An outing for all the family, in the Val Viola

A trip to the beautiful Val Viola, I remember it as if it were yesterday.

It’s a special memory for us at the Rezia, a day out in the Val Viola with the obligatory plate of polenta and stew, which we had definitely earned!

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I am Martina, one of the five children at the Rezia. I was young when we started going up into the mountains on Sundays. And if I didn’t go with my family, I would go with friends of the family, and when they weren’t available, there were friends of friends.

The memory is imprinted on my mind and in a flash I am transported back to being a little girl, nearly twenty years ago. I was about five years old and was getting ready for a trip into the mountains. I was allowed to get up very early, with mum calling “Martina, it’s time” down the corridor.

I had no worries about the alarm going off at 4:30 in the morning (because proper mountaineers start early) and I began whistling, ready to take on the challenge, which I saw as something to be enjoyed.

I had carefully prepared my backpack, clothes and boots the night before because my mum made me, saying that I shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what I could do today. In all honesty, in the morning I was glad that everything was ready and mum was right. I always put some pear juice in my backpack, along with a bottle of sparkling water, a salami sandwich and a bag of Haribo. 

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That morning, along with my friend Cri and her mum Stefi, we set off by car from Bormio to a place called Arnoga, where we turned onto the forest road. We parked in Altumeira and began our walk. Despite walking for hours, Cri and I were tireless and we never stopped talking, not even for a moment.

On several occasions, Stefi would make us sing to calm us down. And obviously we did not hesitate to belt out local songs. After hours and hours, we began to complain about being hungry, so Stefi began her countdown of “girls, we’ll be there in 30 minutes”. When the Rifugio came into view, we began the final push.

Rifugio Viola is a small, modest house where you immediately feel at home. It’s a great feeling to reach your summit and feel like you really deserve your lunch (and what a lunch!). Alice was the lady who ran the Rifugio. She would greet guests, lay the tables with beautiful red and white checked tablecloths, cook, clean and tell stories. Alice was always smiling and treated the children just the same as the adults. As was traditional, we ate yellow polenta at the Rifugio, prepared with love on a wood fire or on the grill. We ate the polenta with a herby mountain stew and very soft Alpine cheese.

There was always room for dessert though and so I ate a slice of buckwheat cake with blueberries. Cake should always be accompanied by a cup of coffee; for us little ones, to act like the adults, we asked for a cup of fresh Alpine milk and pretended it was coffee.

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I returned to the Rifugio a few years ago. The mountains were even more beautiful (perhaps chatting with Cri distracted me from the scenery), Alice’s smile and hospitality were just like they used to be and I felt just as happy as I did as a young girl, who whistled as she walked.


Technical information:

  • Altumeira car park, accessed by toll road.
  • The route is gently uphill, with flat sections.
  • Opportunities for several different walks starting from the Rifugio Viola.
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