Oh my goodness, have I mentioned how cold it gets overnight in the mountains? The temperature doesn’t drop, it plummets. Just as well the days are so gorgeously balmy – I really need encouragement to get out of my cozy nest this morning.
Our journey east continues. The mountains are seemingly endless – I thought we’d pass them during the day, but after a full day’s driving, much of it in the Dolomites national park, they’re still all around us. Each turn offers a new view, raw and wild. The violence which the Earth’s plates slammed together to create this area must have been extraordinary.
Understandably, the whole region is a skier’s paradise. Nestled within the mountains are chocolate box pretty ski chalets, bedecked with flowers, charmingly carved wooden balconies and firewood stacks.
The only thing missing is the snow. Whilst the purely snow driven pommas still idle, there are plenty of cable cars offering summer tourists nosebleed views.
The roads continue their terrifying array of hairpin turns, zooming up mountains only to hairpin down, on an endlessly repeating loop one after the other. Just as I think my nerves can take any more, a new view takes my breath away, and I steel my resolve and pack my desire for flat land away.
Fearless calmly navigates it all without a second glance. Typical. The man must have ice running though his veins.
We make good distance today, driving though Cortina d’Ampezzo, Auronzo di Cadore and Forni di Sopra. Despite this we manage a few stops to take in views, stretch our legs and search for the micro beauty in this endless, breathtaking macro landscape. On one such stop, I run into a favourite photography subject: mushrooms. It’s an autumnal bonanza. Gorgeous flowers too.
One thing has us a little stumped – all of snow fields have been bereft of bakeries. Where their bread comes from is a complete mystery. Likewise supermarkets (even tiny ones) and petrol stations. Nada. The locals must drive miles for basic needs.
We have a false stop mid afternoon, by a turquoise lake, but Himself seems it unsuitable and moves us on. Sigh. I had mentally settled. But no, there are many more scary roads to come.
The last part of our drive takes us through golden eagle country – huge birds with 2 metre wing spans. Hopes of spotting one keeps my eyes firmly on the skies, which works really well, until I accidentally look down sheer drops at inopportune moments.
We eventually settle in a ski field, in Forni di Sopra. It’s very late afternoon, and we’re both a bit over it by this stage.
Luckily the ski bar is open and offering porchetta in fabulously crisp ciabatta (clearly flown in by fairies) and pizza. Along with a few good reds, they go down a treat. Simple fare, in with the locals. There’s even a sassy tabby cat to pat. Works for me.