (lentilles du Puy), or red lentils
1 teaspoon salt I brought home salt from Spain
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika – I don’t measure – so to taste.
I also brought Paprika home from Madrid
Heat Olive oil and add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, lentils, ham and spices.
Bring to a boil. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until the broth is slightly thickened, or to desired consistency.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the blended soup to the pot. She used a blender, but I found my immersion blender was fine.
Frida mentioned she adds fresh pumpkin in Autumn.
I’ve prepared this yummy hearty soup twice since my return from Morocco.
Simple ingredients, but )شكراً( !oh so delicious! Shukran Farida!
Discover one of the most beautiful mountain countryside’s on Earth. The Dolomites are known for incredible landscapes, breathtaking vistas, and amazing trails. Explore this vast alpine playground on foot with one of our expert local guides.
A bespoke Journey tailored to as many days as you are inclined to hike the Alps! Plan to visit some of the most incredible areas in the Dolomites – on foot. Whether you prefer short day hikes or a challenging multi-day trek, the Dolomite Mountains offer hiking trips for every interest and ability level. And enjoy the natural beauty of these incredible valleys and mountains.
In addition to the stunning surroundings, this itinerary includes plenty of time to explore the local culture and cuisine, allowing for an in-depth understanding of the area. Amazing scenery, lovely hotels, hidden mountain inns, fascinating history, and delectable cuisine – a marvelous combination of history, scenery and great hiking, for a truly unforgettable experience in the Dolomites.
This tailor-made program will take you to discover the area known as Ladinia, land of the ancient Ladin people, touching its two most important areas, the first extending over the Veneto Dolomites, whose heart is Cortina d’Ampezzo, and the second extending over the South Tyrol Dolomites. In a territory which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, you will discover the human heritage of the Ladin people.
Day 1 – Upon arrival in Cortina d’Ampezzo, check-in to Hotel Cristallo. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 2 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a half-day hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Cortina. All the itineraries are easy-moderate hikes. Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.
Day 3 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a full-day tour around Cortina and its surroundings. Rightly known as the “Pearl of the Dolomites”, Cortina is beautifully embedded in the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting not only a marvelous mountain scene, immersed as it is among majestic peaks and boundless landscapes, but also a thousand-year-old history and tradition. From the latest fashion trends to antiques and fine jewelry, from floral furnishings to the world of textiles and design, Cortina is able to satisfy the most refined tastes in an incomparable mix of past and future.
After exploring the town, learn about its historical background and enjoy a leisurely lunch, head to some of the most famous landmarks of the area.
Your first stop will be the Andraz Castle, an ancient fortress standing on a rocky outcrop at the foot of Falzarego Pass, a strategic location once meant to keep control over all the existing access roads to the area. Today, after centuries of man’s neglect and the devastating effects of World War I, the fortress is open to the public and has become a museum, conceived to promote the knowledge of this formidable monument and the surrounding dolomitic area as an expression of the local cultural heritage linked to the Ladin area of the Alto Agordino.
Next up, head to Pieve di Cadore. Perched on a hill at 878 m, Pieve di Cadore is the natural gateway to the heart of the Belluno Dolomites and mostly known for being the birthplace of the famous 15th-century painter Tiziano Vecellio (Titian). His house, where he spent most of his childhood and part of his adult life, has turned today into a museum, where you will discover rustic wooden furnishings, works and personal objects once belonging to the artist, and a kitchen with the traditional hearth. At the end of the visit, return to Cortina and have dinner at leisure.
Day 4 – In the morning, head to the starting point for your 40-minute exclusive helicopter tour, a truly one-of-a-kind experience to admire the breathtaking landscape of both the Veneto and Alto Adige Dolomites. After the experience, enjoy lunch at leisure. In the afternoon, choose one of the proposed hiking paths.
