Holidays at last… Letter from Italy, from the Dolomites…

July is the Finns’ “official” month for taking a holiday and so your Editor in Chief is taking 2 weeks hiking in the beautiful mountain area of northern Italy called the “Dolomites”.

Here local folk and their employees work 24/7 for the summer months running hotels, restaurants and shops. They dress the part in traditional clothes and serve up local dishes and drinks in the villages and on top of the mountain in the Hütte.

The houses are either old-fashioned traditional buildings or beautifully modern things, but with lots of finely crafted wooden parts fitted around big sheet glass windows. The old and the new all have large airy balconies and lots of flowers overflowing with greens, reds, whites and blues. Their wood piles are the neatest in Europe with municipal workers actually checking that all wood piles are correctly arranged according to EU regulations.

No trade unions grumble or go on strike because they only have family run places that offer traditional Italian (Sud Tyrol) experiences in the valleys and mountains of this region. There are no monopolies here – just healthy competition.

The rooms of the hotels and apartments have floors, walls, doors, and ceiling that are made from beautifully carved wood without any nails or screws in sight. Curtains and bed linen are made of fine heavy materials – it is a luxury to sit and sleep there.

Hiking, our hobby, is no fun. It is hard and our muscles hurt afterwards. If the sun shines, it is too hot and we burn our heads and necks. If it rains or we have an afternoon thunderstorm, life becomes threatened and we rush back to some shelter.

The bottles of water and extra clothes weigh heavily in our rucksack. We climb for 3 or 4 hours and reach a hütte where we order a radler or fizzy berry drink and polenta or goulash soup. And then, before we have rested enough we must go down, and that is hard on the knees.

Sweat drips into our eyes. The last 10 kilometres is never ending, until at last, it ends and we jump into the car or onto the bus – exhausted. Who would not be after 20 kilometres of going up 1500m and then down again?

But that is the point… Exhaustion brings the proof that we are alive an fit – we have proved to ourselves yet again that we are not dead or over-weight.

There is also another problem with hiking, that age brings. 10 years ago we overtook almost everyone. Now 20-year olds and 30 year olds pass by without puffing. Today one young couple was even running up the path we were coming down.

Mountain runners they should be banned…

Read other news on the city site of Helsinki.

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