La Dolce Vita - Page 3
Rasic and Patitucci pick up the pace below the Civetta in a rush to make the dinner bell. Photo by PatitucciPhoto.
Smell the Coffee
The next morning we were greeted with coffee, fresh bread and butter. Early morning sun warmed the hut’s deck where everyone gathered to study their day’s objectives.
For us it was a descent to a valley, followed by a 2000-foot climb up to the Alta Via and then about 12 miles of trail to the next hut, the Rifugio Nuvolào.
Studying the map revealed a worrisome situation—there was a section of trail that was at least seven miles long without a hut, restaurant or bar. I cheered up, though, as I discovered that we could take a nearby chair lift to the valley below, saving our knees a pounding. Ah, Italy!
After our chairlift ride and half-hour cappuccino stop (tranquillo, tranquillo!) at a roadside café, we were ready to run. A 45-minute climb placed us on another high plateau and the Alta Via Trail. Once again, we were rolling up and over glacial moraines, climbing gentle trails through forests of Larch trees and descending winding singletrack in open meadows.
The next several hours justified every penny we paid for our airline tickets. Always gaining elevation, we were soon on a ridge with a steep eastern edge that dropped away to the distant town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. Soon the trail descended from the ridge and wandered through a massive open plain of boulders. Giant towers loomed. The landscape was surreal, and the darkening clouds brought a sinister feel to the air.
We ran up a short pass to a saddle. Now, all that was left was a descent to a road and quick climb to our next hut. However, a boisterous group of Italian hikers came charging up the trail, all speaking at the same time, their arms waving. Laughter and the rings of cell phones filled the air. Slowing our pace to weave through the crowd and saying, “Buon giorno,” we continued to the hut.
The last day involved a short, six-mile run to a well-traveled road outside of Cortina, home of the 1956 Winter Olympics. This section of trail wandered through an area called the Cinque Torre, or Five Towers, which is famous for its World War I history. Still in place are the very trenches, bunkers, artillery platforms and tunnels used by the battling Italian and Austrian armies. Our run turned into more of an interpretive walk, as we stopped frequently to study these artifacts.
After three blissful days, we arrived at the final stop where our car waited—parked at a strategically planned restaurant. Here, we enjoyed one last round of coffees and torts before loosening our laces and piling into the tiny rental car.
While pulling out from the parking area we saw Alta Via One heading off into the distance, sad that we wouldn’t be running it and experiencing the laughs and fine food at a hut this evening.
For running, eating, the landscape and chance meetings with amazing characters, Italy truly plays the ideal host. In a country where nothing is in much of a hurry, I was already feeling the need to rush back for more of La Dolce Vita.
Rasic ponders the consequences of rolling off her bunk in the night. Photo by PatitucciPhoto.