Rendezvous in Bressanone* and travel through the splendid green hills that soon give way to the spectacular Dolomite mountains. We take a 2-hour walk above Cortina, where remnants of WWI trenches are in sharp contrast to the blissfully tranquil mountains. Over a welcome lunch, our experienced guides will share their knowledge of the trails with you. Most days our walks are at an altitude of 2000- 2400 meters (6500-8000 feet) with alternate lower level walks in case of uncertain weather conditions. Optional cablecar ride (not included) from Passo Falzarego up to Rifugio Lagazuoi, to enjoy one of one of the finest overlooks in all of the Dolomites, with views stretching to the Austrian Alps. Transfer to a lovely 4-diamond hotel in the center of the pedestrian zone of Cortina, our home for all four nights, so we unpack just once and settle in. Encircled by mountains, Cortina is in a perfect position for exploring the best hiking trails as well as practicing the great sport of people watching. After an aperitivo on the terrace, a superb multi-course dinner awaits us at our hotel.
*If continuing from the Wildflowers tour, you don’t go to Bressanone, but have a leisurely morning in Cortina and meet at our hotel at 11:30.
We rise early to get the first van transfer into the national park where we may be lucky enough to spot sure-footed ibex with their great curved horns, dashing along the steep cliffs. This tranquil area is dotted with small lakes and dewy meadows and you may find an isolated malga - alpine dairy farm - offering cheese or milk for sale. After a long, beautiful climb we arrive at a creaky wooden rifugio precisely at lunchtime, and make a steaming bowl of minestrone disappear in record time. Continue along a wide trail with several options for returning to our starting point (4-6 hours). Dinner in our hotel dining room.
We begin in a high alpine pasture dotted with bright blue gentians and follow a fascinating trail that alternates from stark, rocky outcrops to lush green pasture, with wide-open views throughout the day. Stop at a pretty lake below the striking red rock mountain of Croda Rossa and indulge in a hearty lunch at a turn-of-the century rifugio. Continue our walk along a bucolic trail to the outskirts of Cortina. Free night for dinner.
We drive to the top of Passo Tre Croci where our exciting 5-hour walk begins. We follow a shady path to a spectacular alpine lake, its dazzling turquoise color in resplendent contrast to the sheer rock mountains. If you dare, you can cool your feet here, but the water is icy cold! Stop for a snack at a rifugio before a long climb, breathtaking in every sense of the word, to a vast, rugged valley, where herds of chamois are often grazing. Stop to admire the stunning views of the many peaks we have hiked this week, then wind down along a path lined with wild rhododendron. Return to Cortina for some last-minute cashmere shopping before heading out to dinner. Dinner will be in our hotel dining room, followed by a grappa tasting for the daring.
Transfer to the Venice Mestre train station by noon. Arrivederci!