Yes, I know. Winter season has not been that generous, at least in the North of Italy. No heavy snowfall and barely snow-clad peaks. This sounds really strange especially considering that all the mountain areas around here, including The Little Dolomites and the Dolomites, are the favourite destination for a large number of tourists looking for a mental and physical well-being surrounded by a gentle blanket of optic white snow. It’s odd that at the same time mild Sicily faces a biting cold and citrus in the Southern regions lie buried under a soft mantle.
Nevertheless I decide that today is my day. A day for walking on the snow, touching its gentle flakes. Sky is clear and mountains profiles perfectly marked.
So what are we waiting for?
It’s not that early in the morning. Our departure time is supposed to be at 8.30, however we are unable to keep our roadmap. Invariably late Mauri and me are ready to leave home at 09.45 and only ten minutes after we have our first pit stop to buy salami and mortadella sandwiches.
Today excursion will lead us on the top of Monte Verena, which is located in the Vicenza Province, exactly in the Asiago plateau.
It’s quite easy to reach it, but since I think I’m not that good in riding mountain roads, I pretend to be still sleepy and I hand the car key to Mauri. We leave Roana behind us and move direction Mezzaselva. After some kilometres of winding bends, we finally arrive at the parking, where we park our car free of charge. The area offers a plenty of activities such as skiing, snowboarding and walking as well.
We wear our snowshoes, promptly rent as soon as we get out of the car, and take the route to Rifugio Forte Verena (route n° 820).
I immediately feel the relaxing power of the snow blanket and I breath deeply, as I had to collect as much pure air as possible. It’s weird I think, how the hectic pace of everyday life can lead to a full detachment from nature. Outdoor activities can be the ideal relief against a sedentary and stressful lifestyle. Let’s start walking!
Snow is shallow in this first part of the route so we are soon hopping in the fresh snow after a few steps. Since we are supposed to walk for 3 hours (this is the estimated time to reach Rifugio Verena) I pursue the beaten road to preserve my forces, while Mauri nicely laughs at me repeating that zapping burns more calories than our hike. With a satisfied smirk on my face I keep walking almost ignoring his provocation. I am very keen on reaching the top of the mountain. An amazing place is waiting for us, while in the meanwhile I catch some glimpses of the Asiago plateau, which is together stunning and touching. The path slopes gently leaving me the chance to appreciate the embracing smell of the forest while looking at its intense dark green dappled with white spots.
All of a sudden I bump into an old building camouflaging with the mountain face. During the World War First off-duty soldiers were barracked here.
What I forgot to mention is that this area played a fundamental role during the war. Shortly we reach Forte Verena (which can be visited) and I immediately understand why this place had a so crucial historical importance. Due to its strategic position it gained its fame as “Dominatore dell’Altopiano” (Dominant of the Plateau). A shot fired from here in May 1915 sanctioned the entrance of Italy into the war.
Soon after we move slowly and quietly towards Rifugio Forte Verena, where we have a rest while sunbathing and drinking a Birra Cimbra. The natural painting in front of me includes a never-ending mountain framework. Peaks are all around and my gaze gets lost in the useless attempt to cross these wonderful mountains profiles towards the infinity and beyond.