Sunday 29th August: Arrival day
To start the journey, you will arrive in Venice by air and then travel via coach to Cortina d’Ampezzo. This town is famous as the “Queen of the Dolomites” in addition to its role in the 1956 Olympics and the model of the Ford car for which it is a namesake. Quaint and cosy, Cortina d’Ampezzo urges you to slow down, to take the moments one by one and to revel in the cool air that is all around you. In the winter it becomes a ski resort, and vestiges of luxury are all around you, the shops including Gucci and Versace selling their wares.
You will stay in Panda Hotel, a spot passed down through a local family and still owned and operated by that same family. Eager to please and make their guests feel at home, the family will make themselves available to you, answering any questions that you may have. You should also be aware that it is this family that has made the trip possible, carving out all the details – so that you know you are getting an authentic and one-of-a-kind experience. Dinner on this first night will be at the local pizzeria. You will meet and speak with your guides, going over all the adventure that is to come.
Monday 30th August: Day 2
Here you will overlook a stunning glacial lake (Croda da Lago) perched high up in a mountain. The lake is such an important part of the landscape that the mountain bears its name, and it is a sight that you do not want to miss. The walk totals roughly 14km, the incline reaching roughly 500m, and for those who believe this would be too strenuous, there is a shorter alternative trail available.
Boarding a bus towards Passo Giau, you will set off at Rucurto from the trails marked 437 and 434. From there you will see Cortina in its full beauty, the exterior peaks in full view. You will travel to a meadow, picture-perfect, flowing with the gentle mountain breeze, which will eventually let out onto the lake itself. Set against the mountain, the lake is a wonder to behold, and you will take your time with it, unwinding at the Rifugio, where you can fill up on food and drinks prior to your return.
Tuesday 31st August: Day 3
At Lagazuoi you will be able to spy the Passo Falzarego and the Tofana de Rozes, as you prefer. The regular trail is roughly 9.5km at an incline of 540m or so, and there is also an alternative trail available. Of course, you could take it even easier for your third day and take the cable car, still appreciating all the sights as you pass them by from the comfort of your seat.
Taking a bus toward Passo Falzarego, you will follow the trail from 402, heading northeast toward Forc Travenanzes. You will then loop around the Col de Bos and the Dolomites, ending right back where you began. On every trail, there are landmarks and views worth stopping for, and before you settle in for the night back in Cortina, you can take in a drink at the departure point. As leisurely or as intense as you want it, this is a walking holiday on your own terms.
Wednesday 1st September: Day 4
Take a breather and rest for a day. You have the option to rent a car from Cortina or hop one of the buses to travel to Venice, one of the capitals of European history and culture. You could take the train to Vienna, where a greenway lines the route, or cycle around the outskirts of Cortina. The choice is all yours (if renting a car, we suggest you book in advance).
Our guides (by now they will be friends) will be available for suggestions and directions, so whatever it is that you want to see, you will be able to see it confidently, knowing where you are going and what to expect. The beauty, after all, is surprising enough – and you should feel sure in your ability to navigate while you are adventuring on your own.
Thursday 2nd September: Day 5
Riding a bus from Passo Falzagero, you will visit Cinque Torri (Five Towers). First though, you will feel the calm of the lush meadow that encircles the mountain summit. Although the trail is rocky at points, it is decidedly friendly, with dream-like landscapes in every direction. Our distance today is roughly 12km with an incline of 400m. On one side you will see Marmolada, the highest point in the Dolomites – at a massive 3,343m.
Peaks that reach up to the heavens, these are mountains that you will never forget. There are historical 20th-century World War I posts that dot the area, you may even spot mountain climbers thrusting themselves into the clouds above. The scenery, the spirit, the magic: this is the reason that you came to the Dolomites.
Dining at the Rifugio (the food is excellent), you will spend the night in clean, comfortable bed sheets, rising early the next morning. An early night is recommended for our sunrise walk next day.
Friday 3rd September: Day 6
Well rested and ready for another timeless excursion, you will head out on our sunrise walk from Rifugio on the morning of the sixth day, coalescing with the trail, which winds at a gentle 320m across 6km of the Nuvolau Mountain. Scheduled alongside the harvest moon, this walk will stick with you for the rest of your life. Everywhere you look there is a memory that you want to imprint and save in your mind. There is beauty that will move your heart and shape your soul.
On return to our Rifugio, you will eat a full breakfast before returning to Cortina by bus. That afternoon you will nap or rent a bike, or take a stroll through Cortina d’Ampezzo, enjoying its bustling cafes and artisan shops, whatever you need to recharge.
Saturday 4th September: Day 7
So it’s the last walk, and as you depart Cortina to Refugio Faloria you will pass cattle and farmland, an ecotourism farm thriving in the area. There is plenty of fresh, delicious food here, and the cheese and meat are some of the best you may ever taste. Take it all in. This is your day, and you have earned it. The walk totals 14km at a relaxing decline of 800m, and there is also a shortened alternative trail.
Snack or feast, recharging your battery before you set out into the forest. This is your chance to engrave the alpine meadows into your heart, to hold onto them for the rest of your life. For your last dinner, you will rejoice with all the great friends who have joined you on this adventure, sharing a meal and reminiscing on all the wonderful times you have had.
Sunday 5th September: Departure day
We fly back from Venice today, so we need to be up early to reach Venice for 10:30 for our flight departing at 12:25.