After the buzz of the Venice Architecture Biennale (the debate around Rem Koolhaas’ radical Fundamentals show is really thrilling!) it felt time for a change of pace. So I decided to head back to the Dolomites, to the magical Cortina d’Ampezzo. This is the place the Pink Panther slinked about in the classic 1963 movie, and where Roger Moore (aka James Bond) slalomed away from the bad guys in For Your Eyes Only (1981). To me, it’s like an alpine Sardinia, so incredibly glamorous – it’s as if you’ve stepped into a Slim Aarons picture, but perhaps a little more health-consciously. High up, so far away from the crowds, ‘prana’ (the life force yogis have always felt is stronger at higher altitudes) comes into play, it’s palpable. Each breath feels monumental. Funnily enough, I even found a restaurant named after a place in Sardinia – Porto Rotondo – filled with these incredible photos of 1970s glam!
The glam at these altitudes is all well and good, but what we really wanted to do – was hike! So me, Miranda and the boys began a daily regime of 3 to 6 hour walks at increasingly steep inclines. It’s so simple – you chat, soak up the landscape in, imbibe the pure alpine air, drink from pristine mountain streams. The worldly grind of daily life seems all of a sudden (in fact is!) so far away. We took our lunches at high mountain ‘rifugios’, rugged country stuff, incredibly honest fare. Doing this kind of thing is nourishing not just for the body, but for the mind, the soul. Of note is the Rifugio Senes, a restaurant and accommodation for hikers, at 7000 ft. We stayed a night there, a surreal – but oh so real experience! I can’t recommend it enough. To hike through these mountains which had been such a terrain of contestation between the Italians and the Austro-Hungarians in WWI, now so serene with eternal wild flowers and meandering streams, is sheer magic.