What does ten guys from Piacenza do in Valnontey? Clearly, a bachelor party in the mountains, together with our friend and natural guide, Roberto, aka Trekking Alps.
It’s 10 in the morning and here they come, full hangover after yesterday night celebration in Turin downtown. A short briefing and we are all ready to go to our final destination, the amazing Valnontey in the Aosta Valley, to spend the night at the Vittorio Sella Refuge.
During the time spent driving, we get to know each other a little and the time goes by fast. As soon as we enter the Valnontey, all the speaking cease and everybody is speechless – me as well, it is my first time here too. We park the car in the nice and beautiful town of Cogne, where we have a good coffee and make the guuys try the genepy – a local tonic liquor made with herbs – and they do like it, not totally sober yet, while we lace up our boots and prepare to go.
Almost from the beginning, the path is quite steep and we quickly climb meters and meters of heightdrop, swithcback after switchback. Then, suddenly, two red ears appear and there it is the first surprise of this valley: a red fox just a few meters from us. It is the first time for them and me as well to see this animal from such a short distance. It shows no fear and doesn’t run away, it is actually very curious and watch us from a safe distance, surely ready to fly away at the first danger signal.
But the fox is not the only animal we meet during the hike, ibex and chamois are all over and guide us all the time. After a while, the guys begin to be a little bit tired: yesterday night party is beginning to ask its prize and they are quickly running out of energies, but luckly we are almost at the refuge.
After we get over the last bend, the Vittorio Sella Refuge appears in front of us. The guys can finally relax in the beautiful living room of the refuge where it will be served dinner in a couple hours. It is one of the rare occasions where I am served and I must admit I like it, even though hut- and tent-life are something I would never trade anything for, but sometimes getting spoiled is nice.
We propose to the guys to walk a while more, up the to Lauson little lake, also known as Loson lake and all but one declare themselves pretty satisfied and proud and decide to stay on the comfy chairs at the refuge. But him, the youngest one, still has some energies left and comes with us to the Lauson lake, from where we can enjoy a wonderful view all over the Valnontey.
After we are back at the refuge and still before dinner, I find some time to try the new little piece of my photography gear, a filter which is used to make long exposure photos even during the day and with strong light.
For the photography-enthusiasts, I’m talking about the ND1000 Haida filter, which lets you have exposures even more than 30 seconds long even with daylight. The result, being only a try, it definetly good, here it is!
Then it finally comes dinner time. The room is amazing, the guys are rested and ready to party again, full of energies, helped by the first glasses of wine. We attract everybody’s attention and soon two french girls come to our table.
Soon after, a very kind couple decide to offer us a Grolla dell’amicizia, to get involved in the partying.
You are asking yourself – if you are not used to traditions of Aosta Valley – what a Grolla dell’amicizia is. Well, it is also called coupe de l’amitié in french – bowl of the friendship, for our non-french speaking friends – it is a typical beverage of Aosta Valley, served in a round bowl made out of wood, with a little lid and many spouts from where one can sip the caffè alla valdostana, this coffee and grappa beverage that after a sip or two really make making new friendships easier!
After chatting and laughins a lot, it is time to go to sleep. We divide into the two dormitories with eight places each one, and for the most demanding, there is a hot shower in the outside bathroom.
As the italian says “morning has gold in its mouth” and we take advantage of it. Once awaken and after having a good breakfast, we quickly go back to the car on the trail walked yesterday. The day is amazing, even better than yesterday, and we decide to make our time worth and go to see the well known Lillaz waterfalls.
Here, during the centuries, the Urtier creek has carved canyons and gorges where water flows fast and violent creating wide waterfalls and modifying, faintly but endlessly the landscape.
The last stop of this weekend is a launch stop in the Cogne town, at the ristorante Belvedere restaurant, where we make our friends taste another specialty of Aosta Valley, the Zuppa Valdostana made with rice, fontina cheese, stale bread and butter – once back home I have even found the recipe of this deliciousness, the Seupetta di Cogne!
It really is a deliciousness, but be careful of cholesterol! The view from the restaurant leave us breathless, eating with this view is wonderful.
In the end, it is time to go back home. This long weekend is ended, but it will stay as a wonderful experience for all of us!