Hello, again, Blogonauts!
I had a secret priority for this Italian itinerary: To visit the Dolomites (or as they are known in Italian, Dolomiti), a range of mountains in the eastern Italian Alps.
The Dolomiti are comprised of light-colored (almost white) limestone, and so they're also known as the pale mountains. Limestone erodes erratically over time, and this has left the Dolomiti with jagged peaks, towers, and sheer cliffs.
Among these are the Cinque Torri (Five Towers), a formation of closely spaced columns that stand apart from other peaks in this region of the Dolimiti.
This entire region has been Italian territory only since 1918, when it was won as the spoils of victory when Austria (the previous ruler) lost World War 1. The area was central in many of the battles of that war, and there remain several restored bunkers, initially built by Italian troops to aid in their fight against Austro-Hungarian forces. In 2009, the Dolimiti were named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To access this part of the Dolomite National Park, we drove several kilometers down a road of nearly-impossible twists and narrowness. Eventually we reached the restaurant at the end of the universe ... err ... end of the roadway, and from there began our hike to circle the Cinque Torri.
The hike itself began relatively steeply, and since we were already 7000 feet above sea level, huffing & puffing insued. But eventually the pathway MOSTLY leveled out, and we could enjoy the mountains that emerged from clouds and opened up to welcome the sunshine.
Along the way, we came across several rock climbers, intent on using fingers and feet and ropes (but mostly fingers and feet) to ascend the sheer faces of the various towers. The youngest we saw was a 7-year-old girl, gamely following her father's instructions up the vertical rock in front of her.
It is difficult to approach any blog post about the Dolomiti verbally. They simply must be seen to be believed. I have posted a few of the photos I snapped today, but they don't do the spectacle justice. Nonetheless, you can find them in the attached album entitled Dolomites & Cortina d'Ampezzo.
These peaks did not disappoint. They provided perhaps the most beautiful vistas I've ever seen. Tomorrow will not be a let down, however, because I get to once again practice my German, as we head out for a slice of southern Austria.
Blog to you later!