Postcards from Italy: The Val Gardena

13 Sep
13 September 2018.
We are wrapping up two weeks in Italy’s Dolomites and what a two weeks it has been! While hiking on the Alpe di Siusi one day we stopped to help a couple who were confused by the trail map they held. “You look familiar!” exclaimed the wife. “Don’t we know you? You wrote a book!” Our first celebrity moment. Thanks Judy and Andy! You made our day!

Ric on the deck at Rasciesa before our hike.

Our hosts now for three years, Justine and Siegfried at Residence Astoria seem like old friends. Their cat, Minno, was newly adopted during our visit in 2016 and now he is a strapping lad. As luck would have it, another couple who have our book is staying at Residence Astoria! Cathy and Gene from Auburn, AL are here and hiking using our guide. Turns out we share an affinity for the Berner Oberland as well.

The red cable cars emerge from the fog as we ascend to the Alpe di Siusi. We decided to go on a foggy day and found tranquility but no rain.

Blissful foggy day on the Alpe di Siusi. Very few people bothered to ascend but we enjoyed the fog.

We’ve explored some easy hikes to add to the book and we have taken some ridiculously difficult trails that we will not include. One night we splurged and stayed on the Alpe di Siusi in a lovely old hotel (we are not the rifugio types) so we could hike more easily there for two days.

Below the cable car at Seceda in the Puez-Odle Park there is a madness of marmots.

New to us, a short and scenic hike at Passo Gardena. It will be featured in the next edition of our book.

I am grateful my Italian comes back to me when we are in Italy but here in the Val Gardena — it was part of Austria until WWI — my high school German floods back and I find myself substituting German words when I forget the Italian. The locals often switch between the two languages in casual conversation so I fit right in.

We enjoyed watching these goats play while eating lunch at Malga Laranzer in the Alpe di Siusi.

The Sciliar and Punto Santner stand guard over the west end of the Alpe di Siusi. Our view over a cappuccino.

On the trail to Col Raiser, above Santa Cristina. It was a lot of work to get here!

There’s been pizza (3 times), apple strudel (also 3 times), and canederli (once is enough) along the way, and lots of good Lagrein, the local red wine. Luckily all offset by our average of 19,000 steps per day!

Pizza with anchovies and mozzarella di bufala at La Tambra, Santa Cristina.

Next stop, Innsbruck.
A dopo!

18 Responses to “Postcards from Italy: The Val Gardena”

  1. mvaden1948 September 15, 2018 at 09:16 #

    Are they really called “a madness of marmots?” How delightful….I was amazed when I learned it is a “clowder of cats”!
    Your pictures are definitely better than the ones Rick Steves takes but he does get professional photographers in to do his photo travel workshops (I’ve been to a few). And you definitely write better than he does but then you each have your own niche to fill.
    Although I’m not a hiker (never was) I’m enjoying your trips though.
    Guess I can’t suggest you pet the marmots for me…although the one in your picture looks friendly.


    • Laurel September 15, 2018 at 09:43 #

      Yes a “madness” it is! I had to look that up. And that little one was responding to a whistle by a mate. I think he would gladly bite my hand off!

      Thanks for the kind words about our pictures (half are my husband’s work) and writing. Definitely a niche for me. I do it for memories and friends. Like you! Hope you are well!


  2. gayleseely September 14, 2018 at 07:55 #

    Everything looks delicious. Including the food. And I can almost smell the air – it is so clear and fresh there. I am so glad you are doing this. Your are an example for me – I am hoping to recreate your footsteps down the line. Gayle


    • Laurel September 14, 2018 at 09:23 #

      Ciao Carissima! We are already planning to come back in 2020. You can come too!


  3. Christine September 13, 2018 at 17:46 #

    Great trip report and lovely photos! Which “lovely old hotel” did you stay in on the Alpe di Siusi?


    • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 20:31 #

      We stayed at the Hotel Steger-Dellai. We’ve stayed at the Hotel Saltria as well as the Alpenhotel Panorama before so we thought to try one new-to-us. I love the half-board option for a night or two.


  4. Mary Henry September 13, 2018 at 10:51 #

    What out Rick Steves, you have a very good travel writer on your heals .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 11:23 #

      Hahaha! I do think my pictures are better than his. 😉


  5. Chloe September 13, 2018 at 09:52 #

    Beautiful scenery. The Dolomites are so incredible. You can even find pizza in the high alps? We just went to a new restaurant in La Fleche for pizza. The chef is from Naples. Too thick a crust for me but that’s how they seem to make it in Naples. Have fun in Insbrook. Are you going to Rome?


    • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 11:22 #

      Not to Rome this year. We are moving on to Switzerland after Innsbruck!


  6. Marcia Kakiuchi September 13, 2018 at 09:40 #

    I am so proud that you are now a celebrity in a foreign country. I bet you were so excited as I would have been. The scenery is unmatched. Especially that picture of the delicious pizza (haha). Honestly, when I showed Marc these photos, he said ‘we need to go hiking there’! Thank you for sharing. Keep sharing. We love it and missed you when we passed through Lincoln City.


    • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 10:22 #

      You must come here! Youàd love it! So sorry we missed you, too!


  7. Claudia Moore September 13, 2018 at 09:39 #

    I’d love to know about the ridiculously difficult trails you did! I’ve loved your photos. Can’t believe your two weeks are over already. A big part of my heart is always there.


    • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 09:50 #

      We’ve been trying to find a hike from Seceda to Col Raiser that didn’t kill our knees and quads. We tried one three or four years ago that was beautiful but very punishing. This year I thought I had one scoped out using trails 6 and 2, but it was very hard downhill for us. I would have hoped all that time in the gym would make it easier, but my knee (injured on a hike in 2016) and Ric’s quads were complaining mightily!


      • Claudia Moore September 13, 2018 at 10:10 #

        I’ve found it helps to break up the walk with stops at a rifugio. As you know, there are several good ones up there. This year I hiked up to the pointy areas (odles) including where the trailhead starts to go down to Brogles (which I would NEVER do in a million years–either up from it or down to it). The walk down to Col Raiser from there is pretty much the same as starting at Seceda. I try to leave plenty of time to have a stop at hutte (Troier or any of those up there) and then take my time coming down. But, knock on wood, I’ve not had injuries of any kind with either knees or hips–although sometimes they yell with overuse. So I can imagine how it might be with problems.

        The hike up to the top (I have never used the Seceda chairlift from Ortisei) from the Col Raiser lift (that is what I’ve always done–I’ve never walked from the valley up to that point) is a nice stretch of the legs for me. 🙂


        • Laurel September 13, 2018 at 10:24 #

          Oh we are big fans of stopping at rifugi! Still some of those trails just do not fit the °easyhiker° profile. They would be very hard for kids or people not in good shape!



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