You would almost forget it, but above Lake Garda lies another world, one of steep grass plains, old defensive lines and viewpoints. Don’t forget the hearty goulash and homemade grappa either. Time for a week-long mountain lodge trek through this ‘other Garda’.
Around lunchtime we arrive at the Rifugio Permici where we meet Marco, our host, a young man with hair so red that if he stuck his head out of the window on a clear day he would be visible from the valley below. In his arms he carries a baby, barely a year old and already accustomed to the daily rhythms of life in the mountain lodge: the lunchtime the chaos of day hikers, then followed by the relative peace of deeper conversations with those staying overnight during dinner. It is the same merciless rhythm that ties down Marco and his family to the mountain. He has been walking around with a broken finger for weeks, but there has been no time to descend down into the world of the living. What is his solution therefore? A piece of wood and a roll of tape is enough for the time being.
The Crown of Garda: three circular hiking trails in the northern part of Lake Garda
Tranquility, love, war, peace
All around the chalet are former trenches and ruins, here and there a forgotten piece of barbed wire. Sections of the Top Loop form part of the Sentiero della Pace, the Peace Trail, a hiking trail measuring 500km in length that connects important sites from the First World War. The day before we had flicked through Marco’s photo albums: pictures of snowed in yet proud soldiers on lonely mountainsides.