Posts Tagged With: di

Dolomites, Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm)


After a nutritious breakfast…

… we leave beautiful Villanders to drive further into the Dolomites, hoping to start a 5 day trek.

Here’s a photo of where about the Dolomites are (the lower white end in Northern Italy).

And our Camping spot with beautiful views over the Dolomites…

On our discovery route, we drive through Kastelruth (or Castelrotto) and get to enjoy fantastic views at the Alpe di Siusi (or Seiser Alm). Kastelruth is a lovely Tyrollean village with mural art on the buildings. During winter this is a snow resort town and during summer the gateway to an adventure land full of activities like mountain climbing, hiking, running or cycling.

  

Driving up to the Seiser Alm, an amazing plateau, we have to discover that there is no way we can possibly spend the night here. Cars are only allowed to a certain point and there is only one car park which is monitored by rangers regularly. We return to the village “Seis” at the bottom of the Seiser Alm and try to gather some information on possible hiking trails for the next days. Here we find out that the refuge huts are still closed and that there is still snow in the higher parts of the hiking trails. Our planned 5-Day walking track will not happen but we are still quite happy to go for a day-trek tomorrow.

For today we decide to just go for a walk from our campsite in Seis to a lake we found on the map.
It is a rather cool but sunny day (with clouds) and I’m struggling with a light headache caused by the cold winds, so I end up wearing a beanie.
We first walk through dense forest and just when I’m reminded of my childhood stories of witches and dwarfs, I discover a large rock in the middle of the woods with a sign telling a myth about a pastor who was once killed here by witches. Soon after, we come to an open alpine pasture with dozens of cows and bulls roaming freely. The cow bells are ringing everywhere and one cow curiously walks right up to me, smelling me and my hand. I think I have never been so close and vulnerable to a cow before but even though we were both slightly afraid of each other, I felt very close to this lovely creature. The soft nose touched my hand and the big eyes looked at me with curiosity. I think I really fell in love with cows and I’m glad that these ones here have such a wonderful live. They all were very active, running around, jumping and moo-ing loudly.

Not far and we arrive at a lake surrounded by forest. We walk around it once and then return to Seis via a different route.

  

     

  

This different route leads us past a restaurant and we can’t resist but follow our noses…

    

So after having filled our stomachs with Schnitzel and fries, Logan got stylish for his run.
Here, a photo of the 2012 sport’s outfit:

Logan actually ended up running all the way up to the Seiser Alm and back, he’s just that crazy guy from Down Under who can’t get enough!

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Lago di Scanno

It has been raining all night and I’m so glad we were able to heat the van. There is a new layer of snow only a couple of hundred meters above us.

We quickly unplug electricity and re-connect the hot dog van. Then we make our way up the 25km road to Campo Imperatore, a hotel in which Mussolini was held captive and then freed by Hitler’s SS in 1943.

After only a few minutes we get to a closed boom gate.

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Now the only way to Corno Grande is by foot up the steep snow-covered mountain. Logan seriously considers this option but I remind him that it’s probably quite nasty up there, not to mention the danger involved (which he doesn’t want to hear about). A bit disappointed we leave Fonte Cerretto and head towards another lake: Lago di Scanno. A scenic drive through the mountains and a clearing sky lift up the mood quickly.

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I found a campsite on the lake called “Camping i Lupi” or “wolves camp” supposed to be open year-round. Upon arrival we can’t find anyone, no receptionist nor any guests. Of course! So I call the number provided and hope for the person to speak English and surprisingly, she does! I’m being told that the “guard” is in Scanno with his family and will be at the campsite within 15 minutes, so we just wait.

I read 8Euros for campervan per night and when we’re being told it’s 21 Euros, we are quite shocked. 21?? So he explains (in Italian) that it’s 8 Euros for the Campervan and 6,50 Euros per person per night. Aha! Oh well, we need a place to stay and I was already looking forward to a warm shower and heating. We pick a place right on the edge of the plateau with a nice view over the lake and over to a hilltop village.

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I then grab my towel and toiletry bag and run up to the showers. I can hardly wait to jump under the warm water, as pretty much all my showers so far have been ice cold. I turn on the tap and wait for the water to get warmer. And I wait. And wait… and wait… ! It doesn’t get warm. It’s not ice cold but it’s also nowhere near warm!!! Did we just pay 21 Euros for this? I’m so angry. I hurry to get clean quickly and jump out, looking forward to blow-drying my hair, as my head is cold now. Electricity in the bathrooms doesn’t work either. You just got to be kidding!!! I run down to the van and blow dry myself warm for ages.

