06 March 2014

snowmaggedon or how we came to be the owners of catene da neve

Plans to try out cross country skiing were thwarted by the weather Saturday. Snow. In the mountains. Lots of it. Going sideways much of the day. Only, this wasn't just any snow, Folgaria received record amounts of wet snow, so much that local officials had difficulty keeping up clearing the roads.

As we returned to Passo Coe to pick up Young One from her ski lesson in the afternoon, we faced a snow-covered road, uphill.  

Years ago Richard made the decision (after encouragement from a neighbor) to switch to snow tires each winter; I've always wondered if it was an unneeded extravagance, but as we were progressing nicely in the mess, I became certain that these were a good investment.

She had an impromptu lesson in "survival skiing." If we made it up, surely we could make it down.

And just as we made if off the most treacherous part of the mountain with everyone safe and warm, just as we were two minutes from our apartment, just as someone in the car boldly claimed, "We made it!" we stalled. We slipped, we slid, we shimmied, we shook. We did not make it. We were not making it. But..we. were.so.close.

But can I tell you?
We kept our cool. We held our shit together, so much that not even one curse word was uttered! Richard patiently took my direction as he tried to back the wagon down the snowy hill. I calmly dodged the other vehicles racing up the hill. (Do you know that trick? The "gun it" trick when navigating snow-covered roads?! Put the pedal to the metal and hold on!)

Richard volunteered to go for help, to brave the unforgiving climate, the snowstorm of the century, to seek out assistance, in whatever form it might arrive. 

I stayed with the two children, watching in awe as car after car after car, including MANY Fiat's made it up the hill.

And soon after he left, the Vigili del Fuoco stopped.

Hello, ma'am. Do you have chains?
My husband went to get them.
Does he have the tire size?
Can you put the chains on the car?
We hope so.
We will return.

This is a literal transcript of the conversation. It was, of course, in Italian. This was not a man of many words, this mountain fireman.

And after an adventure of his own in getting these chains, Richard returned at nearly the same time that they did. They put the chains on. Gave us a little lesson. And sent us on our way ... 100 Euro poorer & the proud owner of whatever chains the gas station had in stock, but finally able to make it up the hill, after a two hour delay.

And Sunday morning we woke to this beautiful sight!

This weekend we are returning with a few small tokens of thanks for the kind people who got us home safely, which extended beyond the two firemen.

People are good. People are kind.
Yes they are.
I know it.


  1. So glad you are safe! Nothing like a pair of chains to save the day! So much snow! Wow! I didn't realize you neighborhood got this kind of snow. Beautiful!

    1. Oh, goodness! This is not our neighborhood. This is in the mountains about 90 minutes away. While snow storms were bombarding this area, my neighborhood saw its first spring blossoms.

  2. we are the proud owners of snow tires, and have lost one of our chains in a storm last year. we didn't even notice it, so apparently we didn't need it, as the tire person keeps telling us: *his* snow tires are all we need. (fortunately, we haven't had a chance to test his theory: no snow this winter!).

    1. Yep. That's our story too...except this snowfall was exceptional and required the chains as well. A local also explained the Fiats. He told us that skinny tires are much better for the snow and will beat out the bigger cars any day. Hmmmm.... he's lived there his entire life. He's a man in the know; he has a tractor, for goodness sake. Still...I'm not taking the Fiat to the mountains.