Italy overwhelms the senses of a culturally deprived American like me. Legendary food, street styles, mixed new and centuries old architecture. The rapid fire language, so distinctive, vaguely familiar to those of us with a smattering of Spanish. If there was any country I’d move to for a “year in Europe” it would probably be northern Italy, in a place with access to world-class mountains. I’m in such a place now.
You might remember a few years ago I rode the bus to Cavalese, Italy, for a La Sportiva “facility” visit. Well, here I am again, loving it. Six hundred year old village, next to the Dolomite just west of Cortina. Clear running trout stream (locals are always quick to remind me that “Yvon Chouindard fished here”) running through the valley known as “Val di Fiemme.” A chain of small villages along the valley floor comprise what’s easily one of the nicest real “mountain towns” I’ve visited in my varied travels. Include world HQ for one of the most authentic mountain equipment brands out there, and you’ve got a mix that’s hard to beat. I’ll get to the gear in coming blog posts. For now, a glimpse of the village.
Here I should mention that I traveled from Austria, taking the train first southerly to Bolzano, Italy, then a local and finally a bus to Cavalese. In particular, the road accessing this high valley is a thing to behold. As the bus first winds through plains and vineyards, you don’t realize that a large mountainside cliff in front of you actually hides the route. You are soon enlightened or perhaps frightened, as the (hopefully) skilled bus driver does practiced moves around switchbacks, clearing the (thankfully) present guardrail by mere inches. Not kidding, the road is blasted into a cliff. Sit in a window seat for the ultimate effect. In spots, you are literally able to look down vertical rock to the previous switchback.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.