The thing about auronzo di cadore
Photographer natalie mccomas recalls her time in the italian holiday town.
The thing I first noticed: After a winding, hectic drive up from Venice through fairly rugged terrain, we came round a blind mountain corner to see a neon aqua lake beaming right up from the centre of the Auronzo valley. For the next two weeks, I looked out our apartment window multiple times a day, just to catch glittering glimpses of that aqua.
The thing about the locals: There was a laidback feel about the people of Auronzo. Most would nod and greet you as you passed by, and it seemed like they were making the best of being outdoors in the warm summer weather, sunbathing in beach chairs or hiking in the mountains. One day there was a lively group playing cards next to the lake, and they made grand gestures for me to come join in their fun. I loved listening to the rhythm of the Italian accent while they were deep in conversation with each other.
The thing about the colours: Every hour of the day, the mountain colours changed around us. Silver-blue in the early morning, then grey and dusty towards noon. Just as the sun went to bed, they’d turn into fluoro, peachy peaks. There were brightly painted, larger-than-life gelato cone statues on the sidewalks, and profusely blooming pink and red flower boxes hanging from nearly every windowsill and terrace.
The thing about the landscapes: Mount Tudaio watches over the village from the east. Early in the morning, Lake Auronzo was perfectly still, mirroring rows and rows of old pine trees and the towering mountain range that rose steeply behind the village. Auronzo is a short drive to the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site of limestone alps. We hiked into some breathtaking scenery there. The thing about the food: Natural yoghurt-flavoured gelato was a favourite indulgence for me, as was nibbling on forest berries while hiking in the woods. There was plenty of fresh, local produce available, and most nights, dinner was several rounds of hearty food cooked by Aunty Maria. I particularly enjoyed her rabbit stew, lasagne and roast capsicums.
The thing that surprised me: There were multiple water fountains with large, stone basins placed throughout the village, continuously running with chilly, fresh water straight from nearby mountain springs. I spotted neighbours washing their fresh veggies and fruit; we’d fill up our drink bottles for the day. It felt so bizarre to walk away from a running tap you could never turn off. I couldn’t believe how plentiful their water supply must be!
The thing about the architecture: Auronzo is in the northernmost region of Italy, only a short distance from Austria, Germany and Switzerland, so there’s a mixed influence on the architecture. During winter, the village is covered in snow, so the buildings are mostly steep-roofed chalets with slender terraces, small windows and brightly painted timber shutters. The older style residences are charming log cabins with carved details on their timber balconies and little brick chimneys. I would have given anything to peep inside!
The thing I fell in love with: A baby goat in someone’s front yard that I passed most days on my walks into the forest. He had a little bell around his neck and a tiny black kitten in his pen, too. They were best mates, and I had a smile on my face the whole time I watched them frolicking together.