Thursday, January 2, 2014

Back to the mountains AKA conquering your fears AKA Happy New Year!

There was nothing really exciting going on here in the Cinque Terre for New Year's Eve, and when a cousin of Manuel and her boyfriend generously invited us up to the mountains to celebrate with them in his beautiful little home in the snow, I happily agreed.  I wasn't even thinking twice about returning to the village where, less then a year ago, I left in an ambulance with a fractured spine which left me completely immobile for weeks, and in a brace for months.  It never even crossed my mind, until we started sharing our New Year's Eve plans with everyone, and I started registering the incredulous looks.  Then I started to get a little nervous.  My wonderful doctor told me that, unfortunately, in these kind of injuries, it becomes much easier to re-fracture a bone that has already been broken.  Another fall, even a little one, could leave me in worse shape then before.  When people started asking me if I was sure I really wanted to return to where I fell, I wasn't even thinking about not going.  It's not Moena's fault, or even then snowboard's.  It was just a freak, weird fall that could have happened getting out of the subway in New York on an icy day.  You get over it.

In addition, there was one big factor at play.  I love Trentino.  I really do.

Apple juice and beer at the Cima Uomo peak at San Pellegrino
The village of Moena
Trentino-Alto Adige is the last region of Italy in the north before you hit Austria, and in some places, it's a little controversial still.  It was part of Austria until 1919, and granted autonomy by Italy in 1948.  One of the reasons autonomy is given is to preserve the unique cultural heritage of these regions, Trentino being a great example of one.  In many parts of the region, German is the native language spoken, and street signs are written in both German and Italian.  Other languages include Ladin, which is not a dialect but a completely different language that over 75% of the town we stayed in, Moena, claims as their mother tongue.  It's incredibly fascinating being in an area that is so full of history and culture, and another reminder of the fact that Italy, as a unified country, is pretty young.  The differences from region to region are astounding, as Trentino is arguably one of the most dramatic examples of a region full of it's own character and happily holding on to it's culture.  I love the accents of the people here.  I love the food, and think it's funny that the New York-German-Jewish-Deli food that I miss so much I can almost find here.  Goulash is one of my favorites, and in Canederli (minus the pork) I see a little bit of Matzah ball soup.  I love the stands of apple vendors on the street.  I love hot mulled wine, smoked speck, and even the really stinky cheese aptly named puzzone, which means, as you can guess "really smelly".  The scenery is, quite literally, breathtaking.  For example, at the San Pellegrino pass, we were over 2000 meters above sea level.  You are on top of the world, looking down at glittering snow.  It's a sunny, white, sparkling dream - though I do wish it was closer.  It's a solid 6 hours in the car from Monterosso.
On the way to Passo Rolle

New Year's Eve was great, as I was able to return to an area of Italy that I enjoy, and show everyone that you can't be scared of freak accidents.  And, most importantly, I rang in 2014 with a close group of friends in a beautiful winter wonderland.

Happy New Year e Buon Anno a tutti!


  1. Beautiful trip and a Happy New year to you!!

  2. Christine,

    I'm happy to hear that you're having such a wonderful holiday in such an incredibly beautiful place. Be sure to stay away from Snowboards! I've visited Castelrotto and that area, so can well appreciate the magnificent scenery in that part of Italy.

    I'd like to wish a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you and your families!

  3. @Ken, I am definitely staying away from snowboards forever. It's interesting, when I arrived at the hospital in Cavalese last year, which is the nearest ER to many of the ski slopes in the Dolomites, and therefore rather well-versed in injuries of this type, the Doctor in charge told me 90% of the fractures she sees beyond the wrist, arm and leg, are snowboards. Hm.

    Happy New Year to you both!

  4. The information provided by the Doctor is definitely consistent with my experience in responding to calls at the local ski hill as an ambulance paramedic. Snowboarders were almost always more seriously injured than skiers, which often required more robust pain management and lots of Entonox!

    I used to ski many years ago but I've never tried snowboarding. This is only conjecture, but I'm assuming the reason for the more serious injuries is the fact that both legs are tied together?