On our last day we decided to be a bit cultural and made our way to lovely Trento, which was hot and sunny and pretty. That was pretty much the last highlight of our trip to Italy this time, if we don’t mention that thanks to air traffic controllers being on strike (the French ones of course, that goes without saying) the next day, we missed our vote in the brevet referendum.
Given that Sosat was under snow, we decided to do Osvaldo Osat – but alas! the road to that was so bad that we didn’t dare to take carcon, our rented friend too far on it, and had to turn back. What was left was to go back up to Rif. Stoppani and do the Gustavo Vidi, a nice unchallenging horizontal traverse once again (we did this a couple years ago), but this time to finish the whole circle on the other side of the ridge. Weather was fine and views were spectacular, and unlike the last time, there were still fairly large snowfields to muddle through this time (I was trailblazing the way for us of course), so it was actually a bit more challenging up to the Pass dei Tre Sassi.
From there, we needed to drop hugely on the other side through a long and steep scree, which was a bit annoying, but after that it was mostly traversing back towards the rifugio. The only problem was that we were a bit tight on time, to get the last cable car at five. If we missed it, it would be at least a couple of boring hours of descent back down to the road, and we were really not feeling up to that. So, it was a bit of a race, I admit I was losing my hope for a bit there, but eventually we made it with about fifteen minutes to spare – beer never tasted so good!
Got up, packed up the tent, said goodbye to Cortina and headed over to Madonna di Campiglio, for a bit of change of scenery. Had a nice strudel breakfast by the lake. Then we drove merrily out of the mountains and into the sunshine.
Arriving to Madonna in the afternoon, we stopped by Passo del Groste for a quick trip up the cable car to see the snow situation for tomorrow. We pottered around Rifugio Stoppani for a bit, and indeed it seemed that Sosat ferrata still under snow and closed – which was then further confirmed by a couple of German climbers who’ve just been there.
For now, we walked up a bit towards Gustavo Vidi, and the place was alive with marmots. We had especially one fun encounter with the brave soul of the pack who gives the warning to the rest, and who valiantly faced us standing up.
In addition, we saw a great bird of prey, which was truly huge & majestic, of which Iest thinks was an eagle, which probably was not but huge, it really was.
Afterwards we took the last cable car down and found our usual campsite at Adamelo, and – after a little search around – also our usual restaurant for dinner.
The morning sky was overcast but with high clouds so not so bad, so we decided to do a hike & ferratas with the prospect of some beautiful views, in the Nuvolau group. We took the lift to Rif. Scoiattoli, right by the famous Cinque Torri, and from there a nice hike over to ferrata Averau. The views were truly epic in all directions.
We reached Rif. Nuvolau (2.574) in good spirits, and had some tea and snacks. When we walked down to Rif. Averau the weather turned really quite bad, snowstormy with zero visibility. We obviously had no choice but to get us a couple of cakes in the hut, and see if it blew over, as we wanted to do a quick up and down on the ferrata Gusela to the top of Averau (2.649).
Fortunately, after the cakes we had a sunny break, and we quickly ascended the last peak, and downed it the same way but fairly quickly as the weather was coming in again. From there it was already close back to the cable car station, and we got there just in time before closing for the day. By now all the great views were already immersed in fog and it started to rain too, so we were very happy about how lucky we were for the day.
We were pretty tired too, so we took a shower and dropped into Cortina for a nice dinner, with a proper tiramisu today. The usual evening beer in the camp, but off to bed early.
In the morning the sky was fairly clear, sun on the tent, even though some clouds on the ridges. After a hearty breakfast in Cortina we set out to Capanna Rio Gere from where we took a cable car up to Rifugio Son Forca, and from there another one up to Rif. Lorenzi at Forcella Stanniers (2.918m). The weather was not great already, so we were not really convinced to do the whole great ridge of Ivano Dibona ferrata, as visibility was low and it was snowing.
We had a tea at the hut to see if we can wait it out – but it was getting worse if anything. We decided to at least do the very beginning over to the awesome suspension bridge, and then we had to go back down in the funny little pods. The second cable car was not going because of the weather, so at least we had some time for an apple strudel and teas at the hut. Dinner in Cortina and sleeping like babies – the fresh air is doing us good.
