Sometimes falling can save your life Danny part II – Rifugio Altissimo
Everything is different now: I am still self-centred and I will do anything to show off (at my wedding I wore a kilt, for example), but now I can manage it: sometimes, when I’m strolling around, I feel my ego walking by my side: it looks at me and defies me. At first, I got very angry, and it swelled up even more, but then I have learned it doesn’t work.
Now I’m trying to love it, talk to it, understand its needs and so I get it down. I hug it, and it turns from an adult into a teenager, and then into a kid I can hold by the hand. It gets smaller smaller until I can put it into my pocket. It can’t disappear, it won’t go off completely because it’s part of me, but it becomes lighter and it’s me to lead it, not viceversa. I’ve come to this point after years and years working on myself, not in a moment.
At the beginning I felt depressed, it was rather impossibile standing by my side. I’ve made relationships failed (I’ve two kids with different women), I’ve caused lots of trouble and had some really bad moments. There have been numerous downfalls followed by small improvement. There has never been a turning point to say: ok, I’ve done it. I started from the bottom and I’ve climbed up little by little.
The injury was an opportunity to grow up, a good thing that saved me from death. And it is true also for other big and small accidents. If you are able to understand the teaching, they spur you to manage your life and act for the best. For example, a good friend of mine, Gianni, who worked as an accountant from 18 to 55, was sick and tired of his job. I offered him to come over and work here, and now he is in charge of preparing jams and he’s really happy, even if there are some license problems: we can’t do them in the kitchen yet.
More than this individual path, I have to say that for the first time I really feel together with someone: My wife Eva supports me, she always pander to anything and we face the problems together. With her by my side, I can show I am insecure and admit I am scared. Once, fear couldn’t exist, I couldn’t tell anybody, neither me. I would like to teach my kids to love themselves, accepting what they are: what I was doing when I climbed dangerously and crazily wasn’t loving me.
An exercise I used to do after the accident was looking myself in the mirror and say: I love you, Danny. It has been dramatically tough because it also means getting in love with your weaknesses. I’m acting the same with Eva; I love her as she is. With this approach, everybody’s flaws don’t become problems to be added to the daily issues. And they scale down a lot as well. Aren’t we allowed to cook the jam inside? So, let’s cook it outside.
Now I can tell my weaknesses and my endless insecurity not only to my wife, but also to other people. I don’t feel ashamed anymore to expose myself and open up, also with my positive aspects like being able to admit I do my job well enough. Once, at a meeting of mountain hut managers, I was surrounded by people taking notes and I listened to speeches about how to serve cold cuts, how to deal with customers and how to make money.
I introduced myself, and as I didn’t know what to say, I stated that I didn’t believe I was good, but I was also surrounded by mean people. Everybody clapped their hands.
In Trentino, the status quo is excellence: we are mean but we think we are some sort of genius, we are used to have money and natural wealth, an easy life, and this reduces our imagination. With this attitude, it is quite easy to have some enemies, I am conscious of that, but I don’t care: somebody thinks I am the best hut manager all over, someone the worst. What really matters to me is being able to perform well.
The hut is not in the traditional SAT style (the association that owns the Rifugio Altissimo), I know, but it is as I like it. The knoedeln aren’t prepared according to the traditional recipe, but mine. What’s the problem if my guests like them? For example: I asked every child who is my guest if they want to draw a picture I later put on the ceiling of the living room.
They feel part of something, and have a mission here. Some kids came back after years, and were touched because they saw their drawings. Everybody knows it now, it’s a sort of ritual. The SAT would like me to take them away because they don’t follow the standards of the perfect mountain hut.
I left their last meeting crestfallen as when I was at school. Nothing special had happened, but I felt inadequate, unfit to be there. Here I’ve spent 17 fabulous, wonderful years, but I’ve also got a lot of frustration over these years, and I don’t know if I could bear it any longer.
Danny Zampiccoli was the manager of the Damiano Chiesa mountain hut on Mount Altissimo for 17 years. It is one of the most beloved destinations for hikers and bikers who spend time in Garda Trentino, and is also the last leg of the Top Loop Garda Trek at altitude.
His smashing nature, his congeniality and his unique hospitality has turned the hut into a point of reference for all the mountain lovers, as well as for those people who want to spend some nights at altitude and in good company.
Since this year, Danny won’t be the host on the top of Mount Altissimo anymore, but the young Eleonora Orlandi is taking over from him, and we wish her good luck for this new adventure.
To Danny, a big thank you for the great job done in these years, and the wish to find some new challenges and pleasure.