Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holiday Festivities

It was my kind of Christmas visit and celebration this past week. We had old friends visiting from halfway around the world and made some new friends as well. We did a bit of sightseeing, to Monviso, which is not only the highest peak in our range of the alps, but also is the headwaters of the Po river, longest river in Italy. We enjoy taking our friends and family to our off the beaten path places that we love. Pian della Regina, is at the end of the road past Crissolo, and sets under the very impressive face of Monviso, 3,841 m (12,600) I love this mountain as it is such a presence in our landscape and is an imposing monolith that stands out in a crowd of mountains. Fabrizio spent a winter season there, years ago, running their on mountain "baita" operation, and has been treated as part of their family ever since. I am part of that extended family and we always find a warm welcome when we visit their "Baita della Polenta", restaurant/rooms and refugio, all rolled into one. The area is a bit past it's winter heyday when the small ski area used to really pull them in from Torino and beyond, but the lifts have aged and the family no longer has the will or resources to replace the lift that started just outside their door. It's a shame, as it is a stunning place and a fun hillside to do a few turns down. They still have a lift in town that runs on the weekends and they hosted the world mountaineering championships a couple of years back. Summer is still hopping with backpackers of all nationalities and mountaineers, making their way across the GTA, which is a famous footpath crossing the length of the entire European alps, and a popular trek in the summer. We love taking people over there as it is a regional park, a stunning drive, and a charming stop at the top of it all with warm friendly people there to look after you. Very worth while place to make the effort to experience, indeed.
Continuing on our winter tour of the valley we spent one day skiing Sestriere with our friends in slightly overcast weather, but otherwise pleasant conditions for skiing.

What a treat to go skiing. Christmas Day we got up at a reasonable hour, had breakfast and off we went to Prali on a gorgeous sunny day. The conditions were good, the sun was out and all was well in our world. We ripped it up all day and then came home for a feast fit for the occasion. Good wine, good food, good friends and family. Who could ask for more.
Both of the ski areas are fun and deserve more of a proper write up, so I think I'll save that for another day in the new year, when I'm up for writing more about these places, Prali especially, as it fits into my off the beaten trail and hidden gems catergories. Something to share, in the future, especially as I have a few more photos to trot out.
Happy New Year to all!

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