Logan wants to go for a bike ride around the lake but since I just had my shower and I know he likes to ride really fast, I think it’s best to let him ride by himself.

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While he’s out, I hand-wash all the laundry in the bathroom. It’s taking me a long time and I’m hoping for Logan to come back soon to help me out. A couple of hours later, I’m still washing clothes, he walks into the women’s bathrooms (no worries, no one else is here anyway) and I smell alcohol and cigarette smoke. “What have you been up to?” His tongue heavy, he says: “I have a plan for us tomorrow!” and it dawns on me. “You and I are invited for Spaghetti tomorrow somewhere! I met some Italians and they are going to take us four wheel driving!”

Hang on?! I have been going on about Italians and their insane driving and now Logan wants me to jump into a car with strangers to go 4WD-ing? No no no no! I’m feeling very uncomfortable with this but Logan says, they are coming to pick us up tomorrow at 11am. Logan has little understanding for my worries and celebrates his accomplishment outside by himself.

Not really knowing who these people are and where we are going tomorrow, I have trouble sleeping…

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Grotti di Frasassi, Europe’s biggest cave system

I open the blinds and squint through the window of our Globetrotter. Half asleep I say: “Caves!” Logan is confused: “What?” So I repeat it: “We gotta go to the caves today, it’s raining!” “Ah!” he replies and turns around for another 5 seconds. Then he jumps up and says: “Ok let’s get going then.”
We make our way to the “Grotti di Frasassi”, Europe’s biggest cave system. I have to admit; I found out about the cave by accident when reading the Lonely Planet guidebook. On the way, we stop at Tolentino to buy a few groceries and to find a shop with TIM sim cards. In a town where hardly anyone speaks English, it is quite a challenge to find the store. Even Google is of no help. Eventually I get a street name off a lady in a 3-Store, another telephone provider. Surprisingly we find the TIM store quickly, just that the service inside the store is anything else but quick. We wait around for what seems like over an hour and finally get served. Yippie, 20Euros and 250MB per week included for free. That’s pretty good and will save a lot of international roaming fees.

It is a rather long drive to Genga because of the mountainous terrain and we got lost quite a few times. The main issue being, that the caves are not in Genga, as Google suggests. No, they are actually 15min out of town. No drama then.
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We park the Globetrotter in a large outdoor car park with only a few cars in it. We are very much out of season, being here in April, which also has the disadvantage of only Italian tours being offered until June.

A bus takes us and about 15 other people to the cave entrance. I see a sign of a photo camera in a red circle, with a line through it. It dawns on me that there may also be no video cameras allowed but I’m still hoping they are only referring to flash cameras. While the woman, guiding us into the cave, runs through her spiel (in Italian!), we get the camera out and try to secretly film the cave. At some point she stops and talks into our direction. Oops! I’ve got no idea what she’s saying but I think she doesn’t want us to film. Soon after we get past a coin-operated photo machine. Great. So why don’t they just sell photo and film licenses then? And who “possesses” this cave anyway that they can forbid taking footage home with you? It almost makes me angry and I keep filming secretly from time to time. Most of the visitors do and we smile at each other with understanding. The caves were discovered 1971 and have been used to conduct experiments in chronobiology. I don’t particularly like to be guided around a place that is so fascinating, especially when not even understanding what is being said. I would rather like to take my own time and to get lost in this different world. I keep discovering holes and smaller caves in the walls high above us and below us and when there is a moment of silence, you can hear the stalactites dripping onto the stalagmites. A tour in English would have probably helped make it more interesting.
Halfway through the cave, Logan turns around at me and says: “I just talked to someone from Currumbin Waters!” I can hardly express what a co-incidence and surprise this is. How unlikely would you meet someone from the other side of the world, in a cave in Italy, way out of season? We haven’t seen any tourists so far and the first ones we run into, are almost our neighbours. Hi Nick and girlfriend (so sorry I forgot your name!). If you read this, say hello and we can catch up for coffee when we’re back. But we’ll surely run into each other sooner or later anyway.

We return to our ‘base camp’ Colmurano and are looking forward to the Monti Sibillini National Park tomorrow (if the weather will allow so).
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