Friday, January 6, 2012

Epifania ad Osservatorio Astronomico Montereale Valcellina

On the eve of Epifania, every village hereabout has a big bonfire or falò.  Villagers gather round the inferno and have pan e vin or bread and hot wine.  The wood is mostly fir, so lots of pops and flare ups, and the whole pile is laced with firecrackers to add to the fun.  Little children run round and round in a pyromaniacal trance.  At the top a witch, Brutta Befana is burnt in effigy, in nostalgia for the good old days of the Inquisition.

The next morning all the surrounding cars and homes are blanketed in ash like a volcanic eruption.  Normally the collective smoke from all the villages hangs in a blue pall over the region, but luckily a cold front rolled in overnight and blew all the smoke away.   So it was quite clear this morning, though windy with gusts above 40 kph.  I decided to take a short ride,  and there is none shorter than Osservatorio Astronomico Montereale, which is only a 5 km warm up to start of climb, 5 km of climbing from 300 to 687 meters, and back home.

It was chilly so overheating wasn't a problem.  The climb felt great and the view was beautiful.  A little snow on the road above 650 meters but not bad.  When I returned to our cortile my neighbors' visiting granddaughter called out "Buona Epifania, Bill!" Very sweet.

The osservatorio with mountains in background

Mountains along the Slovenian border 

Close up Monte Canin (2587m)

Beautiful snow-capped range to the northeast

Windblown snow-plume atop Pala d'Altei (1528m)

The falò at Grizzo still burning 14 hours later- the stump is all
that remains of the center pole, a fir tree maybe 15 meters high

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