Incontri d’alt(r)a quota (other high altitude encounters): now we are stronger (than the rain)

After a summer putting together the pieces of a mosaic, cultivating relations between mountain hut managers, local producers, writers, tourists, valley dwellers, institutions and the media – basically everyone involved in the Dolomites – the time has come to take stock of the event “Other high altitude encounters” held in the mountain huts in the province of Belluno.

Unfortunately the organisers were unable to complete the mosaic due to events beyond their control at the Berti Vallon Popera mountain hut on Saturday 25 August. That day, a walk led by Michelin-starred chef Alessandro Gilmozzi of the El Molin restaurant in Cavalese had been planned to learn more about wild herbs. It was to be followed by him cooking a special dish and a chance to meet some local producers, but the weather unfortunately put pay to all that. So good sense prevailed over the desire to go out with a bang. Looking at the mosaic at the end of the summer, while the final event would certainly have given it that special finishing touch, something regulars at the Berti mountain hut are familiar with, the work of art is, in a sense, complete thanks to the new friendships cultivated between the managers Bruno Martini and Rita Zandonella, chef Gilmozzi and the many first-class producers in the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation network who had offered their products for the event.


The aim of “Other high altitude encounters”, sponsored by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, was to promote events that would attract the public but which involved all the networks who actively manage the World Heritage Site.

The aim was spot-on, as the director of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation Marcella Morandini pointed out at the presentation of the final event at the Belluno head office of Intesa Sanpaolo, sponsor of the event: “We are proud to lend our support to the initiatives of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation which works tirelessly to bring our mountains to life and promote them, even outside Italy” said Rodolfo Laforgia, Retail Director of Intesa Sanpaolo for the Belluno area. “We believe in integration between the different provincial and regional administrations involved in UNESCO recognition” added Ivan Minella, councillor for the Province of Belluno, “our objective is to work together to overcome administrative barriers and promote the Dolomites throughout the world. If we work as a team, we can also export our excellences around the world”.


And that is exactly what happened at each of the meetings held this summer and during the preparations for the final event. At the Galassi mountain hut on 1 July, passion for the adventures of Susan and Alan Boyle, authors of “Spiriti delle Dolomiti” (The Spirits of the Dolomites) who have followed in the footsteps of Amelia Edwards, was mingled with the passion for hospitality and high-altitude living of the volunteers of CAI from Mestre, who take it in turns to manage the mountain hut.

At “Dal Piaz”, on 4 July, the enthusiasm of managers Mirco Gorza and Erica De Bortoli was combined with the brilliance, skill and friendliness of chef Alessandro Gilmozzi who, in turn, took the products from the Belluno area provided by the Foundation’s network of quality producers and turned them into mouth-watering delicacies.

The preparations for the final event followed the same recipe, but with one extra special ingredient: Rita and Bruno’s love for the work they have done over 41 years at the Berti mountain hut.


The decision to repeat the experience of “Other high altitude encounters” was unanimous, so we look forward to seeing you next summer. In the meantime, the networks will continue to work together and we would like to mention all the producers who donated their delicious produce: Società Cooperativa La Fiorita (Cesiomaggiore) for its barley, spelt and the red “bala” bean, Società Agricola Canop (Rivamonte Agordino) for its “schiz” fresh cheese, Bioapicoltura Nonna Giovannina (Calalzo) for its honey, Artigianale del Grillo (San Pietro di Cadore) for its selection of beers, Società Agricola Saliet (Claut) for medicinal flowers and herbs of the Dolomites, Società Agricola Bdè (Casamazzagno) for its cheeses produced in Comelico, Azienda Agricola Malga Campon (Fonzaso) and Malga Pien de Vacia (Selva di Cadore) both for cheese, Azienda Agricola la Sloda (Val di Zoldo) for honey, the company Frescura (Bribano di Sedico) for its Barancino liqueur, and the winery De Bacco of Seren del Grappa for its vertical wines.

Ph. Rifugio Berti