THE GRAND TOUR: ITALY 10/11/12th AUGUST 

  

Dawn on Lago d’ Allegne from our park up. 

Italy has been very good to us in terms of nice places to stay for the night. Not always strictly by the rules but it does seem pretty relaxed. There are thousands of ” motor homes” here, way more than anywhere else we’ve been and they’re nearly all Italian. Gone are the Dutch and Germans. 

There are lots of municipal camper park ups but it’s the height of the holiday season and they’re pretty crammed, especially in towns. As are the camp sites. It seems like there is some inverse law that means the more unattractive the location, the more camperv, sorry motor homes will be in it. While we were lake side, the town side park up looked like this.  

 Or a small section of it did. There’s as much again on either side of the shot. 

Anyway, each to their own. I guess some folk are sociable. I am improving my skills at interacting with mass tourism facilities and to continue working on them I resolved not to hike on our own up mountains for a couple of days but to join countless others on cable car trips instead. 

From Alleghe there was a two stage lift to the ski runs atop Col del Baldi at 1930m. The second stage had been turned from a chair lift to a cable car this year so we were able to take the dogs. 

A few minutes and 900m later we were gazing in wonder at 350 degrees of splendour.  

   

What impressed us most apart from the peaks was the fact that all the ski runs were grassy loveliness. In Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia we’d seen some really scared up mountains but these looked landscaped and manicured, almost like golf courses. 

  
Another sport that was well catered for was mountain biking as the bikes could be taken up on the cable car and then avail of gravity to get them down. 

Here’s a couple more pictures of bikes to quench the thirst of Giles.  

   

There was a busy bar/restaurant and lots of picnicking and sunbathing around the CC station and a network of trails that headed off hither and thither. Some people were picking bilberry or blueberry of which there was a carpet.  

 As our mission for the day was to mingle with the masses we didn’t stray too far only climbing a solitary bump to check unseen vista. But what do you do when your not hiking? Chat? I wasn’t quite ready for that level of human interaction so found time passing slowly and after what I’ve just worked out to be 7 hours (no wonder it seemed like a long time. I’m better at doing nothing than I thought) we zoomed back down to cool off in the lake and head off in search of a remote, rural, isolated and quiet place to stay. 

  Another picnic place in the shady trees by a river surrounded by soaring towers of limestone.  
 And in the background was our goal for the morning, Marmolada, known as the Queen of the Dolomites, the highest of them all at 3343m. But we weren’t going back to our old ways and hiking up, no we still had work to do on the crowd tolerance. 

And getting up at six to drive the last steep bit while the air was still cool meant we were at the station plenty early to avoid a queue and be unnecessarily tested. Or maybe not.  

 Still there were some lovely sheds I could spend time with while we waited.  

   And some even had the iron roofs I like so much. We had realised in Slovenia, whilst admiring the corrugated iron shed rooves that they were actually recycled 1st World War iron and it was everywhere. 100 yr old thick iron with a coating or patina of rust but still good and outperforming stuff obviously much younger. And here we were again on another Italian /Austro Hungarian WW1 front and the Tin was back.  

 

The cable car which took 70 punters shooting up the vertical wall of rock took 3 stages to work it’s way to the top. From the village of Malga Ciapela at 1435m to El Banch at 2236,  

 straight onto another car to cross the rocky expanse of Valon d’ Antermala  

 to Refugio Serauta at 2950m where there was a new museum devoted to the WW 1 activities at 3000m on the mountain.  

  

 Unsurprisingly it’s the highest museum in Europe, and its surrounded by trenches and caves, steps and observation posts cut into the rock. Over 10,000ft up mind. 

   
 And then into another car to whisk us over the cracked icy wastes of the mountains glacier  

 to the top station with a new viewing platform on which to suck up the thrills and swallow down on the wonder.  

  

  

  

 And so far from home.  

  Then down onto the glacier itself where,again, the refreshing lack of paranoid health and safety measures allowed for a slide of a lifetime (probably).  

   And how the hell did they get that up there.  

 Of course in the winter it’s all about the skiing and taking off from here they have 1200 km of pistes to work. I couldn’t persuade the Missus to come onto the ice but she did wave.  

 We also visited the grotto chapel hacked out of the rock to accommodate the Madonna donated and consecrated by John Paul 11 when he visited the mountain in 1979.  

   The brand new war museum was well designed with interesting exhibits but we had seen a lot further East on the Isonzo front where 300,000 had died. What was amazing on the Marmolada was the Ice City carved out of the glacier by the Austro Hungarians. 10km of tunnels with every kind of facility within. One of the largest, the so called Eisstadt was home to 300 under ice riflemen. 

We had left the dogs slowly baking so had to return 

 to base and take a walk down the “Temple of Nature” a very deep river gorge that runs down to the neighbouring village of Sottoguda. More ubiquitous picnic areas  

 brought us down into the gorge  

  where WW1 men had dug around a obstructing boulder  

   And made caverns and caves along the way.  

 

The village below was a treat with it’s wooden buildings, floral displays and quaint inhabitants.  

                   

In our program of social readjustment we hadn’t reached a level that allowed use of the “fun train” so we were forced to walk back up the hill.  

 Leaving the dogs looking for cool  

 

Off again, and this time for quite a spin. Because we are wary of taking Tranny up steep winding roads we had to go the long way round to get to and beyond Cortina d’Ampezzo the main tourist hub of the Dolomites. The steep sided valley and lack of side roads meant out park up was not of the usual high standard but we had a lovely pink mt Pelmo in the morning.  

   

 We travelled on up in the cool early morning air to get through the town and into a valley to the north where we could park up and hike. 

From Uberto we walked up the Val Salata to the Refugio Stua and then up and up above the tree line to the Alpine meadows of Lerosa at 2020m. A good 18km and 600m climb.  

   The landscape was dreamy and a little rustic hut made a perfect spot for contemplation.  

     Getting up into the high pasture we took a detour to a beautiful restored house.  

     Where we spotted marmots  

 but couldn’t get close. And horses availing of the spring waters.  

 

Further on we were treated to views of spiralling layers of rock in more mountain ranges.  

     And inescapable reminders of WW1 with the sites of cemeteries  

 and trenches  

 and the old military road  

 but the memories were faint and overlaid with a landscape of timeless beauty.  

     

Good to be walking in it. 

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One comment

  1. Truly breathtaking scenery. When you get a chance, fire me on any photos with folded rock layers or faulted rock layers on a grand scale like in this post please – useful for the old teaching collection. Ta x

    Like

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