Monday, July 27, 2015

The hills are alive with the sound of music! (Our visit to the Dolomites)

Well, this one totally took me by surprise. I would've thought Rome or Venice would be my favorite spot in Italy. (After all, I consider myself somewhat of a city girl.) But nooo, the Dolomites take top spot! Wow, I am completely blown away. I think I walked around the entire weekend with my mouth hanging open, snapping pictures every other second. Seriously, I had a serious urge to yodel. I felt like I was on the set of "The Sound of Music".

The Dolomites are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy, and are by far, the most dramatic and beautiful mountains I have ever seen.  They're made of dolomite, a rock similar to limestone, and are light gray and very jagged. Lush, green meadows with grazing cows, horses, and sheep dot the meadow below them.

The Dolomites, while technically in Italy, make you feel like you're in Germany. At the end of WWI, the region was ceded by Austria to Italy, but the residents here have never really embraced the Italian way of life. Their primary language is German (which was confusing. Do I speak English, Italian, or German? Hmmm, well since I can really only speak one of those languages, I guess the choice was easy.) The towns have a heavy Bavarian influence, and the people look German (fair-skinned and blue-eyed). And forget about finding gelato here. It's mostly dumplings and strudel.

Our "home base" and a typical town, Castelrotto
For someone who's pregnant and often hot, boy, was this an amazing temperature relief! When we left Ferrara, it was 120 degrees (and I'm not talking about the heat index). In the Dolomites, the high was in the upper 70s, and it got into the 50s at night! They don't even have AC here; it's not needed. We just slept with our windows open. And we didn't even have to travel that far. We stayed in a town called Castelrotto, just about 3.5 hours away from Ferrara.

Castelrotto is adorable. It's how you would imagine a German town, very beautiful and well-kept. Here's a link to our hotel, Hotel Wolf or "al Lupo" in Italian. Hotel Wolf

The only issue... our hotel is located next to the town's proud and joy, a 250-foot bell tower. It chimes every 15 minutes. And remember how I mentioned we slept with our windows open?  Yeah, you get the idea.... Not a lot of sleep.

The people here are very nice, but it's amazing. Everywhere we go in Italy, there's a heavy American influence on culture. While the people here rarely speak English, they wear clothing with American logos and listen and play American songs. We came across a great band in the town square, singing yes, American songs.

We chose to hike Europe's largest high-alpine meadow, called Alpe di Siusi. It was classified as "moderately-strenuous" and should have taken about four hours. It's around five or six miles, but ended up taking us about six hours. (I move a little slower these days.) The hike was great. We had 360-degree views everywhere we looked and traveled through some cute German towns.

Mooo've out of our way please!

Some of the hike was flat or downhill, and a lot of it was uphill. That was tough, but once you got to the top, boy, the views were worth it!  The other challenge, getting some of the animals to move. LOL. We saw some horses, and lots of cows. The cows summer here in the meadow and occasionally would block our path.

We always knew where they were though. They wear those old-fashioned cow-bells. You'd hear the sound everywhere!

We can't wait to come back; just gotta practice my yodeling first! Ciao!

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