Hi there! Sorry for the long absence, maybe someone imagined that I was on holiday, but no! As the title says, the real whittler doesn’t go on holiday! 😂😂
The reality is that lately my life has been going on in moments of absolute emptiness, in which, nothing moves, and in others in which everything at once happens! I will avoid the long series of rather challenging and inconvenient events that have happened to me. Suffice it to say that they have not made me very happy as they have kept me away from my favourite things like carving wood and talking about it here on the blog.
But today I am here again to delight you with something really nice. We all need a break from time to time, short or long, and so yes, the whittler maybe goes on holiday. But since he doesn’t stop being a wood lover for a second anyway, I found the perfect solution. A recipe for a holiday (or outing) that combines relaxation, sport and, of course, lots of wood. So much for those who tell us that we love a hobby that is too sedentary! 😂😂
I am lucky enough to live not so far from Valle d’Aosta (Italy, Europe) that I can treat myself to a trip out of town from time to time and enjoy the secrets of the valley. I could tell you wonders about this stamp of a region. The mountains stand out high in front of you as soon as you enter the area. Beautiful, imposing, proud. They defend the region like walls and conceal within them a bright green treasure chest, rich in water, nature and history.
Each person can find a different source of interest in taking a holiday in the Aosta Valley, as they say, all they lack is the sea! This territory is obviously very rich in wood and therefore has a solid and wonderful culture linked to carving and woodworking.
One of the easiest ways to get a taste of all this, but also to delight in food and wine products and more, is to take a trip to Aosta on 30/31 January each year (covid permitting… 😔) and see the world-famous Sant’Orso fair. A never-forgotten tradition, which has been organised since the year 1000 for the pleasure of young and old alike, a real full immersion in the local crafts. Start thinking about it by following the link…
For those who have good legs and breath, or who want to try to make it, guided by a firm determination to see the more than 300 wooden statues scattered throughout the route, the obligatory destination is to go to the Mont Fallere refuge. Exactly what I did, in search of relaxation and inspiration!
There are mainly two ways to reach the path leading to the refuge. One is from the village of Flassin (Saint-Oyen) on the road to the Great St Bernard Pass. And the other, better known and ideally more congenial to the route imagined to immerse oneself in Europe’s highest open-air museum, starting from the village of Saint Nicolas, more precisely in the hamlet of Vetan, both of which can be reached from the village of Saint Pierre.
This route leaves the car in a convenient car park near the start of the trail at an altitude of almost 1800 metres. Do not forget that this is a mountaineering-hiking route, so always pay attention to safety. Wear good hiking boots and proper mountain clothing, the hut is at an altitude of almost 2400 metres! For maps, curiosities and other routes I recommend this link. I have consulted this site several times and I can assure you that it is well worth it. It has enabled me to discover some real gems!
The Mont Fallere mountain hut was opened in 2012. It is located in the basin between Mont Fallère, from which it takes its name, and the Monte Rosso di Vertosan in the locality of Les Crottes in the commune of Saint-Pierre, near the Lac des Grenouilles. Born from a visionary idea of the author of almost all the works found in the refuge and on the trail, woodcarving artist Siro Viérin.
This man is a source of inspiration for many who think that you need schools or courses to carve, he started very young, full of passion and totally self-taught. Attracted by the rural and animal world, each of his works encompasses a sense of reality without ever losing sight of an ironic and playful vein.
During his training he decided to take part in some short courses in sculpture and perspective. In 1976 he decided to devote himself entirely to professional sculpture and woodcarving. Every summer he can be found at the Mont Fallere refuge, intent on preparing a new work or on renovating those already on the way.
The ascent to the refuge is not prohibitive, but there are some particularly intense points of ascent, but overall it is doable and a great idea to do this hike with children. There are many animal statues hidden along the way, totally integrated with the surrounding nature. Sometimes they are so real that you are thrilled by an unexpected encounter with the animals that inhabit this region. Or else they are so well concealed that it is impossible to see them all – a good excuse to return several times to round off the collection!
Recently, the whittler artist Siro has set up a real museum of wild animals at the Pavillon, the first SkyWay station on Mont Blanc, all life-size, so that children can familiarise themselves with the images of the wild creatures that live in this incredible area.
His skill with the chainsaw and carving with simple gouges is astonishing. At every step you forget the effort of the hike because you are totally focused on finding the precious sculptures, of all shapes and sizes. You become a child again, a treasure hunt that never ceases to surprise and excite.
Every year the route is enriched with new subjects and so far there are between 300 and 320. Animals, mushrooms, panoramic viewpoints where you can sit back and enjoy the enchantment and the view of this wonderful valley. But the works I appreciate most about Siro are those related to rural life because they show all his vein of humour and irreverence.
There are many human subjects that during the ascent to the refuge blend in as real, and others that show with irony and genius, human, natural situations, in which everyone would like to avoid being seen… during! 😂😂
Then once you arrive at the beautiful hut, you can appreciate not only the panoramic view from the terrace, but also numerous other works that are kept inside. In this idyllic place you can of course stay and enjoy beautiful excursions and various other activities that are often organised.
I am basically a lazy person, but I can assure you that I would have walked twice as far. It’s a priceless experience. And it’s free. A unique way of making art accessible to everyone, this is proof that you can do everything with and for love. Thank you Siro for giving us all this! Have a good trip everyone!
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