Strolling The Beautiful Dolomites in Italy

Santa Magdalena, Funes Valley, South Tyrol

The Dolomites mountain range is said to be a ‘heaven on earth’. We had the opportunity to travel there for 6 days and 5 nights during the autumn of 2017, and there’s no doubt that the beautiful landscapes truly lived up to their name. The Dolomites form the northern-most arc of the Alps, which spans 1200km through the south of France, Switzerland, Italy, germany, Austria and Slovenia. Several tourist towns lie close to the  region, such as Bolzano, Trentino and Venice.

Dolomites covers 350,000 acres, or 140,000 hectares of land, and is home to 18 different mountain peaks. With the time that we had, it would’ve been impossible to visit the entire region, but we managed to throw together a pretty nice agenda nonetheless:

  • Day 1 : Flight from Paris to Milan, driving from Milan to Brixen. Checking into Isarus Residence.
  • Day 2 : Santa Magdalena, Val di Funes, South Tyrol
  • Day 3 : Val Gardena – Alpe di Siusi
  • Day 4 : Checking out of the hotel. Go to Sas Pordoi and up the tallest peak in Dolomites! Driving to Verona, night photography, and then checking into Hotel Maxim.
  • Day 5 : Check out, drive to a (unexpectedly cloudy) Lake Garda, Verona.  Driving from Verona to Milan.  Check in Hotel Abacus. Visiting Sesto San Giovanni.
  • Day 6 : Checking out of the hotel, then walking around Milan. Flight from Milan to Paris in the evening.

Our journey began with the flight from Paris to Milan, renting a car from the airport then heading east towards Venice (that we had visited 2 years beforehand, still tempted though!) and turning midway to head north. After 4 hours on the road, weaving between tall mountains and over deep valleys, we arrived at the little town of Brixen (Bressanone) where we were staying – around 40km north of the slightly larger tourist town of Bolzano.

Brixen is 560m above sea level, whereas the peaks of the Dolomites range between 2200m to 3340m above sea level. You can visit the region at any time of the year for tourism and photography. Sports such as hiking, biking, and rock-climbing are available in the summer. In winter, the snow transforms the region into quite a popular ski resort within Italy. And for good reason – being a mountain range with the most beautiful views in the world, Dolomites was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

We stayed in Isarcus Residences, a 1-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette and sofa bed, which was very accommodating and comfortable for our family of 4. After spending the first day travelling for so long, all we wanted was to relax and eat some pizza – after all, Italians make pizzas the best…!

Santa Magdalena, Val di Funes, South Tyrol

On Day 2, we went to Santa Magdalena by car, a small village situated near Funes Valley or Val di Funes, South Tyrol province. It is around 30km north-east of Bolzano, with an altitude of around 1400m above sea level. The Church of Santa Magdalena resides here, on stretch of valley and green meadows, with the Odle mountains in the background.  This site is undoubtedly one of the most popular photography spot  of the Dolomites.  According to the history, the first building of the church was built in 1394, of which only the church tower remains today.

Santa Magdalena, Funes Valley, South Tyrol

We were very lucky that the day was so sunny and clear when we visited there.  The road trip from Brixen to Santa Magdalane was a wonderful one on its own, as all the way to the location were lots of beautiful sceneries, so we had taken opportunities to stop at few places to take photos.   As we arrived at location, it was already a lunch time.  Not many places opened for lunch at that time, but we were lucky enough to find a small restaurant which served delicious home cooked food.  After the lunch, our energy was restored to explore the area, taking many photos and flew the new drone that we just bought few days before our trip.  We also greeted few tourists and photographers from different countries including few from Indonesia.

Alisha enjoyed the warm sunny day
Many different photos spots on the way to Santa Magdalena
A closer look at Santa Magdalena church

Brixen (Bressanone)

The town Brixen where we stayed was also quite pretty.   We took opportunities during morning or evening time to explore this little town as we searched for breakfast or went for dinner.

Fountain in Brixen with bronze statue of St Michael killing a dragon
Beautiful scene during morning walks …..

Delicious Italian cuisines…
Always love pasta
So yummy deserts …
Wanna try this bike …. 🙂

Val Gardena – Alpe di Siusi

The third day was even more exciting as we hiked in Alpe di Siusi, part of the Val Gardena valley.  This spectacular place was reached by riding cable car from  Funivia Ortisei which brought us to Mont Seuc at 2000m elevation.   The cost for cable car was around 20 Euro per person for the round trip.  There is a restaurant at the top, and also various walking trails that we could follow depending on the time and distance we prefer.

