New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tonale, Italy (warning, long)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Today, April 25th, Italian national holyday, officially known
as "Liberation Day", the day WWII (1941-1945, with 1941-1943 being on one side
and 1943-1945 seeing Italy torn in two, the northern half under the German control, and
the southern half being under Allied control, with Italians fighting on both sides,
effectively making WWII a civil war for us) ended for us Italians.
What better way to celebrate than going somewhere and ski?
Said, done!
I woke up as usual, quickly checked the forums, and then rang up my mother
and asked her if she was ready (I'd already hasked her if she wished to
come and ski the evening b4).
And off we went.
I did not check any weather forecast, nor any snow report.
I decided to trust fate.
We set off to reach a little glacier, the Presena glacier at Passo del Tonale, some 2,5 hrs away.
During the journey, I mentally prepared myself to ski the 2 "little" runs
belonging to the glacier, steepy, icy, challenging enough, but really short...
How big my surprise was to discover that the run coming down from the
glacier to the resort was still open (it's not really a big surprise, the run is exposed to the
And what a run, steep and long, known as Pista Paradiso (Paradise Run).
We skied this run until the lower third started to be a little mushy,
then went to the glacier runs and skied some more...
Alas the weather was a little cloudy, in fact the top third of the runs was immersed into the clouds
and the light was difficult, to use an euphemism...
Other surprises, the glacier was crowded by some Italian skiing team (not he top one
but the so called b and c teams) there to train, and by around 100 instructors
taking a three days clinic!
It was really weird to see 10-15 instructors, every single one wearing the official uniform,
skiing in line behind a National Instructor ("Istruttore Nazionale" that's
the title of the instructors' instructor, while the instructors Italian name is "Maestro")
On my way back from the runs, I stopped to pray on a little monument erected in honour
of the soldiers, Austrian Gebirgsjaeger (or Kaiserjaeger) and Italian Alpini alike, who had
to fight on those mountains for three bloody years, from 1915 till 1918.
Those poor gus, not only had to fight against each other, but against the mountain as well.
what a tragedy, made worse by the fact that on both side (the Austrian and the Italian)
ethnic Italian were enlisted. I'm really happy that the monument has been erected to honour
both sides, and not only to glorify the winner.
Imagine what happened when an ethnic Italian who decide to swear allegiance to the Kaiser
(being an Austrian subject, after all) what taken prisoner by the Italian army...
If it was a private, no process for him, just a quick shot...
The same would have happened to an ethnic Italian (but Austrian citizen) who crossed the border to join
the Italian army because of his beliefs of an united Italy, if taken prisoner,
for him meant to be hunged for high treason...
Anyway, after this little interlude, I went back to the big run, the Pista Paradiso...
At the bottom, looking up, and noticing the surrounding peaks, couldn't help but go back in
time when I was 18 and daring, and skied the BC at Tonale, with the help of some of the
local Alpini precint (we and my then buddies made friends with a couple of enlisted soldiers, and they
"showed" to us the off-piste possibilities of the place)

Sorry if I brought up WWI in this but, the mountains which lie east/north east from here, where
the old border between Italy and the then Austro-Hungarian empire ran, are full of near history,
and going there to ski, signifies to me a jump back in the past.
It means not only fun, but also a way to, stealing LisaMarie words, ponder on history.
Places like the Tonale, Passo Stelvio, Marmolada, Falzarego, Col-di-Lana (aka the "Blood hill")
are loaded with the presence of those men who fought and dies there nearly 90 years ago.
So loaded that the Tonale, Stelvio and Marmolada glaciers, sometimes still give back the
poor remains of a soldier, it's become a rare event now, but it still happens.

[ April 25, 2002, 12:27 PM: Message edited by: M@tteo ]
post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 
BTW, this link to the picture of Pista Paradiso and the Presena glacier (above the run, on the right)
It is not a picture as of today, I think it's been taken during winter.

And the slopes stats...

Obviously, the site homepage is

[ April 25, 2002, 12:50 PM: Message edited by: M@tteo ]
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
BTW, when I asked a liftee how long they had planned to stay open, the answer was:
"Untill the snow will last!"

[ April 29, 2002, 02:57 AM: Message edited by: M@tteo ]
post #4 of 8

Really cool shot of Paradisio! This shows just how wild European skiing can be incomparison to the US's manicured flat little hills.

I saw a sad piece of news mentioning that during wartime many of the most violent encounters happen in mountains because 'mountains' are usually used as a natural boundary line between countries. It's too bad that mountain dwellers - the people probably least interested or involved in their country's political disputes - usually end up being the ones on the front lines protecting the remote city folk.
post #5 of 8
M@tteo - the Stelvio makes me think more of Fausto Coppi and Andy Hampsten, so there's good history there too.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Cheap, that's right, the "montanari" (mountain dwellers) were the least interested, but the ones who suffered most during WWI...
Can you belive that I spent nearly the whole day skiing up and down that run? And it made me feel fulfilled anyway?
P.S. Not really, after a while, I started to look around for variations, but having my "old" mother with me, helped as a reality check. I think that, had I been alone, I would have done something really stupid.

epic, that' history too [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #7 of 8
Matteo--on a lighter note, years ago, during the Vietnam War, in college I roomed across the hall from an Italian guy (named Siegfried, blond hair and blue eyes, I might add) who'd done his mandatory military service as an alpini, probably helping guys like you find their way off piste. All the rest of us, with Southeast Asia never very far from our minds, though he'd had a pretty good deal. I guess "when" can be as important as "where."
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
sno'more, I do agree with you, military service in the Alpini can not and does not compare to a "tour" in Vietnam.
Still, relatively speaking, your room mate experience was not necessarily entertaining.
1) From his name, I guess he is an ethnic German (tiroler, pecisely a Sudtiroler), and serving in the Italian Army (something eyed belligerantly back in the '70; Italy was preceived as "the occupant" by many in SudTirol, then) may have not been one of his favourite activities.
2)Garrison life for a draftee of the Italian Army was pure boredom, one year spent doing nothing, and in the Alpini there had been stories (or urban legends?) of soldiers being forced to eat stale bread soaked into mule's pi$$ from their older a kind of initiation to their time with the Army.
The period of time I am referring in my earlier post, is dated back in the mid '80, and I am referring to only one particular garrison, where one of the skiing school for the Army officers
was settled. The privates there had lot of free time, and they were considered privileged, compared to the Alpini serving in other garrisons posted on the Italian borders with Austria and the (then) Yugoslav's people republic.
Alpini, particularly the ones with good skiing skills, were employed in different ways:
A) as patrollers during the winter season, provided with a stretcher and taught the first-aid principles, they where helping the tourist, while as the same time improving the communities
perception of the Army.
B) as ski instructors for the troops and the Officers.
C) if coming from a racing background, they joined the racing teams.
As a matter of fact, all of the Italian World Cup racers are members of one of the Esercito (Army), Carabinieri, Polizia (National Police) aka P.S.(Pubblica Sicurezza), Guardia di Finanza (Border/Financial Police) or Corpo Forestale (Forestal Services) Racing Teams.
As an example, Tomba was a Carabiniere.
I don't remember well but, Isolde Costner is either a Finanziere or a Forestale.
Daniela Ceccarelli (Super-G Gold Olympic medalist at SLC) is a Poliziotta (National Police member).

Tonale was at the border between the Austrian Empire and thew Italian Kingdom, but on either side of the border, it was inhabited by ethnic Italians.

I'll try to post lighter things, from now on.
Cheers, Matteo.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Resorts, Conditions & Travel