This year we didn’t go to the mountains alone for Christmas. Signor Lu’s cousins decided to come with us. We were happy for them to tag along.
This meant I was skiing with a group of Italians and so I really got a taste for Italian skiing culture.
Speaking of taste, eating was a big part of our holiday. In fact, we ate every meal with the cousins. Since they come from the province of Mantua (prime pig-breeding country), they are great pork-lovers and not lacking in knowledge of how to incorporate pork into almost every meal from prosciutto, to salami, to sausage, to speck (smoked ham), to porchetta (roast pork) to stinco di maiale (pork shanks).
I like eating in the mountains too and fortunately there are always alternatives to pork on most menus (mushrooms, cheese, pizza, fish, winter vegetables). We had many discussions outside eating establishments that went like this: ME: Are there enough pork options for you guys on the menu here? THEM: You could eat here, Lu. There’s more than just pork on the menu.
But if you ask me, the really serious Italian skiers are the ones who bring a packed lunch to the slopes (usually a salami sandwich wrapped in aluminium foil). These people, however, seem to be an endangered species and I see fewer and fewer of them each year.
Opportunistic sunbathers, on the other hand, show no signs of dying out. A few rays of sunshine and they all have their faces turned to the light while exclaiming how wonderful it is to be able to catch up on their tanning. (Me, I smear on more 40+ suncream. I have enough freckles and wrinkles already, thank you.)
Another thing about skiing with a small group of Italians is that they stop a lot on the ski runs for a quick head count, sneaky cigarette, chat or off-piste pee!! (males only, obviously).
And then there’s their new equipment and gear, all purposely designed for skiing. Although Signor Lu is very much an Italian, we only make one ski trip per year, so some of our ski gear is a bit dated. Items which are not dated are those that we rent – skis, poles and boots.
I was quite dazzled by the cousins’ ski apparel and I’m sure I would ski better if I had smarter ski clothes. Actually, I did “invest” in a pair of proper ski goggles with hi-tech lenses, because my ageing sunglasses were just not cutting it!
I had a good time this year and I’m happy to say that the cousins gave our skiing “prowess” a thumbs-up. We appeased them by not out-skiing them (I tried but couldn’t! They were much better than me!!).
There was only one thing that marred the short holiday: on the first night a young local women crashed into both of our parked cars (and a third parked car!) causing quite a lot of damage. Fortunately she owned up and all the necessary paperwork for insurance claims got done; it wasn’t a good start, however, to what was otherwise a very pleasant and relaxing holiday.