Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.
When traveling to Italy most of us think of the usual destinations to visit such as Rome, Venice, and Florence. But how many of you have ever considered a trip to northern Italy and the Dolomite region? The Dolomites are a mountain range located in north-eastern Italy that is part of the Southern Alps. The range is home to one National Park, the National Park of the Belluno Dolomites, and numerous regional parks. All told, the Dolomite range contains 18 peaks over 10,000 feet. In 2009 the Dolomites were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cultural and physical significance.
This region of Italy is famous for its winter skiing, summer hiking, quaint alpine villages, lush valleys, and the resort village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956. The Grande Strada delle Dolomiti, or Great Dolomite Road, is considered to be one of the top three most scenic drives in all of Italy. This 100km (62 miles) drive that spans from Bolzano in the west to Cortina in the east takes you over high mountain passes and through vast alpine valleys. If beautiful outdoor scenery and adventure is your thing, consider a trip to this stunning region of Italy.
Our visit to northern Italy took us to an area called the Brenta group at the very western end of the Dolomites. For our lodging, we found a terrific little place, B&B Cappeler, located just a few kilometers outside of Tione di Trento. I don’t recall exactly how we found this place, but I’m sure glad that we did. Our host Franca was exceptional. Her little B&B offers everything one can imagine to make your stay as pleasant as possible. Cappeler offers large comfortable rooms with ensuite bathrooms, an amazing breakfast every morning to get your day started, and a location set in the beautiful Giudicarie Valley just a few kilometers outside of Tione di Trento. If you are planning a visit to the Brenta Dolomite area then B&B Cappeler makes for a good base. Franca is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this stunning area of northern Italy, and she will assist you with your planning if you so desire. There are also numerous Agriturismos located throughout this area that make for a good accommodation option.
Our Home: B&B Cappler
A visit to this area is not complete without a stop in Pinzolo. This quaint town draws outdoor enthusiasts year-round for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, and any other outdoor sport one can imagine. Our visit to Pinzolo took us up the cable car to the 6890-foot summit of Doss del Sabion. Upon arrival, you will be presented with a stunning view of the Brenta Dolomites.
This majestic group contains three peaks over 10,000 feet with the Cima Tosa topping out at 10,410 feet. Once you stop marveling at the beauty of this range, which may take awhile, you can explore the area on foot, watch the paragliders as they launch themselves off the mountain, or enjoy a relaxing lunch or snack at the mountaintop restaurant. This is the quintessential alpine spot complete with mountain cows with their bells tolling. The 360-degree view from here is something that will be ingrained in your memory for a very long time. The photos below simply don’t do it justice.
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Andalo: Home to Paganella
Our second day in this region brought us up the east side of the Brenta group to Andalo, which is home to the Paganella ski area. Being quite fond of cable car rides, we quickly hopped on board for the trip to the top of the Cima Paganella. Once again we were greeted with a stunning 360-degree view. Once you get a taste of this type of scenery it’s hard to get it out of your system. We hiked around, marveled at the views, and took hundreds of photos.
With our job complete, we headed for the ride back down to town. Andalo, like Pinzolo the day before, is a quaint alpine village nestled in a beautiful valley. This part of Italy has a very distinctive German flavor to it which stems from the fact that this area has changed hands numerous times over the centuries until finally being handed to Italy in 1918.
Another beautiful town to stop in while you are in this area is the community of Molveno. I have to say that Molveno is located in one of the most beautiful spots imaginable. It sits at the north end of Lake Molveno with the Brenta Dolomites soaring behind it. This small community has much to offer with hiking trails that go around the lake, excellent fishing, boat rentals, and an array of other outdoor activities. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast then a stop in Molveno might be just your thing.
I hope to able to report back on another section of the Dolomites as we are currently in the process of planning a trip to the Belluno and Cortina d’Ampezzo area for later in the year. This section of the Dolomites contains the Grande Strada delle Dolomiti, or Great Dolomite Road, which has been on my must-see list for quite some time.
Ciao for now.
© 2012 Bill De Giulio