We finally got our first taste of Italy together, literally and figuratively.
I was in Italy 7 years ago but this was Ted’s first time, a chance to connect with his Italian roots. He received a few comments on his last name and got to proudly proclaim his Italian, specifically Sicilian, roots. 🙂
Though we’ll visit Italy extensively at the end of our trip, we had a practice round in Bolzano, a small town just south of the Austrian border. It’s so close to Austria that people speak both German and Italian, but German arguably prevails.
We planned to use Bolzano as a brief launching pad for our drive through the Dolomites (Italian Alps) but loved the town/ our accommodation so much upon arrival we decided to stay another day. I’m glad we did, because Bolzano had all the ingredients of a perfect town. The daily outdoor food market, surreal scenery (seriously, the landscape was similar to Kauai minus palm trees and ocean) and local cafes/ gelato/ restaurants made this place HIGHLY enjoyable. We even found a food spot we loved that we went two days in a row. Can you blame us?
If you’re in Bolzano, you have to go to Fishbänke, an adorable restaurant/shack tucked along the main road through town. The place has a beachy, bohemian vibe and they specialize in freshly made bruschetta–SCORE!! They also have apertivo, the cultural concept where you buy drinks, and they keep a small snack (usually potato chips or something) flowing and you can enjoy your company and conversation without worrying about time.
Ted will need to work on recreating the popular drink “Hugo” which was deeelicious. It’s basically elderflower syrup, fresh mint, soda water, and a splash of prosecco.
We went for an evening stroll during the golden hour, equipped with highly delicious gelato, and were amazed by the town’s beauty. Some photos.
The next morning, we got our cardio in by running to pick up our rental car and made use of it by driving to nearby Lake Carezza. The weather was so nice in town and we’d been longing to wear shorts so as silly Americans, we figured if we’re going to a lake, it must be sunny and nice there, too. Wrong. So wrong. We naively drove up there, fresh strawberries and bread in hand ready for a romantical picnic by the lake only to arrive at high elevation, with snow on the ground. Whoops! It was freezing and the lake’s water level was low since there’s still a lot of snow on the mountains but it was beautiful nonetheless. The lake is known for its color and clarity, with light reaching Nearly 60 feet down. We looked pretty stupid in our shorts but we still took some photos, ate a few strawberries, and were excited by our first hint of the Dolomites which we were set to drive the next day.
Sidenote: Tuesday May 3rd was also Beauty’s 18th birthday, so my mom graciously arranged a FaceTime session on her special day. So happy!!!
On Wednesday morning we set out for our drive through the Dolomites and it was so amazing!! Easily the most rewarding drive, complete with switchbacks, hairpin turns, twisties and, of course, massively humbling mountains. A few snaps from our drive with more here. We took the scenic “Grande Strada delle Dolomiti”and it took about 6 hours end to end, including stops to take photos, grab a bite, etc.
There was one particularly pretty section that we wanted to take photos and we even doubled back to try to find a suitable spot. We ended up parking at a closed hotel (much of this region is closed for a few months between April and end of May, the end of winter season to start of summer tourism) and walked to the back, only to see THIS:
SO fortuitous considering we stopped there totally randomly without a soul in sight. It gave me goosebumps! FYI: We have seen Model S in every single place we’ve stayed, with the exception of a deserted island town in northern Germany, and I squeal in excitement every single time! The car’s owner was nowhere to be found, otherwise it would have been great to chat with him or her!!
Ted and I took turns driving (shoutout to my parents for forcing me to drive a manual car….you were right about it paying off ) and it was so much fun!
We finally arrived in Cortina d’Ampezzo to end the official route, and stayed overnight in a family run farmhouse with a deck opening straight out to the Dolomites. Part of the farmhouse experience is their home cooking, which was fanastico! These people are so lucky to live in a gorgeous place and we’re so lucky to have had a sneak peak on their daily situation.
From our room’s back patio:
From there, it was off to Venice in the morning with another 2 hour drive down from the mountains. More on that next time.
Posted from: Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. Interlaken, Switzerland