Michela & Roberto, our friends we met in the Dolomiti, kept us surprisingly busy during the short time we were there with them. There was the unexpected but lovely (after-the-fact) climbing of the mountain to see a gorgeous waterfall, the strolls through the little town, the frequent stops for refreshments, the pic-nic near the running stream, the stops at play grounds, and, my favorite, the day at the malga.
I'm afraid I am unable to absolutely define malga, but I will attempt to describe our experience. We arrived at a full parking lot and then proceeded to hike a kilometer or so to reach a pasture in the middle of the mountains -- a pasture full of seemingly happy cows. Along with the pasture there was also a building that served as a restaurant and a place to milk those happy cows.
We enjoyed a leisurely mountain lunch with all sorts of local offerings, to include these delicious canederli, which resemble meatballs but are more like a cross between gnocchi and dumplings. They were very good, but not nearly as good as the deserts made with the farm fresh milk of free-range Alpine cows.
Once the lunch was done, we took the lead of our Italian hosts and were content to just hang out there for a while. We took pictures with the cows, played a bit of frisbee on the grounds (yes, there were poop incidents), and just soaked up the sun on the deck chairs. There wasn't a need to hurry on to the next adventure. I noticed that most of the other hikers followed the same routine. Chill. Relax. Breathe. Be.
Richard and Young One do their best cow impersonations. Mooo!