It’s the 15 minutes between 6:45 and 7:00 am that Modesto Alverà treasures the most. “These are the only moments in a day when we all sit together around the table,” he says. Fifteen minutes before everybody else’s breakfast; bread, butter and all the other good things are ready, everybody is up and shining bright. Soon the first guests will come down from the upper floor and take place in the dining room where coffee and tea are already waiting for them. In the kitchen, everything is running smoothly. Business as usual. Even the baby monitor has its designated place by the window. While preparing breakfast, Modesto and Monica can hear their three-months-old grandchild babble away.
Modesto, his wife Monica and their six children run the Croda dal Lago mountain hut at 2,046 metres above sea level in the Alps of Cortina d’Ampezzo. When they started back in 1994, three of their children who now all work here weren’t even born. The house, however, has seen a few decades already: It was built in 1901.
The hut is the third oldest in the region, and Modesto wants people to feel the place’s history when they come in. That is why the Alveràs strive to preserve the house’s original character and atmosphere. It’s no easy task. On the one hand, guests have the demands and expectations of this time and age; on the other hand, everyone wants to experience the charm of the old, sparse and original when coming to a place like this. At Croda dal Lago, hot water in the shower, good food and WiFi do not disturb the qualities of the old and traditional. The Alveràs made this place as comfortable as necessary while keeping it as original as possible. In terms of new constructions, they only added a Finnish sauna, a hexangular wooden building that you see first when you look up to the hut from the path below. Sweating with a lake view, does it get any better than that?
The lake, Lago Federa, is home to fish, mollusks and alpine amphibians. In good weather and light, its surface is dark and smooth and perfectly reflects the grey and silver summits surrounding it. Whether you take a walk around it, sit down on its shore or just watch it from the hut’s terrace, the lake exudes tranquillity, soothes hearts, clears minds and brings serenity.
Its tranquillity is also reflected in Modesto Alveràs personality, as is his given name, Modesto, the modest. Modesto is one who prefers to stay in the background, spending his days looking after the wellbeing of his guests. In peak season, there’s plenty to do for him, his family and all other employees. “We have to take care of everything. The guests, the 51 beds we have, the daily supply of food and other goods. And if something breaks it’s our job to fix it,” he says. He doesn’t mind, he adds, there’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his guests happy.
Said guests are outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, skiers, parents who take their kids tobogganing in winter. “This year we had visitors from 33 countries; English people, Germans, Americans, Koreans and many, many more,” Modesto tells us. The Dolomites draw them from all corners of the world, and if you hike up to 2,000 metres above sea level, it is clear to see why. They are just massive, and stunningly beautiful.
For more than 20 years, Modesto Alverà has been admiring Croda dal Lago, Cristallo, Sorapiss und Becco di Mezzodì, the pinnacles, summits and mountain chains surrounding him. His favourite season is autumn, where nature shows its most beautiful colours and the sun still shines warmly – on the Alveràs and their hut by the lake.
July 12, 2017