Monday, September 23, 2013

Peak Bagging in Italy

Because of our curiosity about the 10th Mountain division in World War II, our 2nd stop was Vidiciatia, Italy.  Vidiciatica is in the valley below Riva Ridge and Mt Belevedere, 45 miles north of Florence.   For those who don’t know the story of the 10th: the executive summary.  The 10th trained for 3 years in the US, largely near Aspen.  In 1945, the 10th were finally given an opportunity to show their stuff when no other forces could breach the German Gothic/Winter Line near here.  It is an exciting story that started with a technical climb up Riva Ridge which the German’s thought the Allied incapable of climbing.   BIG SURPRISE.  After taking Riva they went on to take Mt Belvedere.  The Italians love the 10th mountain for obvious reasons.  For the rest of the story check out the internet or watch the video. 
Riva Ridge from Mt Belevedere

On the drive to Vidiciata, we made a rewarding stop in Pistoia and were delighted with Pisano’s pulpit and the famous 16 cent. sculpted silver altar in the Duomo which has exquisite new and old testament panels.  We were directed off the beaten path to a charming little Bistro where we split seafood spaghetti and a salad of pecorino and nuts.    Our waitress was the charming Frederika who studied for years in Boston, and spoke English like an American.  Sadly, she was bitter about the lack of opportunity in Italy, which she thought was worse in Italy than US.
Donna & Frederika

 Spaghetti In Pistoia

Pistoia was the location of one of the time trials in the World Championship (Mondo Ciclismo)  bike race.  The town was all in a buzz….sound like Aspen?  There was a charming exhibition of antique bicycles that were used by working men….the bikes were tricked out with everything from knife sharpeners to musical instruments to chestnut cookers. 
                                                    Chestnut bicycle cooker.
 Returning to the topic of peak bagging.  We were thrilled to get more history from Bruno our inn host who was a special forces Alpini  and a 10th mountain aficionado.  He was quite helpful telling us the best routes to reach our peaks.  Mt Belevedere was the easiest peak and the 10th mtn monument at the top was a familiar icon for us. Bruno was concerned that we could not make it up the strenuous but non-technical climb to Riva Ridge, but we assured him we are strong hikers.  Turns out it was like doing  Arbaney Kittle 2 times with no flat places, 1500 feet in about 2 miles.   A good climb, but if we had guns on our back and went the technical route, whew!  What a challenge, even worse if Germans were shooting at you!
10th Mountain Monument   

                                                               Bernie in a Bunker

By the way, the English are everywhere here doing walking tours all over this area, which has many great hikes.  They are a delightful bunch and lots of fun.  Our inn sounds like Downton Abbey.  Oh I hear the dressing gong…gotta go. 
Waterfalls and more hiking!!!

PS…we wish to thank Jane Kendall and Bill Shaffer for their recommendations of Vidiciatico.


1 comment:

  1. I just re-read this Post and now have time to comment. You are making Italy as appealing as the McClains made Africa. Stop it right now! All your planning has certainly paid off and it sounds as if your days are interesting, exciting and invigorating. The IFBC in Seattle was terrific and, as always, coming back to Aspen, even better. I have been going to the Film Fest and will spend tomorrow and Monday at the Bells. D & B, the Bells are spectacular and the crowds are amazing. The moose are performing like, well, moose and the tourists love them. Please know that it snowed again today. #@%&# Missing you and look forward to another Post. SOON.