Sunday, September 13, 2015

Detours and winding roads

     Today is a driving day as we make our way west along the Dolomite range to Siusi Allo Sciliar in the Alpe di Siusi. The northern highway goes up the mountain out of Cortina then turns west toward Val Gardena, Ortisei and Bolzano. We go above treeline, passing many rifugios and hiking trails in sections of the Parc Nationale, before stopping at a gray and barren rocky area of a war museum. If you remember from the previous blog, long distance footpaths were created in WWI; there are several that descend from this road with rifugios along the way. We resume our drive and wind our way down through dense pine forests to a town that resembles a snake stretching out along the narrow valley. 
     It is bike race day and the road is closed at Covarin! At the detour sign, I spot a local shop and find fresh cheese and speck, a lightly smoked Italian ham for tomorrow's picnic. The detour is along the autostrada north of the Dolomites but getting there involves driving through a multitude of small towns, on narrow winding roads with Porsches, Ferraris, motorcycles and very fit bicyclists. This is backroads Italy - past fortresses, terraces of espaliered apples, bundles of hay, tall steeples and forested hills. We finally arrive in Siusi in the mid afternoon. Siusi Allo Sciliar is a small village at the base of the Alpe de Siusi, an alpine plateau or meadow of trails, reachable by cable car. 
     I open the window in our room at Garni Alpin and hear the oompahs of a German band just up the road. Eager to explore, we head across the street to find a church fair, complete with German band dressed in full costume! Booths sell bratwurst, chicken, beer and kapfen, a traditional pastry of the area, rolled pie dough brushed with a pear/brown sugar mixture, folded over, stretched thin and deep fried. It is a local Catholic church celebration of a their patron saint and a band is now playing under the covered stage. We gorge ourselves on bratwurst and kaiser roles, kapfen and Weisbier. It is a spontaneously fun filled afternoon spent with German families and soaking in local culture. 
     Light rain is falling and forecasted for the next two days. Since hiking in the rain doesn't excite us and since photography at such altitudes is only good when skies are clear, we are hoping that weather forecasters are wrong this time! Stayed tuned...


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