Perched at an elevation of 2,800 meters above sea level, the enigmatic and perilous Buffa di Perrero has earned its reputation as the “loneliest house in the world”, emerging as an unconventional tourist attraction in Italy.
This solitary dwelling, situated on the flank of a remote mountain range, has stood vacant for a century, yet its allure persists.
Ascend to the altitude of 2,800 meters, navigating the rocky contours of the Italian Dolomites, and there, you will encounter Buffa di Perrero.
What remains elusive is a coherent account of the origins of this peculiarly positioned house.
For years, a mystique has surrounded the question of how the laborers who cleared the land managed to reach the structure, believed to have been constructed over a century ago during World War I.
The intriguing saga of Buffa di Perrero
Legend has it that Italian soldiers erected this concealed refuge to seek shelter from the harsh weather and recuperate from the battles against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
With its brick walls, sloping roof, four framed windows, and a set of camping chairs, the house baffles many, prompting questions about the logistics involved in transporting construction materials and furnishings to this remote location.
To make the trek to the diminutive structure less hazardous, the Via Ferrata, or “iron way” in English, has introduced steel ladders and cables for the particularly treacherous sections of the trail.
It is speculated that the soldiers constructed the hut over a century ago during World War I, establishing a haven for rest, storage, and gaining a strategic advantage over forces approaching the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Numerous such “bivouacs” were erected on the Italian front during the global conflict, as the opposing armies clashed on foot and unleashed heavy artillery into the mountains, triggering avalanches. An infamous incident, known as “White Friday”, occurred on Mount Marmolada in December 1916, claiming the lives of 270 Austro-Hungarian soldiers.
Weather-related damage remains a constant threat in the area, with the local newspaper Il Dolomiti reporting the unfortunate collapse of the hut’s roof, rendering it “unusable” for climbers.
How did its fame spread?
Brave adventurers can venture into the mysterious house by scaling the steel ladders, rungs, and cables affixed to steep mountain rocks along the Via Ferrata.
However, the gray wooden interior may disappoint, furnished with several white wooden chairs and little else.
The cramped space, adorned with wood paneling, is curiously equipped with several white wooden chairs, suggesting that soldiers or contemporary adventurers seized the opportunity to relax. This is understandable, given that some routes in the Dolomites demand up to a week to traverse.
Interestingly, the Auronzo Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), responsible for overseeing hiking trails in the region, drew inspiration from this peculiar abode. They constructed a modern shelter near the Forcella Marmarole pass, rivaling the historic one.
Transported by helicopter, the new refuge, capable of accommodating up to 12 people, gives the illusion of plunging down the mountain range, creating a spectacular sight. Accessing it involves a challenging five-hour journey, partly facilitated by a ski lift. Explorers who reach this secluded spot can peer into the mysterious structure.
Much like any renowned phenomenon, Buffa di Perrero has spurred imitators. The CAI, responsible for the area’s hiking trails, erected a modern shelter transported by helicopter to the Forcella Marmarole pass.
Not for the faint-hearted due to its precarious location, the shelter appears to be descending down the mountain range, requiring a strenuous five-hour hike to reach. Those who persevere can catch a glimpse into this enigmatic structure, appreciating its architectural uniqueness and the panoramic vistas from its dizzying height.