|Alpe di Suise|
High summer in Italy, and where better to spend a few cool days than the Dolomiti. Don’t be fooled by the red geraniums in the flowers boxes, the snow-capped mountains, the cows with over-sized cow bells and the waitress saying “yavol!” You are indeed still in Italy, not Austria Things were different before the First World War, but that’s another story. This is, by another name, the South Tyrol, and things are still decidedly Tyrolean. Yes, you can expect to see lederhosen, though more often you’ll see the bright Gortex jackets of avid hikers taking to the beautiful trails. Possibly yodelling.
|If you don't like hiking...|
|If you do like hiking...|
Should you wish to stop for some light refreshment, there are a number of traditional wooden lodging houses scattered through the hills, where you can get beer and schnitzel and such-like. Should you require a little more pampering, this is just the region for health spas, of the everyone-goes-naked variety. Should you need to restore your soul, try one of the multi-day hikes along the ‘Alte Via‘ trails, staying in refuges along the way.
|It IS Italy, trust me.|
|You couldn't possibly get lost.|
|Urtijei - ridiculously picturesue|
The name Dolomiti (or ‘Dolomites’) comes from the rock forming the many spectacular mountain outcrops. The old name for the area was ‘The Pale Mountains’. The area is now an Italian National Park. Cars (quite rightly) are restricted - once you drive in, or out, you won’t be able to return - or leave - until a window of opportunity at 5 pm. But we did venture off on one excursion, to the nearby towns of Urtijei and Castelrotto, places that are so storybook picturesque that it’s a little hard to actually believe in them. We ate in the garden of a delightful hotel in Urtijei, strolled the impossibly Austrian-kitch shops, bought new hiking boots, sat by a medieval fountain for a restorative aperitivo...But you could, if you wish, walk over to these villages from Alpe di Suise, and take the gondola from the top of the mountain to the village piazza.
The Dolomiti - ah, I will return. Love the thought of a week hiking from refuge to refuge, high up in the Sud Tirol.
|Village fountain, Castelrotto|
|Hmmm...do they have my size?|
Map from http://besthike.com/europe/dolomites/index.html