Skating in Italy
By. Kevin Larive
Achensee is a lake surrounded by mountains and forests in Italy’s beautiful city of Tirol. At this time of year the water is a gorgeous green that is breathtaking to look at. A bit too cold for swimming, but much used by dinghy sailors, kite surfers and wind surfers. You can walk round the edge of the lake, and stop at various huts for beer and other libations, but much of the circumference of the lake also has a cycle path which is ideal for skating. The cycle path is a bit narrow but on the whole the cycles do not travel fast enough to create much danger. More serious cyclists in the area tend to take to the mountain trails on mountain bikes.
There are lots of skaters to be found on this path and not only do you get a good workout in but get to enjoy some beautiful visuals. Achensee has quite a few skaters propelling themselves with ski poles or Nordic walking poles. These folks are cross country skating enthusiasts, keeping in shape during the summer. Classic cross country skating involves keeping the skis in parallel groves cut in the track, but more advanced cross-country skiers tend to prefer skate skiing. In skate-style cross-country skiing, the weight transfer, movement, and use T-stop to slow down seem similar to skating. I have never tried skating with poles, but I am hoping a by-product of improving my skating skills I can learn how to cross country skate. I can do downhill skiing, and even uphill (i.e. walking up the mountain on touring skis) but I have not yet got the hang of skiing on the flat, which is a different skill.
In general the Alps is not the obvious place for skating aside from the hard-core downhill skaters (which I am not), but (maybe because skiers need something to do in the summer) skating is extremely popular in North Tirol. Paths along the edge of a river or lake are the one place which is reliably flat. Skating in winter is out of the question, owing to the amount of snow, but if you are visiting the Alps or the Italian lakes in summer consider taking skates with you, as a great way to enjoy the many smooth-surfaced cycle paths.