The Dolomites

Venice is graphically located in a very interesting place -when I researched day trips from Venice, I was very surprised to find that you could go from the blazing Italian heat, to the frigid temperatures of the Dolomite Mountain Range in just a little over an hour of driving!

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The Dolomites are a beautiful Mountain Range in Northeastern Italy which stretch for miles. They have significant historical significance because during the First World War, the line between the Italian and the Austro-Hungarian forces ran through these mountains. The Dolomites are covered in vie ferrate, paths created during the First World War.

So, with our usual taste for adventure, we set off out of Venice on our last full day there, picked up a rental car and hooned our way into the Dolomites. From everything we had read about the ranges at this time of year, it was supposed to be lovely weather, spring flowers and little or no snow on the ground. Wow were we ever wrong!

As we started to ascend into the mountains, a thick icy fog rolled in and the temperature plummeted! To our surprise the banks of the ever winding and steep road were covered in at least a metre of snow. Ash and I were a little nervous as we had no snow-chains for the tires in case of ice. We thought we would risk going a little further into the mountains but be prepared to turn back if we needed to.

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Luckily for us, the icy fog remained but didn’t drop any snow on us. Before long we had reached our first destination – Lake Misurina. Which, to our huge surprise was frozen solid! We are talking, ice-skating solid. It’s hard to portray just how bizarre we both found this; to have just left the beautiful and warm city of Venice, to now arrive in the frigid snowy alps so quickly.

Our plan was to drive further up the mountain pass and park up at the beginning of a long walk around a famous outcrop of mountains. Unfortunately we were not prepared at all for the thick blanket of snow covering the paths and the icy temperatures. We had jackets and trousers but they were not suitably insulated and our shoes were far from snow boots. We were both wearing trainers – not ideal!

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We left the lake-side and drove further up the pass but the higher we went, the worse the weather became. Alas, we made the (very) regrettable decision of abandoning this walk and instead decided to head West and then slightly back down in altitude towards the sleepy resort-village of Cortina. As we descended the weather mostly cleared and we passed a driveway on the side of the road which looked like the beginning of a trek. I spun the car around, parked it up and read the signposts near the start of the trail. Ash managed to Google many of the Italian words on the signs and worked out that basically there was a rabies infestation and that we should stay away from squirrels. Point taken!

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We locked the car and headed up the steep track, which I may add was covered in at least a metre of snow. We encountered some cloud cover and light drizzle almost immediately but the views from the track were still incredible. With soaking wet shoes and cheeky smiles ear-to-ear, we made make-shift toboggans out of disposable plastic ponchos and dived off some steep snow banks. So much fun!

This was the most snow Ash had ever seen in her life (she is Australian after all!), so she was like a kid on Christmas Day. We carried on the walk until we couldn’t bear the cold anymore and then turned back. We changed our shoes and socks when we returned to the car and carried on our drive down the pass.

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We soon arrived in Cortina, a cute little town filled with expensive resort-style hotels and very little places for parking. But due to the time of year it was, the place was completely deserted, like a beautiful ghost town high in the mountains. I presume it would have been absolutely buzzing a few months earlier with tourists and wealthy Italians.

After getting decidedly lost – I found driving around the tiny one-way streets highly stressful as this was the first time I had ever driven on the right-hand side of the road before; we managed to find a park, and warm ourselves with hot drinks in a quiet little cafe. After this it was time to make our journey back to Venice, for our train ride to Rome the next day.

 

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