Mountain Refuge near Courmayeur just reopened for summer
Recently I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite places, Courmayeur, Mont Blanc, Italy. I stay often at the Hotel Berthod and with my mixture of work and play it is indeed a pleasurable time. This time, Alessio, who with his family owns the Berthod told me about a refugio (mountain refuge hut) that his wife opened very recently. The location is in the Grand St Bernard mountain range, above the village of Gignod in the Aosta Valley. The name of the refuge is Rifugio Chaligne. Alesio suggested a dinner visit. Great idea I thought so with two friends Francesca, a local lass and Dick, an American, off we went to sample the cullinary fare of the mountains. The trip up was an experience, but as things turned out, worth every effort. The Rifugio Chaligne is situated on the road to the Tunnel of the Grand St. Bernard and lies about halfway between that and Aosta, the valley's capital.
is, however not as simple as it sounds. Either on the drive up from
Aosta or down from the Grand St Bernard the visitor leaves the main
road when a sign is spotted for a village called Buthier. There one
follows a very good road for a couple of Kms until you reach the end
of the paved road and a sign that warns that if you have no official
work to do, do not drive past this point. This is where we separate
the wheat from the chaff, as it were. Then dear reader you have the
option of walking (snowshoeing in winter) or calling the owner,
Moria, and snivle for a ride up. I would be in the snivler's
brigade, let me tell you. The walk along an unpaved road is marked
at taking an hour and about twenty minutes. Oh yeah? Perhaps if you
are Lance Armstrong. Anyway as Alessio was on official business so
we proceeded by car. This place is nothing short of a paradise. It
is a heaven and feels like it. Surrounded by stunning mountain
ranges, including the Matterhorn, the view from the balcony is
breathtaking. But I move too fast, I'm still excited. Upon arrival
we are greeted by trout jumping around in a beautiful natural pond.
Are they frenzied by the thrill of the visit from such socialites or
at the fear of being on the menu? Inside, the Rifugio, although
almost unchanged for at least a century, shows the care and love
that went into the restoration.