Day 5 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a full-day tour in the area of Auronzo di Cadore. Like many other towns in the province of Belluno, Auronzo was once under the rule of the Republic of Venice, which exploited the lush forests of the area as a reserve of prized timber for its Arsenal. One of them, the so-called Somadida Forest or Forest of the St. Mark’s Trees, was fundamental above all the others for its very peculiar position, located at a spot of the valley protected by the mountains on each side. After several historical vicissitudes, in the 1870s the forest was incorporated into the State Heritage and declared inalienable. Today, visitors can still admire this true gem which houses a variety of animal species and some of the most beautiful flowers of the Dolomites, such as the rare Pianella della Madonna or Venus’ shoe, the largest species of mountain orchid.
Your next stop will be Lake Misurina, the largest natural lake of the Cadore Valley. A jewel set among the UNESCO Dolomites, Lake Misurina rises at 1756 m and is famous not only for its charm, but also for the therapeutic properties it offers thanks to its particularly healthy microclimate.
There are at least two different legends associated with Lake Misurina. The guide will share these great legends, which have a very strong bond with the origins of the Dolomites. At the end of the tour, return to your hotel in Cortina and have dinner at leisure.
Day 6 – This day will be dedicated to discovering the Ladin human heritage in the Dolomite area, visiting the areas of Feltre and Belluno with your private guide. Your first stop will be Feltre, a jewel of Renaissance art, often referred to as the “small rupestrian Venice”. Situated on the very Southern edge of the Dolomites, Feltre stands on a steep hill that dominates its surroundings, which makes its turreted skyline an unmistakable – and almost magical – landmark from all directions. Its architectural integrity, partly due the fact that the town was completely rebuilt at the behest of the Republic of Venice in the 16th century (it had been destroyed by foreign troops), is clearly visible in the old town centre, featuring an elegant Renaissance outlook and countless frescoes covering the façades of most houses and palaces.While in Feltre, enjoy lunch at leisure.
In the afternoon, passing through the area of the Vajont creek (famous for a tragic disaster in 1963 during the construction of a dam), head to the Basilica Santuario dei Santi Vittore e Corona, a religious complex 3 kilometers away from Feltre. The complex is an authentic jewel of Romanesque style, and features clear signs of Armenian and oriental influences. In 2011 the skull of St. Victor was brought back from Prague, where it was kept, and worshiped in the sanctuary until 2012.
Next up, explore the town of Belluno, the very core of the vast mountain region of the Ladin Dolomite region. Along with classically-ordered and colonnaded features of the Renaissance period, Belluno’s architectural style blends in Alpine characteristics and a lofty setting, which make it an undoubtedly picturesque town. The Piazza del Duomo is flanked by beautiful buildings and impressive palaces that reflect the town’s grandiose history, and is punctuated with a fountain in the center. The Piazza del Mercato, once the site of the ancient Roman Forum, is more intimate and bustles with life. The elegant Palazzo dei Rettori was once home to Belluno’s rulers, while all around the town richly decorated churches, characteristic streets, and quaint cafes frame this little jewel of the Alps.
At the end of the tour, return to your hotel in Cortina and have dinner at leisure.
Day 7 – In the morning, meet your alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths in the area of Venetian Dolomites. Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.
Day 8 – After check-out, head to San Cassiano in Val Badia and check in to Hotel Ciasa Salares. In the afternoon, meet your private wine expert of the Wieser family in the cellars of the estate. He will be ready to guide you through the tantalizing world of the wine and share some of the secrets that make oenology so fascinating. You will have the chance to taste 6 different wine (3 red wines and 3 white wines) accompanied by delicious bites and a great selection of local cheese. The hotel is couched below the great Conturines and Lavarela peaks in the Dolomites, just over a mile (two kilometers) from the bijou mountain village of San Cassiano, with its picture-book Alpine church, log-cabins and wooden chalets. The hotel is just across the road from the ski lifts, which zip you up to the dizzying Dolomite ski network (745 miles/1,200km of interconnected pistes for all levels) or to godly hiking tracks.
Day 9 – In the morning, meet your private expert in the lobby and start your half-day exploration tour around Pralongià Plateau. It is a special natural highlight known as the “Amphitheatre of the Dolomites” for the stunning panoramic views it offers: it includes the Fanes Group with Mt. Piz Cunturines, the Puez Group with Mt. Sassongher and the mighty glacier of Mt. Marmolada. From the wide and easy paths of the highland you may ascend to the peak of Mt. Piz Sorega, the Col Alto and the Piz la Ila. At the end of the walk, back to the hotel. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 10 – After check-out, head to Ortisei in Val Gardena and check in at Hotel Adler. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 11 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Val Gardena. Not only are the Dolomites a fantastic sight, they are also an unparalleled activity-filled paradise. Hikers, mountaineers, skiers and other sports enthusiasts have everything they could possibly desire in the most beautiful mountains in the world.
