When the bustle of carnival finally comes to an end, everything gets very quiet around here. February is a time for reflection, for the religiously inclined it is a time for renunciations of some kind, and for everyone it is a time to yearn for spring and the first glimpse of a little violet! Nevertheless, activity never stops since there are various options available to winter tourists too, because in the meanwhile, the snow has made its appearance, and ski enthusiasts are already having a ball!
Many people of our area are skillful (or playful) skiers, and there are places nearby in which to engage in this sport, one of the closest being Zum Zeri, on the “Due Santi” Pass, province of Massa-Carrara, region of Tuscany. Easily reached from Bedonia, the Zum Zeri skiing station has many different ski runs and cross-country trails ranging from the “Albareto” – 1250m, to the “Tubbing” (for tots) – 100m. The many different levels of difficulty ensure that everyone can have a go, regardless of their ability – or lack of! Chairlifts aid skiers in their movements around the slopes, and it is possible to rent skis, snowboards and specific footwear on the spot. Many restaurants and hotels, agritourisms or bed and breakfasts are to be found within a short distance, but day trips from Bedonia are also very feasible.
Another excellent place for skiing is Santo Stefano d’Aveto, an hour’s drive away from Bedonia. Approximately 90 km from Genova , it is situated in the region of Liguria, set in a basin overlooked by both Mount Maggiorasca and Mount Bue. There is currently a full program of events lasting up until the end of March which include trekking with snowshoes (ciaspole) followed by meals or afternoon snacks in characteristic places around the mountains, skiing races, sled competitions for children, and much more. In recent years important investments were made in Santo Stefano in order to modernise and expand winter sports facilities, therefore new cable cars and chairlifts were installed, and a snowpark with a mobile walkway were constructed at the foot of Mount Bue, boosting winter and summer tourism in the area. In addition to this, the shelter on Prato Cipolla (Onion Field) was restructured and enlarged, accommodating (and thawing out!) many a frozen skier during a busy day of sport. This town is a must to visit in any season, thanks to its many interesting features, such as a castle, an antique tower, and many churches safeguarding precious works of art within their walls.
As well as the ski slopes of Santo Stefano, not too far away you can come across the Mount Penna shelter “Casermette”. Thanks to the manager Claudio, world Sled dog driver champion, on set days it is possible to experience the thrill of driving a sled pulled by trained racing dogs, or of riding a snowmobile. Upon presentation of the ticket in the restaurant, a 15% discount is applied on the cost of a lunch at the shelter. Booking is highly advisable, since places are limited, and this activity is very popular.
Yet another suggestion for sporty folks is guided excursions around our area, in the company of experts who are very well-informed, and very reliable. They are G.A.E. guides (Guida Ambientale Escursionistica), members of an association which organises many excursions in the Emilia Romagna region, some of which take place during the later winter months. Some of these guides are from Bedonia, where respect for nature and the great outdoors are taken very seriously. It is necessary to book all participations in these trips, after which information is given regarding equipment, suitable clothing, and anything else you need to know. Outings include “ciaspolate” – walking with specific snowshoes – on the Tomarlo Pass, heading towards the highest mountains of the Ligurian Apennines; Mount Maggiorasca and Mount Bue. It is worth spending a few words on the subject of these guided excursions, because they are extremely well planned, and give participants the chance to explore some little known treasures around our mountains, hidden places one would otherwise be unlikely to ever see. Some are day trips, others may last a weekend or more; information regarding suitable ages or levels of walking skills required are always given – many of these trips are great for children, or even for tiny tots! During the warmer months, G.A.E. excursions open up a whole new world for nature lovers, and a lot of them are right on our doorstep!
Our thanks to Gigi Cavalli for the photos.