Spring has sprung & Piaggio lovin’

Today we had a lovely cruisey day. No flapping about on floppy xc skis or dodging rocks and tree stumps on a ski tour.   After high temperatures yesterday and strong hot winds overnight, the snowpack  has finally succumbed to the spring like conditions.  No more ski touring for us I’m afraid, even on the coldest and highest north facing slopes.

We reluctantly ate our last breakfast at Rifugio Scioatolli and thanked the lovely staff, before skiing down to Gino.  We really loved this little ski area – the 5 Torri.  Reminds us of a NZ Club field, but with prosecco on tap!!     It’s really warm again today, but the wind has died and the sun is shining brightly as we head down into the Cortina town centre.  One of the things that we still can’t get used to is the “siesta” when all the shops and offices close down between noon and 4pm every weekday.  We’d love to be able to ski early and sometimes finish at 2pm to explore the towns  we ski from.  But there’s no retail therapy to be had during the afternoon hours, so inevitably we end up skiing until stumps.

Cortina is a well established ski resort for the Italians. A host of the winter Olympics in the 1950’s, the glamour is still there, although a little faded as indicated by a few empty shops in the main street.  For the first time, the majority of number plates in the car parks were Italian.  According to a lovely lady from Rome who we met on the chairlift today, all the wealthy Romans & Venetians have an apartment or chalet here and they fill the resort during holiday times. Like Wanaka over Christmas New Year the town population of 7000 swells to over 50,000.  Cortina has a pedestrian centre where locals and tourists alike can perambulate.  We arrived at about 10:30am and it appears that this is the time of day when all the women of Cortina take their fur coats out for a walk.  While I failed to capture it with a photo, one of the most priceless images of the morning was of a very elderly lady shuffling along in her long mink coat and hat….talking on her mobile phone.  Old and new traditions merging!

Mid-morning is also the time when all the “glamour-mums’ come out for coffee. Resplendent in either their fur coats or Gucci puffer jackets over their designer gym gear, they all seemed to have tight figures and cosmetically plumped lips.  I’m perhaps being a little harsh as Graeme was enjoying the scenery.   Over coffee…the pièce de résistance – our neighbour, a cosmetically enhanced woman in a tight tracksuit had a “handbag dog”.   I have only ever seen papparazzi shots of handbag dogs, but I’ve never been up close and personal to one.  Graeme couldn’t believe his eyes as this poor little ball of fluff was stuffed back into the woman’s handbag as she left the cafe.   Actually he tells me now that he was rather hoping that the guy with the czechoslovakian wolfdog had made an appearance to really see some fur flying.

Again, the skiing at Cortina is surprising.  It is a totally disconnected resort, with each area a significant driving distance from the other.  Today we were on the eastern side of the resort in the Faloria area.  There’s only about 8 lifts here but the terrain is good with steep runs through the trees and the western faces have expansive views back over Cortina and the high mountains surrounding Arabba.

View from Faloria looking toward Tolfana and 5 TorriVeiw looking south

Lunch was outside in the sunshine today.  So much for my theory of Italians not caring about “table turns!”.  A very officious waiter was directing traffic in a loud voice with lots of Italian gesticulation.  We managed to get a prime table with a view out over the valley, but we had to vacate by 2pm.  It was only 12:15 – “no problemo”.  But then after sitting for some time before anyone noticed us, we realised that we had chosen a restaurant run by Basil Fawlty and Manuel.   It was controlled chaos.   But after we finally managed to order some wine, we sat back to enjoy the show. Eventually a harried underling “Manuel” served us some delicious food …and we just managed to finish our meal before the bells chimed in the valley churches for two o’clock.

Back down in the car park after lunch, Graeme has spied a Piaggio.  He loves these crazy Italian converted 3 wheel motorbikes.  I really really don’t get it?  As I am bullied into taking photos he is running his hands lovingly over the paintwork and peering into the cabin through the windowless door.  “This would be tax deductible in NZ…Andy” he gushes enthusiastically.   “So is a Karcher window washer Graeme,  but like you said to me…do I really need one?”    Well actually I do need an easier way to wash windows…but what’s wrong with a trailer behind our 4WD?  Why would a tiny, unstable 3 wheel motorbike be better?   Aaah men…they’re from Mars and we’re from Venus.

But somehow, we must have managed the art of compromise over the years.  Today is our 25th wedding anniversary.  There’s been some confusion over the last few days about the actual date?   Was it the 21st or 22nd February?  I thought it was the 21st which is why we stayed an extra night at R.Scoiattoli but Graeme is sure it’s today.  I expect he’s right.  But hey, it’s been a quarter of a century ago and already our memories are fading. But who really cares – we’ve made it a multi-day event!   What a fabulous way to celebrate 25 years together!   Three months in Italy doing what we love the most together and enjoying every minute… [well except for the vomiting and head cold parts….!!!].

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