Opportunities – especially those that arise unexpectedly and out of the blue – are there to be grabbed. The most recent to offer itself found me and a friend rushing to catch the last chairlift. A chairlift that would take us 3000m high to a rifugio encompassed by the rocks, away from civilisation and completely paid for by a guest who had offered this night because he could no longer attend. All we had to do was turn up.
As far as Rifugios in the Dolomites go, this one had a certain charm about it. Size, in this case, certainly did matter and with it being able to sleep a maximum of only 20, it felt quaint and homely. The wooden exterior blended perfectly with the limestone rock and its precarious position made you question who in the first place thought it would be an ideal place for a hut. But it doesn’t take long to realise why. The 360 degree views are breathtaking and the location allows for easy access to two very exposed Via Ferrata – one of which will take you to the summit of Cima di Mezzo (3,154m) and across the longest suspension bridge in the Dolomites at 27m in length!
(Unfortunately in our haste to get there, we forgot our kits and were unable to tick these VF’s off our list.. this time). Once that lift closed there was no way down except via the VF until the next day – a reassuring feeling that we were all alone on that mountain.
The interior was aesthetically pleasing and full of odd trinkets. I don’t think I have ever stepped into a rifugio that didn’t display taxidermy and this was no exception – who ever decided deer hooves would make for good coat hangers?
Our room was perfect; small, colourful, empty and with a view to die for. There was no shower and water was at a minimum but a hearty meal with 2 choices per course was on offer despite being so remote.
And how could I fail to mention the people? Our hosts for the evening Maria (a smiley Italian lady who served our table and made us feel incredibly welcome) and Matias (the cheeky lift-operator who enjoyed exchanging Italian words for English) whose company was enjoyed over shots of ‘Latte di Camoscio’ or ‘Milk of Chamois’ until the lack of electricity sent us to bed for lights out.
Just when I thought I had experienced all this had to offer, I woke at 5am to peer out to a beautiful blue sky. The initial reluctance to climb out of bed gave way to a refreshing feeling as I peered down at the cloud inversion and across to the sun peeking its head out on the horizon. I took a picture and sighed; Welcome to Rifugio Lorenzi.