Tip of the Month

Each month we highlight a place of interest around the globe that we consider as unique as Borgo di Vagli. The tips are selected as they either show respect for the environment, nature, and architectural beauty or are deeply indigenous to their individual origin.

Fulvio and Lee and their wives, Aurora and Cecilia were in Oslo earlier in the month to present Borgo di Vagli at the famous Reiselivsmessen travel fair.

They flew to Oslo from Rome on Norwegian Airways and the flight couldn’t have been a more comfortable trip. They arrived the day before the three-day event to set up the stand. Exhibitions are always tiring but the interest and enthusiastic families who stopped by to learn more about the Fractional Ownership concept made it more than worthwhile. Actually, many Norwegians are familiar with the shared ownership idea, the most popular being annual rotating ownership of agricultural land or a mountain cabin.

Fulvio and Lee were especially fortunate that one of our owners and good friend, Morten Lie, volunteered his Saturday afternoon to help them on the stand.

Given that they were constantly on their feet during the opening hours of the exhibition they had very little time to visit other stands, but on the Saturday evening they were invited to our newest Norwegian owners Home for dinner… what a treat! Morten and Mia were wonderful hosts and great company, with a wicked sense of humour and the food was to die for: marvellous long thinly sliced smoked salmon with fresh spongy bread rolls, followed by mouth-watering reindeer filet in a light cream sauce, and the total surprise of the evening, a magnum of a magnificent Barolo, which was the last thing they could have imagined to enjoy in Norway!

The Norwegian owners, and now very good friends Morten and Marit, invited Fulvio, Aurora, Lee and Cecilia to join them in Harahorn. They checked-out of the hotel very early on Monday morning and caught the train that connects Oslo to Bergen aiming to stop half way to meet Morten in a little place called Gol. The train ride was a great tip: few minutes after leaving Oslo, you step into the scene from a fairytale, a beautiful winter country landscape that slowly unfolds before you.

As you climb up and through the mountains the landscape becomes narrower and whiter…

In Lee’s words:

After a memorable three hour train ride, we arrived at Gol train station where Morten had arranged to meet us. His smile and demeanour appeared slightly different from what he is like in Tuscany - almost bordering on the mischievous… as if to say, with a knowing, welcoming smile: “now you are in my country, I hope you are ready!”

Morten hadn’t given much away when he spoke about the mountain trip ahead on the previous Saturday, only that the area was called Hemsedal and we were to drive for an hour from Gol. The drive was breathtakingly spectacular – picture postcard white Norwegian mountains on either side. We became even more intrigued when we left the paved road along the valley floor and took a small side road completely covered with snow - in the middle of nowhere. Somewhat reminiscent Vagli’s road but with snow!

Where was he taking us? In the car, Morten had explained that he had booked accommodation at Harahorn and that Harahorn was a special and important place for him and Marit; but he left it so vague and undefined that we were all very intrigued…; As we drove up the snow covered road, I understood why he always made fun of people who spoke about the access road to Vagli.

After a good 10 minute drive past wooden houses on either side and in the distance, we drove round a sharp bend in the road and arrived at Harahorn, a cluster of wooden cabins/homes and a hotel/restaurant and modern church, once again it was like waking up in a fairytale. Pure white.

We jumped out of the car wanting to explore the area… WOW! minus 15°!! Welcome to the Norwegian mountains! It’s very difficult to describe the feelings and emotions when experiencing a unique place like that for the first time: but surprisingly enough, we all felt totally at ease… at Home if you will. We all later agreed that we had experienced the same emotion: that of entering a place of wonder and heritage. We found ourselves running our hands over and gazing at beautiful pieces of antique wooden furniture and all of us thought about how the families must have lived in years gone by.

The family scene was truly set when we were welcomed by Morten’s lovely daughter Tone and her husband, Stian and their gorgeous six month old baby Thea. They warmly invited us to join them next to the roaring fire. It was delightful to see Tone again as the last time we saw her and Stain was at Vagli in April, when she was pregnant with Thea.  

