California's Sierra Nevada are formidable, Colorado's Rockies unmatchable. And the rocks of Southern Utah are world-class. But somehow, the Dolomites are in a whole different category. These mountains are the stuff of legend and fairy tails. The grandeur of these massive snow-dusted cliffs is unimaginable, even after we've been here for three days.
The narrow, winding, single-lane roads, impossibly steep, are mostly empty during this "in-between" shoulder season (not enough snow for skiing, too much for high-altitude trekking). The hills are alive, green and yellow with dandelions. The mountains... The mountains tower over everything, a constant presence.
We've been hiking yesterday and today, and were constantly stunned by the postcard-perfect views. Distant villages framed by massive cliffs, and surrounded by endless green meadows covered with yellow flowers. We expected Heidi to pop out at any moment.
The Italian villa estates and European gardens have given way to Alpine chalet-like houses, with window boxes of geraniums and petunias. And, German is widely spoken here (prior to WWI, this was part of Austria!).
But, Oh My! We've almost forgotten the lake! Here it's only been a few days and the wonders of Lago di Garda have been all but forgotten!
Lago di Garda is Italy's largest lake, and its long, long shore is lined with cute village after cute village. We did not stay on the lake but rather in a village (also cute!) a bit above the lake. Paula found a private house to stay in through AirBnB. When we weren't relaxing with Leone in his beautiful garden we were climbing through the hilly streets of the village. We took the ferry across the lake and back, and drove around a good bit of the lake. It is quite lovely.
|The village of Albisano, overlooking Lago di Garda|
|Ferry crossing Lago di Garda|
We spent one afternoon north of the lake, in the town of Arco. Its not so cutesy as the lake villages( it's a real town not just for tourists) , but the old town is picturesque. We climbed, calves aching, to the 11th Century castle overlooking the town for the fantastic views. (The exercise was good, too!).
|The castle ofArco (and yes, we really did climb up here!)|
Tomorrow we will move west, technically out of the Dolomites but still in the mountains. Then in a few days we head south, back to the lake region, this time to Lago di Como.
Which is better? Mountain or lake? We'll let you know!
All for now