Friday, August 17, 2012

Walking Again .....

We’re at it again!

Another weekend of walking with the CAI (Club Alpino Italiano), however, I’m now upgrading the term walking to trekking having climbed to 2174mt. This was a 2 day trip which started with a 5 hour bus journey to our starting point at Moggio (890mt) which is in the mountains to the right of Lake Como. Our walk on the first day took us to il Rifugio Cazzaniga-Merlin at 1889mt. This was our first stay at an Italian rifugio and I can happily report that it was excellent. A rifugio is a type of mountain cabin that sleeps guests in bunk-style accommodation. After settling in we then climbed the grassy pyramid of Mount Sodadura 2009mt. From here we had the most amazing views, apparently straight across to Switzerland! Who are we to argue!

The grassy pyramid of Mount Sodadura
Marino climbing Mount Sodadura

Unfortunatley the rifugio did not have showers and only 1 bathroom for 24 people. Francesca the secretary of CAI (who was on the walk), kindly allocated Marino and I the only 2 bed bunkroom, possibly because we are ‘stranieri’ (foreigners). So after a quick freshen up we went down stairs for a much needed refreshment, it was also wine o’clock at this stage so our beverage of choice was of course a lovely local Pinot Grigio – mmm delicious! We played a few rounds of Briscola (an Italian card game), and when we invited our fellow walkers to join in I was amazed to discover that; 1. A number of them did not know how to play and; 2. That some were unwilling to play as we were playing with cards from Trieste and not from Toscana. How bizarre, each region has their own pack of cards! So after twisting a few arms, convincing them that the cards were basically the same and teaching them how to play – we finally had a game going!

Our first rifugio!

Only until dinner was served. Half board (dinner and breakfast) is included at the rifugio, our dinner consisted of not one but two courses of homemade pasta, followed by a delicious dish of sausages and onions, as well as a platter of grilled meats all dished up with a big bowl of polenta – YUM! Not to forget an ample supply of ‘vino di casa’ to wash it all down with. Some of you may have noticed by now that food and drink plays a large role in our overall enjoyment, and if you’d have walked for 5 hours and scaled the mountains we did you’d understand!

Breakfast I’m afraid was not quite of the same standard.

The view across to Switzerland
Day 2 we set out just after 8am and headed along the slopes of Cima di Piazzo reaching the mouth of Campelli 1923mt, before climbing to the summit of Zuccone 2174mt. The scenery and terrain was quite stunning. We descended a little to another rifugio where we all sat to eat our ‘pranzo al sacco’ (I love this term – it means packed lunch) before the final descent begins.

Marino amongst the wild flowers
Descending here was not fun!

Here’s where it got a little weird? Half the group head off in one direction, the other half (having consulted with a local shepherd who clearly had no idea) split and went off in the other direction. Marino and I and two others were left standing in the middle not knowing which way to go? No head count, no consultation...I would suspect that this was totally against CAI policy. So, we decide, along with the other 2, to follow the majority, this took us down to the funivia station (a cable car) which then dropped us back to Moggio (890mt) where thankfully we met up with the others (who had taken a short cut) and our bus.

Melanie and our CAI friends take a break

Another wonderful experience with the CAI. They are a lovely group of people who have openly welcomed Marino and I. We look forward to many future walks (oops) treks with them during our time in Italy.

Our rifugio at a distance!

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