And just like that, our fantastic break came to an end. We decided it was best to retire Stinky the tent (by ‘we’, I mean Gina), as he’d given us a lot, and was starting to show his age, and namesake. We dropped him in the bin of the campsite, and started our epic journey back home to Freiburg! Fantastic holiday.
The weather forecast knew exactly what was going on, and for a second day, we woke up to pure sunshine! Excellent news for us, as we were planning to go back up into the mountains for another day of ferrata.
For the second time, we drove up to Campo Carlo Magno, and got ourselves the same cablecar as we did yesterday to all the way up to Rifugio Stoppani (2500m). This time though, we were going to head in the opposite direction, and up towards the mighty impressive Cima Grostè massif, on Sentiero Alfredo Benini via Ferrata. This is what the internets has to say about today’s ferrata:
The Alfredo Benini equipped trail is often seen as the northern extension of the famous “Via delle Bocchette”, the best known and most fascinating high altitude equipped route in the whole Alps.
This Ferrata winds its way in a superlative environment, characterised by the impressive needles of the Grostè, Falckner and Sella peaks. The most challenging part is the final one : from the foot of Cima Sella down to Bocca di Tuckett with a succession of ladders and sections at times vertical and exposed. However, you also enjoy the spectacular views of the Ghiacciaio Pensile (hanging glacier) and Scivolo di Brenta (Brenta chute): a truly extraordinary experience.
From the hut, we walked up into the mountains until we reached a wonderful plateau with incredible views in all direction. We were above cloud level too, which made the view that more impressive.
We continued up towards up towards Cima Grostè, and was greeted by the start of the Alfredo Benini path, marked on a large boulder. We took a moment to kit up in our dashing gear, and took some more impressive photos.
After getting as much photos as we could, we continued along the ferrata – with some it’s impressive suspended ledge that traversed the eastern side of Cima Falkner, and the long downhill section with equipped passages and ladders.. On the decent we stopped again to enjoy some spectacular views of Ghiacciaio Pensile (hanging glacier) and the Scivolo di Brenta (Brenta chute):
Whilst we were here, enjoying the view – our minds went onto the fact that the cable car that we’d taken up, was stopping it’s run down hill in about an hour or so. If we didn’t make the last cable car, we’d be faced with a 3 to 4 hour walk downhill, which we both didn’t fancy doing. So! We changed gear, and walked as fast as we possibly could towards Rifugio Stoppani where we first started our walk. I don’t think we’ve walked so fast in our lives, overtaking everyone, and demanding to know from everyone that came towards us how close we were to the hut. With only 10 mins to spare (no joke), we saw the hut on the horizon. Gina ran into the bar and got herself (probably) the best beer she’s ever had in her life before we had to jump on the last cablecar down towards Claude.
And just like that, we were back down with Claude. Today was Gina’s nameday, so a quick stop off at the store to buy her some chocolate was in order, and a lovely evening pizza meal in our favourite pizzarea for our last evening.
Our next destination was the fashion and design metropolis that is Milan! I *think* we had a leisurely morning over in Levanto, and slowly cruised up with Claude to the big city.
I loved Milan. A very beautiful city, and it seemed there was a lot going on here, but we didn’t fancy hanging around too long, as we’d been watching the weather all week – and we’d spotted that the weather in the mountains was now clearing up, and it looked like there was glorious sunshine up North. After all, this was supposed to be a Ferrata trip!
We arrived at Milan at around 14:00, and the first stop was the glorious Cathedral square.
The Cathedral was mighty impressive, the facade was in-sane. So much detail, with crazy statues and gargoyles decorating the whole thing. We spent a good few minutes walking around the square, admiring the impressive front before heading inside for a ground floor tour – which was impressive! The quality and detail on everything was spectacular!
We then decided to potter around the centre a bit, just to experience what Milan had to offer, and came aross the mighty ‘Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II’ one of the world’s oldest shopping malls – and was filled to the brim with designer fashion shops. From here, we headed back towards the Cathedral for a few more pics, back to Claude, as we had an epic journey on our hands – back to the Dolomites!
Ahead of us we had a 4 hour car journey from Milan to Madonna di Campiglio – back towards Lake Garda and up high into the Dolomites. Once we reached the mountains, it became really dark – and I was driving through a massive thunder and lightning storm, it was incredibly dramatic. we found ourselves a nice camping spot, and settled down to the sound of distant thunder – hoping that the weather reports were correct for the next coming days.
