Mascognaz, snow and starry skies
Mascognaz is one of the Ayas Valley’s 35 towns at 1,800 meters of altitude. It is also a wonderful albergo diffuso (a virtual hotel solution with accommodations spread in an area, instead of concentrated in a single building) that belongs to “that ancient world” of the “eternal winter that dominated summer pastures”, so beautifully described by novelist Paolo Cognetti in his “Le otto montagne”, winner of the 2017 Strega Award.
Cognetti has said his book was inspired by the summer holidays of his own childhood, when his father would sit down for dinner “dusty, sunburnt, tired and happy” after trekking, and “tell stories about chamois and ibex, nights out camping, starry skies, and snow that up high could fall even in August.”
“I found him happy and vibrant,” Cognetti writes, “the exact opposite of the city-dwelling father I was used to. He was happy to show me the map and teach me how to read it. This is a river, he pointed out, this is a lake, and this is a group of cabins. Different colors help you set apart the woods, the mountain prairies, the screes, the glaciers. These curved lines mark the altitude: the more close together they are the steeper the slope, to the point climbing becomes impossible; here, where the lines are further apart, the incline is softer and there are trails, see? These points marked with an altitude are mountaintops. That’s where we go. We come down only when we reach a place from where we cannot climb up any further. Do you understand?” (translated from P. Cognetti, “Le otto montagne”, Einaudi, Milan 2017).
If you want to understand too, simply visit Mascognaz and stay at one of the gorgeous chalets of the Hotellerie de Mascognaz.