At 1579 meters above the sea level, in the old municipalità of Ligonchio, now called Ventasso, the refuge Carpe Diem lies in the shadow of mount Cavalbianco.
The refuge look after the Pradarena Pass since the 1950ies.
Since the 1950ies the Carpe Diem has affirmed its characteristic of a welcoming place, where meet people and find a shelter.
Here there is the meeting between different stories and cultures: one from Garfagnana (Tuscany) that is biting and sometimes contentious and the other from Emilia that is more mild – mannered and obliging.
Then I, Arianna, am here since 2016 when I decided to take care of this family heritage and to start to manage the Carpe Diem (I really believe that at the beginning the refuge was managing me!)
Bar, restaurant and hotel today as 50 years ago still host local people and not only them, but mainly visitors from the city, who run away from the urban chaos and come here to loose themselves in the wonderful nature of this part of the Apennine that offers breath-taking panoramas every season of the year.
Thanks to the re-discover, in the last few years, of slow tourism hiking lovers look at Pradarena Pass as a crossing point for the most difficult excursions, a starting point for the easiest ones and an arrival point where joining unforgettable days into the wild.
During winter the landscape changes and the paths host visitors with snow-shoes, skiers (recently made deforestation works allows the promotion of routes for cross-country ski), snow lovers, families with children, groups of friends etc…
As frame work of this multi-colored and sometimes noisy comings and goings there always is “the warrior” (as I call it), the Carpe Diem that opens its doors to everybody all year long.
In the early morning the smell of Roberto’s tarts spreads from the kitchen and attracts the early birds hikers.
The bar is open all the day from breakfast to happy hours. If the restaurant is closed, light lunches are always provided. The bar closes after dinner to allows people to sleep quietly.
Our restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and offers traditional dishes of the both the Tuscan and Emilian cuisines carefully prepared with local products.
In this field the farm “Le Comunaglie”, another business run by our family and placed in the village of Cinquecerri, helps us a lot.
Since 2003 this farm raises chianina, an Italian cattle breed, with a BIO method and provides the Carpe Diem mainly with meat, but also with potatoes, spelt (cereal and transformed in pasat), jams, mushrooms, chestnuts and vegetables.
From these raw materials we create our specialties.
Barbecued meat, boiled meat, stew with the famous cornmeal mush from Garfagnana called “fermenton otto file”, roasts and furthermore tarts with “pergialon”, an ancient pear that ripens in September, becomes yellow and falls on the ground where can be picked up and transformed into delicious jams.
Our chianina ragù is used in the lasagna and as a sauce for the potatoes tortelli and the tortelli with spinach/herbs.
In addition to the traditional menu, the cooker has added dishes with new tastes, related to the seasonality, such as “potatoes dumpling with sausage and chicory, tagliolini with yellow pumpkin and crunchy bacon”.
At the Carpe Diem we organize themed events and dinner and afternoon with live music. Two of the most well-known are “La cena romana” and “Il pesce d’alta quota”
Last but not least our hotel with 5 bedrooms, of which 3 standard rooms and 2 suites.
The standard rooms are large, with bathroom, located at the first floor and overlook the mount Asinara.
The suites are place at the second floor (attic), equipped with a big bathroom, a bath tub and a small wooden balcony
The rooms are suitable for medium and long term stay, while for the “fast” overnights of the hikers, at the ground floor there are 3 additional rooms, equipped as a refuge, that can host 16 people maximum.
Totally the hotel can host 25 guests.
Reach the altitude, here on the ridge, is like doing a big jump.
Here the journey is at the discovery of new cultures, surrounded by nature, of ancient traditions, of ancient routes that come back to life through the eyes of modern hikers.
Here you can smell the sea scent and in the clear days you can see the Alps plow the plain under.
Despite the vastness of the surrounding spaces it looks easy to arrive everywhere in a second, to be part of a vast common cultural reality, but when you turn around and look down then you feel to be strongly connected with the Apennine area of Reggio Emilia.