Val Gardena, Italy

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  ,
Saturday, February 3, 2007

Saturday Feb. 3rd had us moving from the Austrian Alps to the Italian Dolomites.  The 120 mile distance took us nearly 5 hours to complete!!! Driving in the Italian mountains is no joke.  Unlike Austria, which has numerous tunnels connecting the mountainous regions, here you drive around and over, instead of through the mountain... lots of tiny windy (sometimes icy) roads which you have to share with the Italian locals who seem un-phased by the fact that one wrong move can result in a 5000+ ft plunge.  It was quite an experience. We were happy to be staying in Ortisei which is the first of three towns making up the Val Gardena ski region (the other 2 are St. Cristina and Selva - both are further up the mountain!). 

The Dolomites are located in an area known as South Tyrol. This area used to be a part of Austria until 1919 when the Versatile Treaty redrew the national borders giving the region to Italy.  So while there you get to experience both the Austrian and Italian cultures at the same time... wine bars next to beer gardens! And the people speak both languages too.
We were able to get another apartment for the week. The people whose house we stayed in were really nice and personable. They were a younger couple (early to mid-30's) with 4 boys! Pantea was especially happy to get to know the mom who was interested in homeopathic medicine. They had many conversations on 'alternative' healthcare and the appropriateness of using it for children/infants... of course the language barrier made some of these conversations a bit challenging.  
The ski region here is known for the dramatic and beautiful scenery... according to some it is the most scenic place to ski in Europe. The views were definitely amazing... we tried to take some representative pictures but (as always) it's so hard to capture the true beauty.  We skied the famous Sella Ronda which is a ski circuit that takes you to 5 different cities in the Dolomiti Ski Region... the circuit has 14 miles of runs and 9 miles of lifts. It was really neat to complete this although we were a bit disappointed... the slopes and lifts were so crowded... everyone wants to do the Sella Ronda and it felt as if we were part of a rat race. Nonetheless, the scenery was spectacular!  The town itself was also pretty neat consisting of lots of little shops and cafes.  We enjoyed the culture of this town a lot although we prefer skiing in the Austrian mountains.
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