To escape, temporarily, from the 2012 August heatwave here in Italy, we went to the Dolomite mountains on one of the hotter weekends.
We found an almost affordable hotel room on-line, threw our hiking boots in the car, filled the tank up with “benzine” (over 1.70 euros a litre!) and set off for Cavalese.
Cavalese is a very pretty alpine village. In summer it’s full of colourful flowers and almost as colourful tourists.
Our favourite took us to Laghi di Bombasei, a lake. We had to take 2 cable cars and a chairlift to get to the start of the trail. After that, we did some decent walking.
One of the cable car lines that we took, the Cermis (above), is synonymous in Italy with massacre and controversy.
In 1998, a US military pilot killed 20 skiers aboard the Cermis when he flew his jet too low (and too fast and on an unauthorized flight path). He severed 2 cables, causing a cable car cabin to crash to the ground.
The pilot and his navigator went on trial in the US where charges of involuntary manslaughter were dropped against them. Later, the pilot was sacked from the Marine Corps and jailed for 6 months for obstruction of justice – he’d hidden videotape evidence of his horrific misdeeds. Italians were appalled.
Out of respect for the victims and their families, the above needed to be said. But back to the more banal tone of this blog.
I’m always the most covered-up person on the mountain when I go hiking. I don’t want to get sunburnt! (I took my hat and scarf off for the above photo.)
Italian hikers take a completely different approach: They strip off early in the day and try to soak up as much sun as humanly possible.
Then there are the Nordic Walking enthusiasts. Nordic Walking is basically walking with hi-tech metal walking sticks.
I know I shouldn’t knock something until I try it, but Nordic Walking is not a “sport” that appeals to me. I don’t feel I need specialized equipment to walk, even if I’m going uphill. But, who knows, I may have to revise this view in years to come.
Another slightly bizarre activity that we spotted was that of water pool diving (not its official title). People of various ages wearing helmets, life vests and wetsuits, took turns at jumping into a pool of water at the foot of a waterfall. Yes, well…
There were less physical things to do in Cavalese. We visited a contemporary art gallery, Centro Arte Contemporanea Cavalese, which had an exhibition of curiously life-like yet decidedly inanimate human-like sculptures. (In other words, these sculptures were just a bit creepy.) There were paintings, as well, that invited deep, deep contemplation, but let me not get trapped in that vortex of serenity again.
After dark, there were free concerts in the main square. These were watched by hundreds and thousands of people with their dogs and children. I didn’t last long at the concerts. I was exhausted after all the hiking and had to go back to the hotel to sleep. I am definitely not Italian. I cannot stay up all night.
I felt cooler and saner after the weekend in Cavalese. It was a very, very welcome respite to the severe heat of the plains.