Sonia, the Brenta Dolomites' woman
In 1989 when Sonia married Umberto, she did not acquire only a husband but a complete lifestyle. Her parents-in-law, Ettore and Ines, had built the Rifugio La Montanara mountain hut in 1973, on the Pradel Alpine plateau, and after the wedding this became a central part of Sonia's life. “I immediately liked both the work and the location,” recounts Sonia. “I still find the panorama breath-taking thirty years later. And I love being able to wander into the trees and breathe some fresh forest air, even when I only have ten minutes of free time.”
The family expanded in 2002 with the adoption of Nabin and Sangita from Nepal, and then in 2004 Consuelo was born. “Our life blossomed. From a couple we became a family and this inspired us even more to develop the business and keep improving every day.”
“In the mornings we get up and have breakfast, we light the fires and prepare food for the guests who have stayed the night with us,” continues Sonia. “Overall our work is not so different from anyone working in catering in the village, we welcome guests at all times of the day for lunch, dinner, or a coffee break. The difference lies in working in a place where, when you open a window, you are not greeted with a jungle of brickwork and concrete, but instead the most majestic peaks of the Brenta Dolomites, a world heritage site, while the forest is always only a few steps away.”
“I appreciate this most in the morning when I wake up, and just before going to bed. No matter how early or late it is, or how cold, every morning and every evening I take five minutes to go out onto the terrace, take a deep breath of fresh air and admire the surrounding nature. A coffee on the balcony as soon as you wake up is an indispensable ritual for a good start to the day.”
Umberto's routine instead involves descending to the village each morning, and when the snow is deep he travels by snowmobile or snowcat. “We buy fresh products directly from the shops every day, bread and milk, meat and vegetables. We try to only use products from Trentino in our cooking whenever possible, in order to get the best from our traditional recipes.”
Our dedication and care in our cooking, combined with mountain hospitality, are much appreciated by the people who stop at the hut, and they often return year after year to enjoy Umberto and Nabin's dishes. “I remember once when the cable lifts were closed, one customer walked up on foot, specifically because he wanted a slice of our almond and ricotta cheese cake.”
Over the years young children who visited the Montanara return to visit Sonia as adults, together with their new families, “They ask whether I remember them, they tell me how they came with their parents decades ago, and now they are married and with children. And so the cycle continues.”
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