Trekking through a crisp, white landscape (even if the edges are brown through lack of snow) is an exhilarating experience.
Our longest trip - a 15 kilometre mix of snow-shoeing and hiking - was exhausting in a good way. The village shuttle bus took us up to Sestriere where we grabbed a coffee before setting out westward to the trail head.
Light snow fall the previous evening had left a soft surface over the ice, giving our footfalls a satisfying 'crunch'. Among the trees we studied the tracks of rabbits, deer, fox and - of course - domestic dogs out with their owners for a joyous roll in the fresh snow.
Our trajectory crossed and re-crossed that of a Nordic skier leaving herringbone traces in the wider, groomed pathways as we circled back down the mountain. She was our age, working hard to retain firmness and strength.
After a pause for a reviving glass of tea in town, the day's last skiers hurtled down the slopes beside us as we dropped back into our valley though the fading light - foot-sore but feeling justified. It had been a good day and for once we'd really earned our glass of red.