2018 Day 57: Apples and The Dolomites

We bid a slightly wistful farewell to Glurns this morning. It would be oh so easy to sleep in, pop out for another leisurely lunch, lap the village once more, watch the sunset light up the mountains, cocktail in hand. But as tempting as it sounds, east we must head, lest we stumble off our plan.

My brain hasn’t quite caught up yet. We’re usually just about to travel home by September’s end, where a mountain of work waits to engulf me. I still find myself sometimes, in those moments caught between sleep and wakefulness, making mental lists, crossing things off, wording emails I need to send. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes my mind to shut that process off.

Our way to the Dolomites takes us through Italy’s apple orchards. We thought Glurns grew a lot of apples, but the scale here is mind boggling. Over a hundred kilometres of plantings of unusual “straight up” apple trees, groaning with the weight of every apple you could possibly imagine including a deep purple one. I know they look like grape vines below, but they’re not, they’re apples trees. Around 7 feet tall, on average.

The apples are huge too, clearly grown with only the top grading in mind.

Picking must only be days away as each orchard is lined with crates ready to be filled for market. This area produces half of Italy’s apples.

Slowly, the Swiss influence falls away and Italy’s character emerges.

We’re traveling through the South Tyrol region, past Merano then Bolzano, surrounded by hills and mountains on both sides.

Gorgeous villages dot the landscape some still retaining their ancient city walls.

Occasionally we spot a single villa set extraordinarily high on a mountain with no visible means of access. The dot at the top of this “non road” is a house, miles up, on a 40 degree incline.

Stopping for lunch proves a challenge – all possible carparks are tiny but we eventually find a spot amongst the apples, even if the restaurant it belonged to was closed.

After lunch, our drive is suddenly on the ascent, through many tunnels, following a mountain stream that eventually turns into a river.

We’ve avoided the motorway (as usual) and have been rewarded with a scenic, if a little terrifying, path. Well I thought it was terrifying, until torrential rain set in for the last part of our journey.

Then it was the stuff of nightmares. Fearless of course took it all in his stride and our faithful steed slipped not once. Meanwhile I whimpered and squeaked the whole way up, all composure lost – I have a strong aversion to plummeting off a cliff.

Late afternoon sees us arrive at the foot of the Dolomites, Italy’s “white mountains”. We’re parked directly under a peak of bare pale grey rock, stunning, even in the rain.

Later when the rain stops and the sun sets, they’re lit up so beautifully, they’d make a cinematographer weep. I can’t wait to explore tomorrow.