Day 3: Mereno – Brunico – Dolomites
The highlight for this day would be the Dolomites itself. Located in the provinces of Belluno, Trento and Bolzano-Bozen in Italy, the Dolomites is renowned worldwide for skiing in the winter months and mountain climbing, daily excursions, climbing and base jumping, as well as paragliding and hang gliding in summer and late spring/early autumn – certainly the views would merit some fame as well. The rust-taupe-brown colours of the rocks is amazing when viewed from a distance and especially during sunsets. More about that later…
Again, click on the pics for a better view!
Our path today takes us closer to the Austrian border and as such, there are clear Austrian influences in this part of Italy. A chance visit to the Mereno market revealed dual language usage with German being more predominant than Italian (coupled with the “boom” of German tourists) – spoken and both written – and German food such as sausages and sauerkraut (sp) (pickled cabbage). Even houses here were more organized and less colourful; although the distinctive Austrian styled balcony (think plenty of flowers) is typical in this area. Even town names are dual (like in Switzerland, ,eg Lucerne/Luzern, Geneva/Genève, Neuchâtel/Nueunberg) but for the purposes of this travelogue, they have been written only in Italian.
Going back to the Dolomites, during World War I, the Dolomites was one of the sites of confrontation between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces. As such, there are open air war museums located at some of the Dolomite sites, specifically Cinque Torri (Five Towers) and Mount Lagazoui – both of which we visited. It is also around this time that the via ferrata first kicked off. The Dolomites has the priviledge of being one of the best place to explore this historical “sport”. The via ferrata run through paths that were first created during World War I and amazingly, the equipment is still in fantastic shape.
Be warned though – if you’re not used to walking for long distances or hiking, the rocky & sometimes narrow paths can get tiring. The views, however, make up for all the effort. Like with every hike, do bring plenty of water and some snack to replenish energy & water levels. Oh, don’t forget your camera as well!
We ended off the day by camping off the beaten track somewhere along Stelva di Cadore and slept under the stars, namely the Pan constellation, with the view of the Dolomites greeting us before we hit the sack. Austria is where we’re off to next and again, a passport is not needed! 8)
To be continued…