To get away from the hassle of having to experience the last stages of my employer’s move from a spacious office to one about two thirds smaller in Geneva, I took Thursday 18 and Friday 19 April off and went to northern Italy with my father and my wife.

My father’s initial intention for this trip was to persuade his brother to come back with him to his house in France and stay a couple of days with him and enjoy spring there (both are retired). However, this plan had to be abandoned as my uncle had a heart attack on Tuesday; fortunately, he survived but he had to stay in hospital during our short stay in northern Italy (he was released only two days ago).

As another member of the family (i.e. my father’s sister) was in hospital too, we decided that for once we would not be rushing to our destination (Val di Non in Trentino Alto Adige) and that we would stop as many times as we would wish to do so.

So that once on the Italian side of Monte Bianco (or Mont Blanc in French), we stopped at Courmayeur. We had some cappuccinos and some delicious pastries at a beautifully decorated tea room before stepping into a sport shop, where I bought the following running accessories:

Zamberlan steel chain with crampons on a pari of Mizuno running shoes

This is the description of the product by its manufacturer, the Italian company Zamberlan:

Extremely resistant stainless steel snow chains suited to walking and running on snowy and icy ground. The properties of the elastic band remain unaltered in temperature reaching up to 50°C below zero. They are easy to put on and will fit any style of footwear. Their unique structure combines chains and spikes that adhere to ice and/or other terrain and minimize articular and muscular fatigue. They stay clean due to their organic and dynamic movement.

But why did I want to buy steel chains with small crampons? This is because I intend to take part in the following race in September: Collontrek. This race, which will be held for the third time this year, is held every two years across the mountainous region in between Switzerland and Italy that separates the valleys of Hérens and ValpellineCollontrek is supposed to follow the unofficial trade route (most often used by smugglers) between these two valleys, whose course also runs across a glacier.

Collontrek_website_as accesssed on 25 April 2013

Although we stopped twice along the motorway and even at a smaller village on Lake Garda, Torri del Benaco, before reaching a town we are very fond of, Riva del Garda, it was only when we where at the latter that I thought of taking a few shots [click to enlarge]:

Riva del Garda_18 April 2013

Centre Riva del Garda_18 April 2013

Centre Riva del Garda_18 April 2013

Centre Riva del Garda_18 April 2013_b

Then we continued without a stop until we reached Val di Non:

Driving to Val di Non_18 April 2013

However, we arrived at Cles, the main town in the Val di Non, only to find that the shops were about to close, so too late to look for the other running accessory I wanted to buy.

This is why we decided to drive to Madonna di Campiglio, a famous ski resort in the Dolomites, about 40km from my father’s village, the following day (Friday).

Madonna di Campiglio_skiing map_19 April 2013

However, the skiing season was over and the summer season had not yet started, so that almost all shops were closed and I was unable to go into a mountaineering shop. However, it was nice to be back at Madonna di Campiglio as my last trip to this resort must have been more than 15 years ago …

Madonna di Campiglio_19 April 2013

Towards the end of the lake (summer) ice ring (winter) at Madonna di Campiglio_19 April 2013

Piazza Elisabetta di Wittelsbach_Madonna di Campiglio_19 April 2013

A board explaining why the square behind was named in honour of the Empress Elisabeth of Wittelsbach (who was murdered in Geneva – see the entry I wrote on my run along the quayside of Genava in winter).

So we drove back to the valley of Non. However, while driving through the main town of that valley (so the one closest to my father’s village of birth), my eyes noticed a shop which seemed to be selling running as well as mountaineering equipment. And indeed they had what I had been looking for:

Pair of Ferrino walking or running poles

A pair of lightweight and foldable Ferrino walking/running poles. Very light (some 240gm), they will prove handy for my runs in the mountains when performing training sessions in preparation for the Aletsch half-marathon or Zierre-Zinal.

The vilage of Proveis (or Proves in Italian) in the German-spaking part of Trentino Alto Adige_19 April 2013

As I had found what I was looking for, we were free to be able to enjoy a place higher up in the mountains, the village of Proveis, where German is still being spoken (unlike the Swiss German dialects I have heard a lot over the past few years, this one is not harsh and guttural):

Bilingualism at Proveis or Proves_19 April 2013

As it rained on Friday evening, plus on Saturday as well as a large chunk of Sunday, I went running only once during my four-day break. This week I have been running only once; as such, I doubt I shall be able to do better for this edition’s of the 20km de Lausanne on Saturday.

Entries posted on my wife’s blog related to this trip: