Sledging on the kitchen table in the Dolomites

Italy’s second chance didn’t go too well; they still drove like hooligans.

We entered Northern Italy via the beautiful Natisone Valley which had rusty coloured forested slopes and a gushing river. It was a lovely and peaceful drive but soon enough we joined the main road. From then on we just passed through town after town with traffic lights everywhere. It was raining and idiots were abruptly pulling out in front of us, causing us to slam on our brakes on the slippery road.

We finished the miserable drive at Vittorio Veneto which looked very picturesque as we drove through at night time. Warm light beamed out the windows and reflected across the river. We strolled down to the old town the next morning but I preferred it at night.

I tried to get some information at Belluno about hikes in the nearby national park. Sadly, the lady thought the telephone was more important than me, so I stood glaring at her for five minutes till she finished her chin wag. We ended up just doing a drive through the park and continuing north towards the Dolomites.

There were lots of parks in the area according to my map, with wiggly roads and steep passes cutting through or around them, but we didn’t know which ones to visit. We ended up driving 10km a time, till we got to the next road junction and had to make a quick decision. I got a fantastic brochure about the Dolomites, explaining how they were formed, and I’d love to tell you all about them, but it was only in Italian, so I don’t even know how these incredible spikey, saw-like mountains were created.

We ended up driving over the 2117m Falzarego Pass. The peaks were hidden but we still got a fog free view at least. We even got our first glimpse of a typical Dolomite with 5 rocks just shooting out the mountain top.

The next day we woke to blue sky! We were super excited so drove back up the pass for some more mountain views. It was a beautiful area, but not quite what I pictured of the Dolomites; I was expecting a green pasture, cows grazing and a row of sharp peaks. But alas, that would only happen in summer, in good weather and on a long hike.

To make the most of the drive back up the pass we decided to try out some ‘Table Sledging’. This involved removing the top of our foldable table, wrapping up warm, and walking along sheets of ice to a snowy hill. It was thick snow in areas and we were sinking a foot of so deep. The sledging wasn’t as extreme as we’d hoped; we need to make some amendments like adding a rope to the front to raise it up, but it was still a good laugh. Soon enough the clouds rose from the valley and surrounded us so we headed back to Pablo.

Next stop was a town made for us; the most expensive and luxurious ski resort in Italy – Cortina d’Ampezzo. We must’ve looked like hobo’s walking around. When we asked the info lady the weather forecast she just rudely said ‘bad’. So that cut out any hiking in the area which was a shame as behind the cloud, were 360 degree Dolomite views.

So we continued on what had become a driving tour, and went north. We passed three incredible lakes, all varying colours of green, but one was so bright it looked fake.

Much to our excitement, the rain stopped as we drove west from
Dobbiac through a beautiful wide valley – screw you info lady telling us it was ‘bad’. I don’t know how these countries keep their grass so green. People in England struggle to keep a minuscule garden lush and neatly cut, but here, it’s vibrant, and rolling up and down hills with tiny wooden shacks and forest surrounding them.

We drove down to Bressanone, a German speaking town with a pretty medieval centre. It was all pedestrianised and everyone seemed to own a bike, but no one locked them up. It must be one of the safest towns in the world.

The already beautiful valley views became even more colourful with rows of vineyards. The bright yellow vines neatly climbed up the hills and castles sat atop cliff tops. It really was a stunning area.

We did have more planned for northern Italy, but then we were so close to Switzerland and the thought of towering peaks and cheese fondue twisted our arms. Maybe Italy just wasn’t for us, it’s not pleasant driving with someone up your arse the whole time…maybe the Italians like it that way though.

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