The Dolomites, which famous Swiss architect Le Corbusier called, “…the most impressive buildings in the world” are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. Their unmistakable shape is the result of changes that have occurred over millions of years. Once the massifs were coral reefs that formed in the subtropical ocean. Over time the sea bottom lowered and the reefs raised up.
As a child I remember them as rugged, lonesome giants proudly overlooking the region. On our recent visit I realized that my memory wasn’t just a figment of a child’s overactive imagination, but a true description of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. And that is not exaggerating. After a full day of driving around, being afraid to close my eyes or I might miss something, we still haven’t seen it all. It was however a start of a love affair that will last forever.
We caught the first glimpse of the mountains as we crossed the border between Austria and Italy. But driving further on, made us realize, we have seen nothing yet. I started to stammer when I tried to describe the lake Landro with Dolomites in the backdrop. Even the kids were impressed with the view. They were so quiet as if they were put under a spell but greedily jumped out of the car the second we stopped to take photos along the way. Basically we wanted to stop every meter to capture all the changing scenery. The offer to walk around lake Antorno was unanimously accepted and while the girls readily chased each other I looked at hubbs and he smiled. Yes, we were perfectly attuned, we thought:
This is paradise on Earth.
Reluctantly we moved on, because we had so much on our schedule as it was. Though soon we realized it was too much, we’d have to come back and then the weight was off, we could relax and enjoy. Noon came too soon and we were all starving. To save on the expanses of eating in one of the up scale restaurants of the former Olympic town and still a popular ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, we grabbed some food at the local supermarket and continued our journey.
Both girls finally sound asleep in the backseat and we slowed down, looking for a perfect spot in the shade for our little feast. Heading over to the pass Falzarego, we take an unexpected turn towards the sign 5 Torri, a group of mountains formed by five towers hence the name torri. On our way up a lovely yet very narrow road we found the right meadow ripe for lounging. I pulled out a blanket and threw it over the array of wild flowers. As we munched on our food, we realized that while it might not be upscale, the views and the company of birds, trees and mountains, certainly is. And after our meal, we were happy to further explore. This time on foot.
The sound of the girls bickering and complaining makes this day finally look more realistic, not a fantasy. Realizing that this region was a place of fierce battles during the first world war also cast a different light on this seemingly ideal region. It didn’t take the magic away however. I admired the silent peaks that just keep persevering through the centuries. And it’s right that since 2009 they are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for all the roles they played and continue to serve today.
One more pass – Giau and we were tired enough to head back to our camp, with a stop at Cortina. Two ice creams and beers set us back 13 Euros, but we were either so sedated by the beauty of the Dolomites or too tired after a full day, to care too much. We enjoyed it. Every last thing. And we will be definitely coming back for more. While I used to remember the Dolomites as tall giants as a kid, this time around they reminded me much more of the Wall from the Game of Thrones. I know, weirdo 🙂 But see for yourself.