Enjoy lunch at leisure. In the afternoon, follow your private guide on a tour of Bressanone (40 minutes by car from the hotel). Featuring a historic old town with beautiful arcades and winding lanes, Bressanone is the oldest town in Tyrol and a gathering place for guests with interests in culture. The many churches and chapels, the Cathedral and the Hofburg still bear witness to the historical significance of the city. The most important sacred building is obviously the cathedral, still the highest church in South Tyrol. An unmissable landmark in this area is the Abbey of Novacella, a splendid architectural complex with a labyrinth of structures, courtyards and walls showcasing Gothic, Baroque and Rococo elements from various epochs. Today the monastery is mainly known for producing some of the most highly regarded wines in Italy, featuring vast vineyards and a kaleidoscope of flowers and plants dotted among manicured greenery. Here you will enjoy a private guided tour and unique wine tasting experience immersed in nature.
At the end of the experience, back to the hotel in Ortisei. Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 12 – In the morning, meet your private alpine guide and go for a hike choosing one of the paths suggested in the area of Val Gardena. Rest of the day and all meals at leisure.
Day 13 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a half-day tour around Ortisei. Famous for its artistic wooden sculptures, which have been made here by generations of expert carver families, the artisans of Ortisei still continue to promote this art, producing furniture, toys and religious artefacts. Examples of this tradition may be seen at the Gherdëina Local Heritage Museum, whose collections include wood carving art of the last three centuries, old locally produced wooden toys, paintings by local artists, the local archaeology, the region’s fossils, minerals and the local flora and fauna (entrance tickets included). Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 14 – In the morning, meet your private guide for a half-day tour around Bolzano (1 hour by car from Val Gardena). Green landscapes and lovely mountains frame the urban area of Bolzano, whose space is closely interwoven with that of nature. The city is a lovely mixture of cultural displays, open-air markets, restaurants, and high-end shops, with a traffic-free central area and a variety of colorful medieval, gothic and Belle Époque buildings. Your tour will include a visit to the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to the so-called “Ötzi the Iceman” (a well-preserved natural mummy of a man from about 3300 BC and the world’s oldest natural human mummy), and a private tour to two of the most prestigious wineries in Alto Adige (including wine tasting). Rest of the day and meals at leisure.
Day 15 – In the morning, meet you guide and head to Chiusa. Located in the very heart of the Isarco Valley, Chiusa is characterized by vineyards and chestnut groves lying on the sunny slopes which, together with the cliffs, scattered farms, verdant pastures and the characteristic localities, create a truly unique image and make it a very popular destination in the area. Here you will enjoy an easy walk through the historical center.
After this first stop, you will reach Bruneck. Heart and soul of the Puster Valley, a picturesque town and a popular tourist destination, with its notoriety reaching far beyond the region’s borders. Overlooking the town is the wonderful Plan de Corones mountain, which provides a marvelous view over the valley and houses the modern Messner Mountain Museum. Take some time during your visit to explore the museum. After the tour, head back to your hotel in Ortisei and enjoy dinner at leisure.
In the morning, meet your private guide in the lobby and head to Merano. En route, you will stop at Cantine Sociali in Bolzano to enjoy a guided visit of the property followed by special wine tasting.
You will then continue to Merano. Immerse yourself in the Habsburg atmosphere of the town, walk past its arcades and colorful streets and discover the secrets it has to offer.
At the end, take the wine road straight to Ortisei, but first stop in another famous cellar to enjoy a visit and wine tasting.
Day 17 – Check-out at Hotel Adler.
“A traveler who has visited all the other mountain-regions of Europe, and remains ignorant of the scenery of the Dolomite Alps, has yet to make acquaintance with Nature in one of her loveliest and most fascinating aspects.”