“A freshly squeezed orange juice, please.” This is just one of the requests (and by no means the strangest) addressed to mountain hut managers over the course of last summer. As winter begins, we like to see what can be learnt from the many interviews carried out during the second season of Noi Dolomiti UNESCO. These were often focused on the need to educate mountain-goers to respect safety standards, to be aware of the environment in which they find themselves, and to have a proper attitude when eating or sleeping in a facility that cannot – and should not – provide the same quality standards as a hotel.
The role of mountain hut managers has already been extended by the need to learn a variety of languages and to explain the values of our geological and landscape heritage to tourists from many parts of the world. It is made even more complex by the need to make visitors aware of where they are, and of the difficulties entailed in living and working at height; to help them adopt reasonable expectations towards the services provided and to see what opportunities lie in knowing how to adapt and how to renounce certain comforts, and to focus instead on enjoying the unique character of the mountain environment.