Story: A tub at 1,870 metres above sea level

Admiring the mountains close to the sky

Spending a night in a cabin on the mountains of Ticino is a unique experience. The satisfaction of catching sight of the cabin roof, the well-deserved drink sipped at the stone table, the tasty dinner of polenta in good company with the stars so clear and close. And then the dawn that illuminates the mountains giving you new energy to continue your hike.

Here we are at 1,870 metres a.s.l., at the top of Blenio Valley just beyond Olivone, where Capanna Bovarina UTOE dominates the valley. You can observe from above Campo Blenio and the Luzzone dam, breathe the fragrant and pure mountain air and look straight into the sun.

THE CHARACTER

Yvonne and Loris Sonzogni, cabin keepers of the Capanna Bovarina UTOE

Yvonne and Loris Sonzogni, cabin keepers of the Capanna Bovarina UTOE
It's an excellent position: we're the only refreshment point between two hikes. Hikers arriving here just want to relax.

The two cabin keepers watch us as we come up the path winding through trees, ferns and - with a little luck - mushrooms. A vivacious, friendly and smiling couple who immediately make you feel at home, aided by the beautiful scenery, the tranquillity and the enthusiastic greetings of Mia, a 10-year-old English setter that has been with Yvonne and Loris right from the start in their ridge-top adventure. But how did this all start?

Loris used to work in insurance and then one day he lost his job. But, after his initial shock, that hard blow was followed by an idea: why not realise his long-cherished dream and open a grotto or a restaurant? And why not an alpine cabin?

So, while Yvonne continued to work in a shop in Prosito, in 2011, Loris began a series of internships in alpine cabins all over Switzerland: Schwyz, Valais, Grisons. The objective? To understand what not to do in their own cabin, starting from the relationship with guests: they are people, not numbers! Then, on completing his apprenticeship, everything went quickly.

“On 12 June we were asked: Do you want to go up to the cabin on the Adula? And on the 28th we started working. It was madness! The hut was scheduled to be closed and so we could only do better!”, say with a laugh our two hosts who faced that challenge together.

“It's much easier as a couple”.

After 3 years, they moved to Capanna Bovarina UTOE on the other side of the valley, halfway between Ritom lake and Capanna Scaletta.

 

“It's an excellent position: we're the only refreshment point between two hikes of about 6 hours each. Hikers arriving here just want to relax.”

I was born in a restaurant, and I've always loved cooking and making the most of the ingredients.

Some come up to Capanna Bovarina just for lunch, because it's a place where you eat well.

Loris loves cooking, as you can see from the proud way he wears his apron. Polenta, risotto, stew, minestrone, pasta and cold cuts, with an emphasis on traditional dishes.

 

His specialty is polenta with leeks and cheese. Inside the hot polenta, the vegetables and cheeses blend and the end result is delicious!

Apart from the chef's skill, another important factor is the origin of the products: Loris and Yvonne apply local concept and try to buy everything they need in Blenio Valley.

“We want to create a supply chain in this region”, they tell us.

 

Pro tip
From May to October, Yvonne and Loris welcome hikers every day with a hot plate or a comfortable bed.
On weekends in the colder months there is a tub full of hot water awaiting guests for a congenial open-air aperitif.
Capanna Bovarina is located on a SwitzerlandMobility MTB route, as well as one for hikers and another for snow-shoe trekkers.

But in Capanna Bovarina, it's not only humans that are happy, as animals are also welcome here: dogs, marmots, or even wooden statuettes.

The couple’s shared passion is definitely dogs. Mia is a member of the family and has been with them all through these adventurous years.

 

Behind the cabin you notice a sign reading “Dog Bar” with a bowl where four-legged friends can quench their thirst.

“A dog bar at 1,870 m a.s.l.”

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The couple are very welcoming, calm and relaxed although their work is not always easy and, in the summer months, they work 16-hour days 7 days a week.

 

 

They have two helpers: Anna and Patrizia.

But maybe their best helper is their inner peace and quiet: a few years earlier they organised yoga sessions near a bench that was the perfect place to await the sunrise. Perhaps a special place?

We'll ask them another time. Now it’s bedtime with lights out at 10 p.m. Tomorrow we have more miles to travel on the footpaths of Ticino.
 

 

THE COMPLETE STORY


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