Travel /
Trentino-Alto Adige

A Sweet Escape

“A shelter where you can escape, even from yourself, because you know that’s where you’ll find your bearings again.”

After 3 weeks in the islands anchored to the blue of the Aegean and swept by the Meltemi – an essential destination of my summers since I was a child – we arrived late at night in the mountains. From Greece – in the middle of a chaotic and hectic summer with dozens of last-minute requests and a crazy and desperate routine that never left me a moment of respite – I was eager to find a mountain hut.  A place with a soul, where I could rest my mind, away from everything and above all, after a hot summer, where the temperatures were cooler.  After reading “The Charm of the Moutain Huts. A Little Praise of the Night in the Mountains ” I was convinced that three nights under the starry sky of Trentino was what I needed to recover an idea of peace.

Nothing more magical than going to bed in a wooden hut in the immense silence of the mountain, whose grandeur and stillness always remind us of our quick passage on the planet. “The hut serves to remove the world, not to replace it. The mountain hut feeds on distances, and distance has no walls. The hut does not include residents, only passing guests. If it becomes home, it is no longer a refuge ”writes Camanni.

We leave Rome, after a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, always too loaded. Every time we leave the house – whether its for a weekend or a month –  it seems that we are about to move. Five bags in two and Umag, our red-striped cat adopted in Istria (Croatia) in early June, grabbed from the concrete street vase where he had been meowing desperately for hours, or maybe days. After leaving him for almost two weeks with the petsitter while we were in Greece (together with his older brothers – the cats already residing in via Flaminia who didn’t take the surprise of the newcomer well at all) we decided that we could not leave him home again  so, in addition to the five bags, we also loaded Umi and his bulky plastic litter into the car.

After endless hours of driving – and devastated by the traffic of the A1 motorway closures before Florence, with 45 degrees and the air conditioning of the car broken – we arrive in Venice, the first stop of the itinerary – we are getting married there and need to meet with several suppliers. We stay for one night and continue on the next day. On the way between Venice and Trentino, we stop for lunch in Pieve di Soligo to meet friends who have a house in the area. They take us to a restaurant that looks like it came out of an impressionist painting by Monet, L’Osteria Dai Mazzeri. Nestled between vineyard clad hills of Prosecco, the Osteria is a place of the past with a small garden blooming with flowers that serves dishes such as braised tortelli with cabbage cream and croutons with radicchio and duck speck. After a lavish lunch, we resume the road to finally reach the Chalet del Doch. 

The name had already inspired me from my first research on the internet, as I typed “chalet in Trentino” to look for accommodation. From the site I had little understanding, but I had sensed that it was a special  and therefore, almost in a poke, I had booked. We arrived late at night. The gps stops working. Phones don’t pick up. We have been climbing for over 15 minutes on a small road in the woods after turning right following the only sign that pointed in our, so coveted, direction. Finally we see some lights in the middle of the woods and a clearing opens up. I tell him “it must be this, the, road ends”. We scramble out of the car exhausted and I call – in the only place where I can get the phone picked signal – the owner, with whom I had spoken in the afternoon. Clelia replies immediately, I tell her that we have arrived – I think – and she tells us: stop, I will come to greet you. In the darkness of the Trentino summer nights I shiver – it’s 13 degrees. When I hopped into the car in Rome, it was 37 degrees Celsius. Gabriele is happy as a child – he loves to feel cold, something I will never understand. Clelia takes us to our room. One of the few chalets leaning on the slope, facing the woods, which in the darkness of a moonless night can hardly be glimpsed, but whose powerful presence releases an energy that is difficult to tell. There are no lights around and at the bottom of the valley you can hear a stream gurgling and flowing vigorously.

We enter the chalet. A mountain dream with open eyes. Just renovated, all in wood, a small fireplace, a bathroom with a wonderful shower. “You took us to heaven” Gabriele tells me. “How is it that you never get one wrong?”. I look around satisfied. I am happy. I knew he would like it and that it would be our only love nest for the next three days, after a summer – a beautiful one – but always spent in the company of friends or relatives. I slip into the shower, stay there for half an hour, let the hot (mountain) water wash away the tiredness of the day and get into bed with Gabriele who is already asleep. Umag has already rolled up on the bed, an orange wad curled up at our feet.

We wake up in the morning and we are in paradise. To the left the valley opens up, enveloped in a hazy morning mist, covered with woods on both sides. I look around, the chalets are a handful, huddled on a piece of clearing. I see Lamas. The owners have dozens of them and in the morning they let them graze free, happy and curious. We walk up from our chalet to the main house and sit in the small room to have breakfast. Everything is prepared every morning – homemade cakes, yogurt and milk from the cows of the nearby pastures, homemade jams and local cold cuts, such as carne salada. After breakfast we decide to go for a walk. After all, the main reason why I wanted – and we wanted – to come to the mountains was also to walk. Since I read Erlin Kagge’s book “Walking” a few years ago, I realized that it works as a form of meditation for me. I can’t sit trying to clear my mind, but I can walk for hours letting my mind wander and when my legs start getting tired and physical fatigue takes over then it’s a sort of mental cleanse.

We study the map of the trails together with Clelia and, being the first day, we decide to follow the easier and closer one, which arrives at the Calaìta lake, which then continues and arrives in the valley overlooking the Pale di San Martino. A total wonder. We walk through the woods – the moss is so dense, green and soft that it looks like Venetian velvet. I think of Kagge’s book and “Shinrin Yoku”. A practice that literally translates into “bath in the forest”, a form comparable to aromatherapy that the Japanese have discovered to be a cure-all for health: being immersed in a forest for over two hours, breathing in the air, improves the immune system, enough to be subsidized by their national health system. I walk losing myself in the scents, noises and colors of a forest that swallows us. We stop to eat at the Lozen mountain hut. Gabriele meets some grazing cows and decides to try to caress them. We return to the Chalet in the afternoon, tired but happy. We have dinner in the main hut – the presentation of the dishes is fine dining restaurant standard, the quality too. Lagrein from a local producer is poetry in a glass. We go to bed with a feeling of joy beating in our chests.

The second day we went to see the Pale di San Martino di Castrozza, giants of the Dolomites with pink hues, passing through sweet villages full of flowers on the windows, such as Primiero di San Martino. Once we arrived, we took the Colverde cable car to go up to the intermediate station, and there the Rosetta cable car to get to the top. The Rosetta hut and the homonymous peak can be reached with two easy paths. At the top of the Pale the landscape is granite and bare, enveloped by passing clouds, which at 2,578 meters softly embrace the profiles of the peaks. That evening, we went for dinner outside our chalet.  The Maso Santa Romina alone would be worth the trip. A few minutes drive from the Chalet del Doch, the farm is located in the green valley of the Cismon. The histrionic owner is the beating heart of the restaurant and accompanies you on a culinary journey. After four courses each and a bottle of Pinot Noir, we fell into the sleep of the righteous.

The days in Trentino went by like this. I worked less. The phone had little signal and after 9 pm I was no longer available, as we went to bed early and our room had no telephone signal whatsoever – and I could no longer text clients who stressed over which popular beach club on the Amalfi Coast to head to on the next day. I thought a lot and slept 10 hours a night. Only in places of grand nature can I focus on what is most important to me. Perhaps because you are forced to confront yourself with what is much bigger than you – the mountain for example, whose awe-inspiring majesty puts everything under a different lens – and you realize that she was here before and will be here after. Going up in the mountains during summer has shifted my boundaries, I will never be able to give it up. And the Chalet nel Doch – immersed in the homonymous Valley –  is one of those shelters where you can escape, even from yourself,  because you know that’s where you’ll find your bearings again.