Today was another mixed bag of awesome in the Italian Dolomites. In the morning, some of the group enjoyed an international horse-jumping event, one (not me!) went on a vigorous bike ride and we all reconvened for a lovely lunch on a covered patio of a local restaurant. I’m becoming hooked on these grande salads they offer.
For the afternoon, we made our way up different routes to another beautifully situated rifugio, and Gary guided most of the group through a fascinating outdoor museum of World War I trenches, stone walls and fortifications along a ruggedly beautiful walking path. In some cases, manikins are installed to illustrate the conditions and warfare experienced by the soldiers embattled in defending or besieging the critical Dolomites region during the war.
Once we were all happily together again after our varying and satisfying degrees of outdoor exertion, we ordered wine – of course! – beer, and a bountiful platter of speck (the local name for ham and prosciutto) while we awaited our dinner, high atop a mountain with sweeping views.
We all watched, mesmerized, as two rock climbers started their ascent of the main rock/tower of the Cinque Torri and made their way up to the top in a late afternoon glow. As Gary explained the skill and teamwork involved in the climb up and the belay down, we ate our delicious meals and watched the pair as they carefully yet fairly quickly make their way down in the fading light. Our own mountain style of “dinner theater”. It was such a bonus to have an experienced rock climber as a guide and dinner companion. But we were all a bit skeptical when he likened it to an afternoon of golf! One wrong move and you’re above par, but here…? Hmmm. Mistakes aren’t so easily forgiven.
“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.” William Blake
We donned our packs and trekking poles and headed down through flowered green hills to our trusty van parked conveniently below. A fox obligingly darted across the road in front of us as we were contemplating what, if any, wildlife, we might be able to spot in the Dolomites. I’m beginning to like this place That, if you didn’t catch it, was an understatement.
Photos by Gina Stark except where mentioned
For more Dolomites photos and hiking, see Hiking Italy: Delving Into the Dolomites