Road to Val Badia – The Dolomites

Drive to Corvara July 18, 2014

8:30 Beautiful sunny day in Trieste and I get to see how early people get set up for a day “al mare”. The drive through Barcola was all about waiting for people to find a parking spot and seeing people already set up with their sun chairs, newspapers, walking around in their bathing suits.

Coffee at La Costa Barbari and I decide not to eat a brioche but instead save myself for a treat later! As we leave there the car keys get handed to me. The capogita sets up the GPS so that I can get familiar with the areas we drive through on the way to Val Badia.

I have to say that I find the driving on the autostrada a bit unnerving. The cars come up behind you and pass before you even see them. Plus there are the big trucks that you have to pass on roads that are much narrower than what I am used to. Add to that that I am not yet familiar with all the road signs and that unlike the, 401 for example, the autostrada up through the Friuli countryside is curvy. It makes it tricky to try and pass a truck even at the very slow speed of 110 Km/h that I am driving.

We drive through Friuli where you start to see the Carnic Alps – and M. te Canin that is the background for Udine. The rivers we pass – Tagliamento – have wide but flat dry beds, only trickles of water, over the white stones.

We exit the autostrada, a couple of traffic circles to get onto the right road. Two lanes now and traffic is coming towards me. The capogita tells me that soon this road will change to an even narrower one with no shoulder at all. As soon as I see this I ask to be relieved of my driving duties.

Then into the Carnia zone of Friuli.   The valleys are narrow and deep and the beautifully maintained wooden houses, overflowing with flower baskets are almost suspended over the meadows that line the valleys. There is an expression that says even the hens lay their eggs with the handbreaks on so that the eggs do not roll into the valley below!

During the Facist regime this area had a lot of colonia’s or summer camps for the children of the poor. It gave them some relief from hunger, providing them with three meals a day and fresh air and exercise.

We cross the Carnia region and enter the region of the Veneto and the small town of Sappeda that to me was picture perfect alpine village.  We cross the Val Comelico arriving at the Monte Croce Comelico Pass to enter the Alto Adige – Sud Tyrol.   As always – two names –  Italian and German as we are now in the autonomous province of Bolzano – Bozen. One of the objectives with having this autonomous region is of course is to preserve the language and the traditions of the region that until 1918 was part of Imperial Austria.

Then a stop at the pass to allow us to have a coffee and apple strudel and to admire the first sight of the snow covered Dolomites Alps.

We pass signs for grave yards and memorials that are the lving reminders that in WWI this was a front line between the Italians and Austrians. There are endless rows of trenches high up in the mountains.

The road is real curving mountain road now and now we start to descend into the Val Pusteria – Pustertall and the small town of Sesto Pusteria – Sext in Pustertall. Pine forests, small rivers which in Canadian terms would be babbling brooks cascading over the rocks, small waterfalls, all crystal clear.

The sun is shining with a perfect blue summer sky and we stop to admire all the different summits – Croda Rossa di Sesto, Cima 11, Crode dei Toni- Cima 12. The summits also have a number that at one time would indicate the time of day so if around noon the sun was over a particular summit it would be summit number 12.

I mention that a nice spot for lunch might be by one of those brooks. And sure enough we luck into a small spot by the side of the road (lucky because there are very few spots where you can actually pull off this narrow road and park the car) and by a brook because I want to be by the water. It is not only a crystal clear babbling brook, but there are a nice number of colorful flowers along side the water.

We are travelling through what feels like an alpine story book.   Flower bedecked houses, onion domed churches on hilltops, villages on hilltops, green pastures, lots of stacks of wood. Even the woodpiles have flower baskets. One woodpile was even covered by a beautiful rose bush.

It is the time of the season to cut the hay. One field is dotted with small wooden houses where the hayfrom these alpine meadows has  been traditionally stored.

The summer has been cool and rainy and the meadows and ski runs are a perfect shade of summer green. Dark green pine trees, summer green meadows, grayish mountain peaks against a perfect blue summer sky with snow white clouds.

These winding roads are a motorcyclists heavan – lots of motorcycles taking the curves almost parallel to the road. For some reason at least two dozen or so Porsche cabriolets whiz by us on the other side of the road.

We deviate towards Cortina d’Ampezzo and pass by Carbonin and Misurina Lake. Green blue waters, paddle boats to rent – idyllic.

We pass high above Cortina almost nestled (conca) in it’s encircling mountains: Le Tofane, Pomagagnon, Cristallo, Faloria.  The mountains are now so close you can almost touch them as we pass under La Tofane di Rozes to arrive at the Falzarego Pass and then the Valparola Pass – Ju de Valparola (in the Ladin language) to enter the Val Badia. Ladin is said to have its roots in a Celtic language from Roman times and is still spoken and used in signage in this area of Dolomite Alps.

We pass the towns of San Cassiano –St. Kassian-San Ciascian, La Villa –Stern- La Ila, to reach Corvara – Kurfar and the Pensione La Scalira. La Scalira is the wooden structure used to put hay for the cows. All this in a green valley sitting under the signature M.te Sassongher!

The pictures attached all have Google maps references and location names for those who can figure out how to find this information!

All this information of course has only  been possible thanks to the expertise of the capogita!


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