Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WWI on the Lagazuoi

I've been away from the blog for a while because I was hiking with my father in the mountains.
Now that he is gone, I would like to share one trail and location with you. It combines history with glorious mountain panoramas. That is the Mount Lagazuoi, a stronghold for the Italian and Austrian troops during WWI.

View of Lagazuoi with cable car from Passo Falzarego

We started our hike up the Austrian side, leaving Passo Val Parola and following the route Kaiserjaeger. The Austrians had this side and the top of Lagazuoi as its defence. Along with the neigbouring Sas de Stria (see post), it created and almost invincible defence strategy because they could see far into the valleys and along the only paths that the Italians needed to gain territory.

Val Parola Pass and the Austrian fort Tre Sassi

A view of Sas de Stria and the Marmolada (with glacier) in the distance

The trail features a suspended bridge that is a special treat along the hike. This is not the most common route to take up the mountain since it is a little bit more difficult than the one going up the front of the mountain at Passo Falzarego. However, I find it more interesting to take since it focuses on the Austrian front before we will switch over to the Italian section. It also presents the hiker with a separate side of the mountain and its views to take in, which differ from the second section of the day's walk.

The summit is always gratifying, here at 9029 ft.

Me with Mount Marmolada in the background, where there is a small museum dedicated to the Great War.

Rifugio Lagazuoi

After a short lunch, we passed the Rifugio Lagazuoi (which is reachable directly by cable car) and headed into the gallerie (tunnels) which were carved 1 km long through the mountain. The darkness, dampness, tight quarters and slippery steps make you think hard about the soldiers' problems while fighting that war. The winters were devastating. It was hard to survive, let alone fight in those conditions. My father hit his helmet-protected head about a dozen times on the ceiling while trying to make it down the tunnel just once. He is tall, but I don't think the soldiers had it too easy avoiding the same bumps a century ago. And the soldiers were there for 4 long years.


Artillery perch

Every so often, hikers now catch a view a great view from what used to be the artillery points and defensive holes which act as windows now.

The tunnel ends at the Cengia (Ridge) Martini, an Italian position under the Austrian line, protected by some rock formations.

The last half an hour of walking is an easy stroll down to Passo Falzarego.

If you are a WWI buff and like to hike, this is the place to go!

For more information about WWI , consult the following site: click Museo della Guerra, focusing on the nearby Trentino region but also including information about the Veneto front; Museum of the First World War in Marmolada; Five Towers open air museum in Lagazuoi area featuring still lifes of the war scenes with mannequins.

For more information about hikes in the area: click Cortina.Dolomiti.org

Monday, September 6, 2010

Local Headlines

Sacchi di pane fresco gettati nell'immodizia

Bags of fresh bread thrown in the trash

Leggo, giovedì 2 settembre, p. 20

The city was up in arms about the wasteful gesture on the part of the supermarket on via Gattamelata, Eurospar. Last Wednesday afternoon, they threw away kilos of fresh bread. This was probably because they did not sell everything that was baked in the morning and all food stores are closed on Wednesday afternoons. The local poor and homeless steadily arrived at the public trash container in question and took advantage of the boon.

I have seen homeless pilfering from that exact trash spot for years. There are two men in particular that gather their fruits and vegetables there just about everyday. There must have been more poor coming by that particular day, with the overflowing bread. In general, I have never seen anyone upset by these people going through the trash. The sight is an affirmation that poverty exists and that we are a wasteful society nowadays, throwing away things that are still usable and edible. It's an old and sad story...

In Italy, tons of unused bread ends up as rubbish from bakeries, food markets and individual houses. In January, the Corriere della Sera reported that Italy averages 24,230 tons of bread ending up in the waste bin a month. Not everybody uses their day-old bread. We can buy pane gratttugiato (bread crumbs) for very cheap, and even if Italian grate up the old crusty bread, there is only so much they can use of it at once. It's an interesting dilemna. Fresh is great but can be wasteful. Long-lasting is convenient but can be terrible as far as taste and health is concerned. We already consume enough preservatives in other food stuffs, right?

Veneto bread does not last as long as some other varieties on the penisola. I remember the bread I ate in Tuscany and other more southern areas of Italy would last up to a week. You just cut off slices as you go. The crust is thicker and must protect the bread from the air better. Here the bread shapes are all rather small and have thin crusts. Most of the bread is sandwich size: mantovani, zoccoletti, francesini, ecc.

F is buying some as I write. We just better make sure we finish off what we buy today. Panini are in order for lunch.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

After the Holidays

The city streets are crowded again with cars, motorcycles and mopeds. Just about everyone has come back from their summer holidays.

The kids have to start thinking about school which will open in my area on September 13th. There are tests to take in "deficient" subjects to make sure they can continue into their next year.

All the shops are open again. No more surprises of showing up somewhere to find the serranda down and a little sign with Ferie (Vacation) written in marker.

People of all ages are extremely brown after a month of serious tanning. Hair is blonder than usual from the great bleacher: the sun.

Italians have forgotten how to work. They can't remember their work passwords and details of office life. They are glowing when they talk about their vacations. There is a bit of a contest of who had the best one. Is it better to have been on the beach, relaxing in the mountains or travelling around the world?

Padua's relentless heat and humidity have subsided. We can breathe again. It's actually fun to be outside and in the sun. We even put on jackets in the evening, something we haven't done here for over 2 months.

Bentornati (Welcome back) Padovani!