Remember though that the cable cars in Dolomites do not operate every day through the year.  At the end of October, there are probably only 2 or 3 cable cars that operated in the whole area.  We were there on 31st October 2017, the second day before this cable car closed for the season and would be opened again during the winter!  It is always a good idea to find the information about their openings either from internet or checking out the tourist information center to get the schedule of the cable cars to avoid disappointment.

Very beautiful places to walk, hike, run and cycle… as you like
… and to take unlimited photos !

There are dozens of walking / running trails in Alpe di Suisi with the distance up to around 20 kms.  During the summer, this is a very recommended place for runners, hikers and cyclists.  We ourselves only took some walks for around 2 – 3 km at the time, and spending more of our time to take photos and enjoyed the sceneries of the beautiful mountains.    We also took some footage videos with our new drone.

Horses enjoyed their lunch
Alpe di Siusi – Val Gardena
Alpe di Siusi – Val Gardena
Chair lift for skiers during the winter
Alpe di Siusi – Val Gardena
Nice weather, nice walk, best scenery, best smile….
And here we are in Dolomites !!
After strolling the valleys, we enjoyed a cup of latte, with the afternoon sunshine… ….

Sass Pordoi

This was the fourth day of our trip.  Sass or Mountain Pass, is a navigable route through a mountain range for human or vehicles.  Sass Pordoi in Dolomites is located between the Sella and Marmolada group of mountains with the altitude of 2239 meters.  This is the second highest pass in Dolomites after Sella Pass.

We drove our car until reaching Cable Car Sass Pordoi.  We bought round trip tickets for the cable car (around 19 Euros per adult and 11 Euro for child).   The scenery as we rode the cable car was breathtaking, especially after we reached the top Terraza Delle Dolomiti at the elevation of 2950m!  There was a cafe / restaurant as we reached the top.  At the time the temperature was so cold at around -2 degrees Celcius, so we could not stay too long outside and also we could not operate our drone due to possible damage or shortening life of its battery at this low temperature!

Scenery at top of Sass Pordoi
Scenery at top of Sass Pordoi

Try to hold minus 2 deg Celcius to get the desired photo shot !
Still laughed out loud at the cold temperature at 2950m
Amazing afternoon at Sass Pordoi
Yayyy… we are here …

 

Wall map of sass pordoi

Verona and Lake Garda

We got off from Sass Pordoi already late afternoon just before the sunset.  We drove directly to Verona which distance was around 212 km and took around 3 hours by road.  Before we checked in at the hotel in Verona, we took the time to take photos of Verona at night.  The best place to take photos is at the hill of Castel San Pietro.  This location could be reached by quite distance walking-up-stairs till the top, or also by car.

Verona at night, taken from the hill of Castel San Pietro
Verona at night, taken from the hill of Castel San Pietro

We stayed overnight at Hotel Maxim Verona.  The following morning after breakfast, we checked out rightaway, then drove towards Lake Garda which was around 40 km from Verona.  Although at the time the weather was quite cloudy, nonetheless we still could enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Lake Garda.

We also took time to see center part of Verona, and took photo in front of Colosseum / Arena Verona.  Then we continued our journey in the afternoon to Milan and stayed overnight at Hotel Abacus, Sesto San Giovanni.

Milan

This is the second most populated city in Italy after Rome.  This city is well known in the world as the fashion city.  Around 8 millions visitors come to Milan each year, it is mainly due to many different touristic attractions such as museum and art galleries that show thousands of collections, including ones from Leonardo da Vinci.  This city is also the home of famous football clubs AC Milan and FC Internazionale.

Bike rental in Milan
Famous Milan Cathedral

Sebastiao Salgado exhibition in Milan “Un Deserto in Fiamme” / A Desert in Flame

 

Best opportunity to explain to Aya and Alisha about “Oil Well Blout Out”
Sforza Castle – Milan, from 15th century, now became location of several museum and art galleries.
Sforza Castle – Milan
Lunch at Farinella Restaurant – Milan
Alisha, Pasta and Tiramisu…

“So that’s it….  Ciao Italia…. this is not going to be the last visit to Italy… as I want more and more pasta !! ” (Alisha…. )

Check out our video too …. 🙂

 

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