The Dolomiti

The Dolomiti

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

One weekend I went to the mountains. Not just any mountains but the Dolomiti. I had seen photos of this area but never had visited. I also didn’t know that they are called Dolomiti because they are made from a kind of rock called, you guessed it, dolomite which ranges in color from almost pure white to rose colored. They are even more spectacular in person than in the photos. I always find it difficult to photograph grand vistas but I did get some decent photos. Here is the best one.

During the week I searched for a rental car. I found that works wonderfully in general for travel reservations of almost any sort and this time was no exception. Interestingly enough the rental cars here are cheaper at the airport than in the city which seems to be reversed in the U.S. So I found a car, the cheapest available, for about 25 euros a day. Quite inexpensive. I packed a small backpack the day before and took it to school with me. After school on Friday I summoned a taxi. I say summoned because I found a website that you can use to send an SMS and the taxi arrives almost immediately. A great innovation. So after the taxi ride to the airport I had the car. Only one potentially disastrous hitch: I had forgotten to bring my passport. Fortunately I had a copy of all of my documents; credit card, atm card, driver’s license and, most important of all, passport. They accepted the copy and I was on my way. Well, I was on my way to search for the car. That took awhile because unlike the states where there seem to be signs everywhere directing you hither and yon, Italy is, well, more relaxed in this area. In any case, I found the car, a Fiat Panda and it was easy to exit and immediately get on the autostrada. I needed to make good time so I went as far as possible on the autostrada. Like I said, the Italians are much more relaxed about signage. In this case I was NEVER sure about what the speed limit was. There were lots of warnings about electronic monitoring of speed but none about what the speed limit actually was. Some people were going slow, maybe 60 miles an hour, either to conserve fuel or because the car was not in great shape. Occasionally someone would zoom past going at warp speed but I found that a lot of people seemed to be holding at 130 km/hour – about 80. So I fell in with the 130 crowd. After getting to the end of the freeway I still had perhaps 60 miles to go on increasingly winding roads but it went relatively quickly and I arrived after a little over 3 hours. Here is the route that I took.

I had arranged to stay with a Servas host. This is an international organization that is a hospitality organization. One can be a host and be hosted by others – you can find out more about it by clicking here. I had, of course, arranged beforehand to stay with someone and that someone was Marilisa. She’s 57 year old school teacher that lives in Calalzo di Cadore, a nice little town in the Veneto not too far from Cortina d’Ampezzo, a ski resort on par with Aspen. It was cloudy when I arrived but there were still I could see that the mountains were spectacular. She fixed dinner; potatoes from her 82 year old fathers farm which he still farms, a sauce made from a type of cheese unique to the area, some salad and cantaloupe. Wine was of course part of the picture.

The next morning was to be a clear day but it started with clouds. I kept telling here that I’m sure that the mountains were quite impressive, if only I could see them. It became a running joke. She took me on a tour of the area – loop north and then a bit east coming back through Cortina and back to her house. Along the way we stopped a farm where the chickens were running free and she bought a half dozen eggs from someone that she has known for many years. I experienced the watchdog behavior of geese. Those critters can be downright scary so I kept my distance. On a side note, the farmer there said that he didn’t speak Italian, only the local dialect. We stopped occasionally for photo-ops and for a stroll around Cortina. It’s certainly beautiful but you could see from the shop windows that it was a place for the wealthy. When we were not far from her house we stopped at a local restaurant for a meal of foods typical of the area. The food was very good and the price was quite reasonable. I paid, naturally.


After arriving back at her house she packed a small backpack and changed shoes and we headed off in search of wild mushrooms. I’d never done this and it was great fun. She found a bunch of them and I found a pathetic 3. BUT I found a porcini! It wasn’t very big but it did give me bragging rights. She fixed the mushrooms in a sauce and served it over pappardelle. We had porcini carpaccio as the antipasto and melon with speck for desert. Followed by some terrific German style pastries we had bought along the way. The Germans may not have the best cuisine around but they DO know how to make pastries. This was followed by an espresso and lemoncello made by her son.



The next day I left fairly early because the forecast was for rain and I didn’t want to rush. It didn’t rain so I was able to take some state roads rather than the autostrada much of the way. There was one detour that went along a little road, barely 1 ½ lanes wide where the trees almost formed a tunnel. There was almost no traffic and it was a very pretty drive. Unfortunately there was really nowhere to stop to take a photo.

Before I returned the car, I filled it with gas. I had used almost the whole tank and it cost about the same amount for the gas as for the car rental! In all it was a delightful trip and my conversations with Marilisa were completely in Italian. I understood most of it and she was very good about narrowing the vocabulary to help my understanding when necessary.

4 Responses to “The Dolomiti”

  1. Joy O'Neal Says:

    The thing I love best about your blog is that the photos and the stories pull me into them, and I feel like I am personally experiencing what you see and do. You are an excellent storyteller!

  2. Joe Says:

    Thanks, Joy. I certainly try to relate not just things and places but the process. I guess that makes it a better story.


  3. Lia Olivieri Says:

    A little tip : go to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the winter, try to ski at night with the lights on on the easier trails. Then come down singing your own Country’s National Anthem . It is an experience that you will never, never forget !!

  4. Joe Says:


    That does sound great although I’ve given up skiing after a knee replacement – maybe in the next life.


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