We enjoyed time in front of the fireplace just chatting and laughing as close friends do. We were happy to know that Morten and Marit were sharing their parallel Philosophy of Life with us, and being with them at Harahorn made it so much more pleasurable.
We walked around Harahorn and it was like being in a fairytale…  

Fulvio walked around and visited the various houses like a child in a toyshop; enjoying the architecture, Nordic colours and soft furnishings - there were so many similarities with Vagli, although in a completely diverse environment. But you can touch the same passion, the same attention to detail, the same sense of home, the same respect for the roots. Truly remarkable!  

In Fulvio’s words:

We sat down at a beautifully laid out table and enjoyed a lovingly prepared lunch, where you can tell the chef takes pride in his work…  

After lunch we went outside to enjoy the last hour or so of daylight and to watch Lee try cross-country skiing for the first time with Morten. He couldn’t have started in a more appropriate environment or in better company. And we were all surprised how well he did. After an hour they returned with healthy rosy cheeks and warmed themselves up in front of the fire.


All too soon, darkness fell and the rest of the day went by so smoothly and pleasantly but all too quickly: chatting, telling stories, making plans for the Spring and Summer and in particular finalising the arrangements for Morten’s expedition in May, when he will bring his trusted 1930 Ford model A Phaeton from Norway to Vagli.


Lee and I will join up and help navigate him through the most out of the way roads through Liguria and on to Tuscany; but this is another story that, I’m sure, you’ll read about in the Vagli Echo later in the year…

Before we knew it it was time for dinner, but first a glass or two of Champagne and then another remarkable meal beautifully composed by the chef, who eventually materialised together with the desert. A very young and talented chef who speaks fervently of his dishes as though they are pieces of art with the enthusiasm of a young boy… I couldn’t let him go without presenting him with some of Vagli’s olive oil… that’s how cultures interact with one another!

The following morning, we were all a little sad but after hugs and kisses and with wonderful memories Morten drove us back to Gol.

We enjoyed the four hour train journey to Bergen.  

We climbed for a couple of hours until we reached the highest train station Finsen, at 1.222m above sea level. The landscape is made of rocks and snow. No trees, as in Southern Norway the treeline ends at circ. 1.000m. Many kilometres of pure white, dotted, here and there, by some cabins completely covered with snow.

Morten told us that almost every year, before Easter, he goes cross-country skiing for 4 or 5 days with his friends from Finsen to Haukelisete, a sort of Norwegian camino de Campostela, which goes from one cabin to the next.

All of a sudden the valley narrows dramatically and the train runs slowly through a rocky gorge.

After that, the landscape becomes more gentle and immediately less dramatic/wintery; it appears clearly that the sea and the Gulf stream are not far away; kilometres of fjords and lakes and rivers, a complete mix of waters and soon we are approaching Bergen railway station; it’s the end of an unforgettable 7 hour journey through one of the purest and most untouched landscapes we have ever seen.  

And so we arrived in mild Bergen mid afternoon to stay with our dear friends, Harald and Else. Harald kindly picked us up at the train station and drove us to their beautiful family home overlooking the fjord, just 10 minuets from downtown Bergen. That evening, despite the bitter cold sea breeze, we linked arms and strolled around the city center enjoying the Nordic architecture and visited the ruins of St. Catherine Church and Hospital. We felt a bit like old scholar fellows meeting for the first time after graduation. We walked through and marvelled at the labyrinth of the old fisherman wharf, Bryggen, and stopped at Enhjørningen, one of Bergen’s top restaurants, where Harald had reserved a window table…. what a treat! He had thoughtfully pre-ordered cod tongue’s for us all - a favourite “delicacy” of mine, and one that I had spoke about for some years.  

The rest of the evening was perfect, the food excellent, the wine(s) delightful and the company as good as ever.

Our Bergen trip was, unfortunately, far too short but we will return, for sure, again… perhaps during the summer months.  

To learn more about Bergen, one of the antique Hanseatic League ports, please click here

We might have given you good tips for hidden places to visit, things to do etc. but the feeling we came back home is well beyond the more or less discerning traveller’s experience. We came home knowing we now have incredibly good friends in Norway….  


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