The early morning was filled with thunderstorms and light rain but as the morning progressed, the skies cleared and it was a beautiful day.
Our entire group left our hotel by bus stopping to pick up eight Italians in a nearby village for a full day tour of the Dolomites. Our first stop was at the beautiful Lake Carezza in the hamlet of Carezza, a province of Bolzano. This small alpine lake sits at about 5,000 feet in altitude and was set in a dense forest until October 30, 2018 when there was a huge wind storm that destroyed thousands of acres of forest land. They believe that more than 14,000,000 trees were destroyed in just four hours. The storm had rain and winds in excess of 90 miles per hour. The trees have mostly been removed by now leaving the surrounding hillsides bare. The lake itself is quite small in size but the water is fed from a natural spring, is crystal clear and full of emerald colors of blues and greens.
We continued on through the Dolomites experiencing beauty in every direction. The panoramas of forests, barren rocky slopes to ski slopes and chairlifts can be found around every turn.
For lunch we stopped at the Marmolada Glacier located on the mountain Marmolada in the district of Trentino, Italy. It is the only glacier in the Dolomites section of the Alps. We boarded open air Gondola cars that only hold two persons for the climb up the mountain to the glacier. The ride over pine forest and barren rock takes about 20 minutes to reach the base of the glacier. Today the glacier has shrunk and it’s not that impressive but it was an interesting thing to see.
For lunch Kent and Christine ordered plenty of beer and water, goulash soup and bread. We spent about 90-minutes up the mountain near the glacier before returning to the bus. The temperatures were cool but a heavy sweater or fleece was adequate at the glacier.
We stopped at the Sella Pass, the highest mountain pass between the provinces of Trentino and South Tyrol in Italy. The pass is 7,727 feet in elevation and has tremendous views of the surrounding mountain peaks. In winter this is a tremendous ski area but in summer the ski lifts continue to operate taking people up the mountains to hike, bike and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Our last stop of the day was at a small town by the name of Kastleruth with a population of only about 6,500 inhabitants. This area is known for its wood carving of all types. You find carvings of religious figures, tree ornaments, figurines of all types, animals and more. The town square houses a beautiful church and clock tower with many shops on the meandering surrounding streets.
It was a long day of touring but it was a wonderful experience and gave us a good idea about everything that the Dolomites have to offer. The scenery is spectacular. There is a unique style of architecture of most of the local ski resorts. Many of them are smaller hotels about four stories tall with beautiful flower boxes hanging from every balcony.
Some Bolzano area observations: bus drivers are not very personable; lots of people smoke; there are fewer observable Muslims in the area; you don’t know what language people speak….it could be Italian, Ladin, German or English…..all are possible; locals don’t say “excuse me” or “pardon” if they bump into you; generally, if you great people in any language, they will respond.
We arrived back at our hotel about 6:45pm where the barbecue for dinner had already begun. The dinner was similar to last weeks but delicious and plentiful as well.