by Daniel Loperfido
Before I made it to Italy, I had made it a goal to reach the mountains to snowboard at least a couple of times. Without accurate information, I knew a certain level of dedication would be necessary to reach the “piste” or trails. For my first trip, I went with a friend in our program to the ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. I booked a place online to stay in Trento, or at least I thought I did, and we figured it would be possible to take a relatively short bus to the mountain from there.
When we got to the city however, we learned that our hostel was actually a twenty-five minute bus ride outside the city, and we made the decision to find the tourist information center and try to make a new hotel reservation. The next morning at the bus station we found a bus to the mountain, but while in transit we discovered that it was actually about a two to two and-a-half hour ride to the mountain instead of thirty minutes to one hour. When we finally reached the mountain, we encountered the phenomenon known as a “sciopero” or a strike. Two thirds of the lifts were closed because of a strike on the mountain, but at least we got a severely discounted lift ticket for the day. At the end of it, the day turned out to be a great day of skiing, though it included an exhausting journey back to Padua.
Because I didn’t want my snowboard season to end with just one trip to the mountains, I decided to make a day trip the following weekend. I had heard that Asiago had some good skiing, and I did some research at the bus station to find out how to get to the town. I took an early bus to Vicenza, transferred and got to Asiago, but then I discovered that the bus was dropping me off the center of a mountain town and not at the base of a trail. I asked the bus driver if there was any way to get to a mountain for the day and promptly discovered from the woman next to me that a lot of these “piste” were closed during the week, and that I could be out of luck. In any case, they decided to give me a free lift to the next town of Gallio.
It turned out that this woman had been a teacher at Padua for twenty years and was very impressed with me for trying to get up to the slopes on my own. She took it upon herself to ask around at a local bar she was familiar with if I had any hope, and then took me to a bus stop where in an hour or so a bus would come to take me to a mountain. Though I was going to have a much shorter ski day than planned, I was already extremely grateful that she had taken me this far. She said goodbye, but came running back five minutes later saying she had run into a ski instructor who would take me up to the mountain with him if I went to wait by his car. I did, and he took me up ten minutes after, thus making it possible for me to still have a full day of snowboarding. At lunchtime, I ran into him again at a lodge at the top of the mountain. He was breaking with a group of twenty-somethings from Rome to which he was giving an advanced snowboarding lesson that day, and ended up feeding me lunch and inviting me to spend the rest of my day boarding off trail with them.
Again, it was an exhausting adventure finding a mountain, but nevertheless it was an extremely rewarding cultural and personal experience. My recommendation for the next student who wants to leave Padua to ski would be to plan your trip in advance. Unless of course you like the uncertainty of adventure.
Read other students’ testimonials on their experiences in Padua.