Margot in Vacanza Italy 2019 - Part II: the dolomites

In Part II of Margot’s Holiday the game changed.

Two words: Cable Car.

Now, before this holiday the only people we knew who caught cable cars were Lady Penelope, Tin-Tin and Parker.

Here they are on their way up to the Paradise Peaks Hotel.

The Cass Carnaby Five were in residence playing their smash hit “Dangerous Game” to an enraptured audience. “Isn’t he gorgeous!” says Tin-Tin (hose yourself down, Tin-Tin).

But I digress.

Below you see our first cable car - Col Raiser.

We were out of season. The summer walking season was just about over as the school holidays had finished. Most of the Dolomites ski resorts had closed their chairlifts but a few of the larger cable cars were still running, and this suited us fine.

A cable car would generally take you from down in town up to the top of the ski fields, whence it was then possible to follow nice walking tracks and enjoy the views.

There were a few people around but everything was pretty empty.

On our walks we also got used to the concept of the rifugio.

Technically rifugio means “shelter”, but in reality it means “sit in the sun and have an Aperol spritz and snack served to you by a wintersports model of noble birth who speaks seven languages and holds joint degrees in International Law and Astrophysics, for less than it costs for a glass of house wine at home”.

We had been looking for mountain bikes to hire again, but being Italy, the information on signs and websites and from the person in the information office was all wrong. But again, being Italy, one day we just found some bikes for hire at the top of the mountain and it worked out really well.

We seemed to have scored an extra week somehow, which only became obvious as we looked at our calendars as we went along. Because things were quiet we were just booking places to stay a day or so in advance depending on the weather.

The next pass we travelled through had snow. And a real-deal cable-car up to 2800m.

This is the view from the top. From the bottom it looked scary enough to give us second thoughts but I got chatting to a yank who told me how great it was. The fact that he was a US Navy submariner should have sounded a warning I guess.

And here is our Thunderbirds cable car again of course. It was built in the 1960s and upgraded in the 80s. It is one of the ones where there are no towers the whole way up, just a cable and two cars, one of which goes up while the other goes down, pulled by smaller cables.

The reason Margot is hanging on the ferrata here is that she’d found out there were some WWI tunnels dug in to the mountains near this pass (Falzarego) We climbed down and checked them out, but could not work out why you’d dig them in the first place. This is the view from the top - it was scary going down but less scary going back up.

After the pass we settled for our last four nights in the Dolomites in a little town called Selva Di Cadore.

Because we seemed to have more time than we expected we learned a bit about the region and its history. Much of the region is UNESCO World Heritage, and the look of and feel of the little towns has not suffered as much in the transition from rural to tourist as it might otherwise have done.

In the days of the Venetian empire the region supplied a lot of the trees the Venetians needed to bang in to the mud and use for the foundations of their buildings.

I assumed it would be hard to move them in winter, but no, it was easier to slide them down on snow than move them without roads. Then, when you got lower down you could float them along rivers down to Venice,

Another thing our region had was mines for iron; the volcanic activity in the area was somehow related to deposits of a kind of ore that was especially good for swords. So logging, mining and transport were the local industries.

So after hanging round for gentle walks in our little mining/logging town, we got ready to head off for the last part of Margot’s Holiday - Venice.

If you want to go back and see part one, it’s here: https://spark.adobe.com/page/Cj7fXVIMGAyVM/

Created By
David Hume