Sunday, July 22nd
(Continued from previous page)
Dripping, blood-like letters on a big boulder pointed the way down to the
Rifugio Torrani. It was a tiring scramble down to the rifugio, but it
was short, and soon we saw the slanted roof of the rifugio sticking out
from the rock of the mountain. The Rifugio is a small place, long and
narrow, tucked into a hollowed out shelf on the southeastern aspect of
Civetta's summit at an altitude just below 10,000 feet (around 3,000m).
With cloud now shrouding the summit down to below this level, it was quite
cool - even cold, and our group looked forward to a warm cozy spot and our
All of us initially mistook the main sleeping area for the free 'bivacco'
section, but after quickly noticing that the rest of the building
contained the caretaker's quarters and a maintainence shed and then ended,
we realized that this is a teeny little place, and that initial room was
We entered, presented ourselves, and then picked unused bunks for
ourselves. The room was actually pretty cozy, panelled in warm-looking
wood and with a cast-iron stove on one end.
There were five other people
in the rifugio - three Italian men from Ravenna, and a Czech couple. Up
in one corner of the dorm room was a narrow red door which led to the
combination bathroom and slipper storage area. The smell emanating from
that corner of the room was, um..., less than pleasant.
The Rifugio Torrani is manned by a single caretaker. Our particular
caretaker was a little quirky. Quiet, with a big head of dark curly hair
and a slightly hooked nose, he reminded me a little of Roberto Benigni -
except with more and longer hair. He had a very un-Benigni like
personality, though. His requests and his responses were terse,
businesslike. He would appear in the dorm room in the briefest, most
efficient manner possible, bringing out a drink or answering a question,
and then would immediately disappear back into his quarters. Maybe he
picked this remote, hard-to-access little mountain hut for a reason?
We quickly warmed up to the little common dorm room, both physically and
socially. The three Italian men proved to be cheerful and friendly.
Paolo, Georgio, and Stefano were their names, and via their limited
english and my passable Italian, we managed to chat about many things that
night. Even the Czech couple were talkative (their english was pretty
Dinner was a mixed affair. The first course, a basic spaghetti with a
ragu sauce, was excellent. Although there is often some choice on the
menus in these rifugios, our caretalker informed us that only Polenta (a
corn-meal mush affair) was available for the second course. We had big
appetites from our long climb, and all of us agreed to give it a shot,
although not without a bit of trepidation. The slab of polenta and fried
cheese that was served to us was, I admit, difficult to stomach, but Jenn
and Daryl found it doubly so, to the point of involuntary retching. It
wasn't so bad, really. I think the most important thing is to wrap your
mind around the texture of the stuff. The stomach will then follow.
The so-so dinner was followed, however, by an excellent dessert of Panna
cotta, bathed in a thin caramel sauce. A little bit like an Italian
version of creme brule, but without the brule. Mmm. mmm. mm-mm. Fan-tastic, and I savored every morsel of it. Daryl thought it was pretty
excellent, too - a good recovery from the barfiness of the polenta.
After dinner, we had more animated chats with the Ravenna trio, then
settled in for the night. It was cold outside, hovering around the
freezing mark, but inside we were warm and toasty.
If you'd like to read more about the Ferrata degli Alleghesi, please click here
to go to my dedicated Via Ferrata page's route description.