Lift facilities and future regrets

If the Veneto Region were to focus on existing lift facilities rather than build new ones, we may avoid future regrets.

Trust me – I’d like nothing better than to speak of positive things. And yet, I feel the urge to involve my readers, who aren’t tourists or clients – but guests. I believe it necessary that our guests know what is going down in our community.

The Dolomites are in the spotlight due to a new, much talked about public project: the construction of new cable cars between Val Zoldana/Alleghe and Cortina, via the Giau and Falzarego mountain passes.

When it comes to making money, people can be exceptionally creative. That very same creativity vanishes into thin air as soon as we must find solutions to tackle the climate and migration crises.

This new project is absurdity personified: I tremble at the mere thought of seeing new cable cars in the Col di Lana area, near the Sella del Sief to be precise. Its’ a breathtakingly beautiful area, a melancholic, sorrowful beauty scarred by World War I, a wildland left to its own devices even during summer.

The project isn’t a new one, but previous iterations had been brushed to the side as they were going to be implemented in protected areas. But the scheme which granted them protection, the Veneto Region’s “Piano Neve” (Snow Plan), expired at the end of 2023. The new plan allows for the construction of countless new lift facilities and ski slopes. Business and money make the world go around, after all.

Mountain tourism is a wellspring of wealth. And, sure, investing millions of the taxpayer’s money to create lift facilities which will then be leveraged by businesses seems to be a good idea. Let’s entertain that notion.

But – wouldn’t it be more useful for the community to focus on good hospitality, first? Cortina is a bastion of hospitality – but the Cadore area is in need of some serious tender, loving care. If the Veneto Region were to refurbish the already existing lift facilities, rather than build new ones? We could avoid crying over spilt milk in the future when it’s already too late.

The 2026 Winter Olympics are just around the corner, and they are a harbinger of mistakes which should all make us very much ashamed.

In other words: exercises in demagogy are money-making endeavours for the Veneto Region. After all, Belluno and its neighbouring mountains – which are tackling environmental problems the likes of the aftermath of the 2018 Vaia storm and the European spruce bark beetle infestation– are the ‘Cinderella’ project of all the provinces in Veneto.

The attempt of masquerading this operation as green is grotesque. It’s being sold as improving mobility by leaps and bounds, when we could find more targeted, and urgent, initiatives such as reactivating abandoned trainlines and ring roads for many inhabited villages.

The greenwashing put forth by the Veneto Region is laughable, even though all I want to do is sit down and cry. They’re adding insult to the environmental injury by taking away the mountains from the people who truly love and live them. The musings of a hopeless romantic? Maybe, but that’s just the way I am.

Incidentally, wouldn’t it be high time that we reevaluate the UNESCO labeland if it has stood the test of time? We’ve been talking about this for ages, too.

A few weeks ago, a shark was projected on the rocky face of the Cinque Torri. An action which reflects the journey taken by a tourism industry disconnected from the environment: the tourist-consumer is the favourite prey of this shark. Who knows, if we’re not careful enough our Dolomites could become the canvas for many more brands displayed on their rocky walls, akin to those found in bustling Piccadilly Circus.

Dear guests, don’t purchase any items with that shark logo on them!

I keep on reading the newspapers, where I can see plenty of ads for two neighbouring regions: Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The ads mix Italian and English, trying to sell the idea of a sliver of heaven on Earth, using the pictures of the Dolomites to sell Italian products which have got nothing to do with this area, such as prosecco. Marketing at its very worst. I’m not against good communication, but using words as a tool to make propaganda, of any kind? That’s just not my cup of tea.

Let me finish with a quote, something said by Socrates to Phaedrus.

‘O dear Pan and all the other gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within.’

What a beautiful sentiment – one which, hopefully, can lift us up to achieving absolute beauty. A utopia? Yet everyone should give it a try.