Winter Wonderland in the Italian Alps
What better way to pass a sunny Sunday in February, than to head to the Italian Alps for the day. We got in the car and started driving out of the city for Pian Benot, in Northwest Piedmont near the French border. We weaved our way along the valley roads slowly working our way up towards our finally destination which sits at over 1600m asl. The initial intention was to strap on some skis and hit the slopes. On arrival I discovered that due to intensely windy conditions the main ski lift was closed for the day. Incredible, I guess no skiing then. From the ski lodge I could clearly see the ski lift chairs swings madly to and fro higher up the mountain. I think to myself maybe it is for the best that I remain on the ground. Despite the setback the day offered many wonderful sights and sounds. The sky was a perfectly clear blue or “azzuro”, a fittingly very Italian colour. Children were throwing snowballs and tobogganing down the nearby slopes. Of course no outing in the mountains is complete without a hearty plate of polenta with wild boar and/or gorgonzola cheese, with a glass of wine! Too good! There is even an athlete’s menu for the young racers that come to practice on the sleep windy slopes. We had a quick bit to eat at the ski lodge then we went out for a walk to explore more of the area. We followed a small road which serviced a few homes that were nestled into the wintery landscape. The road was flanked on either side by two meter high snow drifts. As I rounded a corner I came across three Italian adventurers braving the wild. They were equipped with snowshoes and poles and seemed cold. I saluted them, “Ciao come state? Bella giornata oggi” (Hi, how are you? It’s a beautiful day). Their leader responded, “Hello, we are ok but we had to turn back after we got above the tree line because of the wind. We need to warm up at the chalet and get some polenta. You should come back with us, this wind will knock you over.” To which I gave my typical response “Non preoccuparti, sono Canadese” (Don’t worry, I am Canadian).