The florentine who brought SKIS to Tuscany

It was the winter of 1904 when Nèri Cini arrived in Abetone, in the heart of the mountains of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Got off the train in Pracchia (PT), he continued on foot to the Cimone Hotel, which he reached late at night. With him he had brought from Norway two strange wooden planks with curved tips: the first Norwegian skis seen in those parts.

In the morning he put on his “woods” demonstrating, to the general amazement of the Abetone residents, that he could slide without sinking on the two meters of fresh snow. But the Abetone slope was not yet designed for skiing and he disappeared in the snow. Fortunately, the emergency services rescued him and the bad adventure ended well. Nèri, as thanks donated his wooden skis to the owner of the hotel, Pietro Petrucci known as “Pietruzzo” who, from that moment on, began to use them and spread their use among the Abetone residents and customers.

Skiing was very successful, the Abetone Ski Club was born in Tuscany and in 1924 the first skier’s guide was published. In 1937 a large 20-seater sled was built to take skiers to the Selletta refuge: the “slittovia”, the first facility in Abetone and one of the few Italian sites equipped with ski lifts of the time.

A ski instructor from Abetone, Zeno Colò, was one of the strongest Italian skiers of all time, inventor of the egg position still adopted by skiers today to be more aerodynamic. He will be the world record holder in the flying kilometre, world champion and first gold medal for Italy in the downhill at the Winter Olympics in Oslo: it was 16th February 1952.

The three Zeno slopes in Abetone are dedicated to him.