The plan for the day was the amazing coastline hike of Cinque Terre. Here’s what the internets has to say about the area:
Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias turn out seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous sauce, pesto. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages and offers sweeping sea vistas.
Sweeping sea vistas indeed it was! We grabbed some breakfast from Levanto, and sat on the seafront eating with a cup of coffee, and enjoyed the view as some locals took a nice, early morning swim in the Ligurian Sea.
To get to the starting point of the walk, and the furthest village away from Levanto we had to catch the Cinqu Terre train. The train departs at Levanto, and stops at each village along the way. The last stop, and our first village was; Riomaggiore.
Really pretty village, nicely built into the river valley that runs right into the sea. We had fun taking photos of the amazing views, but unfortunately, the skies were completely overcast. We made a quick dash over to the pretty church and square they had, and grabbed a quick cup of coffee before venturing down to the sea front.
Once at the sea front, we could see all the way back to Levanto, and loads of rocky bays weaving in-and-out into the coastline. We started our walk, heading towards the next village of Manarola. Manarola was quite pretty, as it was located just behind a large rock face as we approached it.
Mangrola seemed to be very busy, with a couple of small boats coming into the harbour as we were overlooking form above, and even people jumping from the cliffs into the sea below. Tourist numbers were now also starting to creep up so we decided to continue our journey towards Corniglia.
Corniglia seemed a lot smaller than the other villages so far, and was a bit less dramatic, as it didn’t seem flow down right into the sea, Gina did however make a new friend, in the form of a beautiful, bushy black cat. Gina played with her for a bit, whilst I chilled out.
we continued on, through some vegetation, trees and tall grass, over the rocks towards Vernazza. Vernazza to me was the prettiest of the villages, as it had it’s own little headland cropping out into the sea, and an old looking watch tower at the top, over looking the bay. The village had some really nice narrow, tall streets, with houses built completely ontop of each other.
We decided to have a bit of a rest here, and waited around for the sunset to take some nice photos. However, here in Vernazza, I managed not only to destroy my camera, but also Gina’s lens that I’d been borrowing for the trip. I was trying to overtake some tourists on the narrow steep stairs, and my sandals slipped, causing my camera to swing out and smash against a metal pole. Devastating. From here onwards, I had to fashion together a hack, with duct tape and gentle balance of the lens in order to take the pictures. (My camera never recovered, and I never was able to fix Gina’s awesome lens. Sorry love.)
With that, we decided to catch the train back from Vernazza to our camp at Levanto, as the sun was setting and we were getting tired – so much sea air!
We got up bright and early, and decided it would be a great opportunity to head back over to our favourite square; Piazzale Michelangelo to see it without much tourists, and to try and catch the sunrise. We were greeted to some cloud cover though, but not much tourists. We had a nice little photo shoot, but then decided it was best to hit the road, as there wasn’t much chance of the sun coming through those thick clouds.
We headed West – over to probably the most famous tower in the world; The leaning tower of Pisa. This place was super filled with tourists. Everyone doing the same ‘leaning-against’ photo which was quite amusing. Gina had her own fantastic take on the photo (probably my fave photo ever). We hung around the Piazza del Duomo area for a little while, just trying to get some nice pics – including some 8 pic, stitched panorama of the Cathedral & Tower.
The whole square area where the Cathedral and tower was located was really beautiful, there was some fantastic details on the buildings, but otherwise, we found Pisa to be a bit strange. They had one other gem, the only still-standing Roman parts of this historical city, Baths of Nero which we popped over to see.
After a quick bite to eat, we headed North to Levanto. We found ourselves a beautiful little campsite called ‘Camping Acqua Dolce’ located right in the heart of the village – and had a really nice green feel to it. We setup camp, and headed straight over to the sea, as the whole coastline look amazing. I had a fun time snorkelling around, and Gina had a great time swimming around.
We headed back to the tent to chill for a couple of hours, and made sure to come back for sunset as we knew the light would be amazing with the sun setting right over the sea.
After our awesome photoshoot, and quick walk along the seafront / promenade, we headed back to the campsite for a delicious dinner at the campsite cafe, before heading to bed as we had a big walk ahead of us tomorrow!