From riding through the streets of Chester on an amazing technicolour Trike, to testing out some Via ferratas in the Central and Southern Dolomites, and trying to speak my ‘best’ Italian to unbelievably hospitable hotel suppliers, this really has been a month of adventures…
At the beginning of the month I met the Rainbow Trike Tours team and was given an exhilarating tour through Chester by founder of the company, Sue, a lady with a great idea and enough passion and commitment to be sure of success.
That weekend I took a group of female choir singers on a walk through the beautiful hills of Snowdonia where we discovered each others passions – mine for walking and theirs for singing. After a weekend of singing “the hills are alive…” we parted with the promise of meeting for more walking and singing in the future!
The end of the month took me to Italy on a research trip to the magnificent Dolomites. Flying to Bergamo and driving first up to Fiera di Primiero, a beautifully picturesque town in the heart of the Dolomites. A place I haven’t visited since 2008, I was once again struck by its magnificence; rolling valleys, pretty towns, white rushing rivers and towering mountains. I knew immediately why I’d fallen in love with the Dolomites in the first place!
On our first day we headed up the mountains to sample an easy Via Ferrata (as described in the book!). After a quick detour to the nearby Refugio, we encountered a group of Male singers, and spent 10 minutes listening to their outstanding voices flowing through the mountains in harmony. Donning our Via ferrata safety equipment, we set off and I bravely sent Jane up first (to get some good pictures of course!). The Via ferrata was short, steep and not for the faint of heart! After 40 minutes of shouting (often expletives!), encouragement, laughter and occasional ‘Elvis legs’, we were back at the Refugio ordering 3 grande Beers! A group of Italians who had been watching us from afar were seemingly impressed with our efforts and offered us their hip flask of sweet tasting grappa which we gratefully accepted and sat in the sunshine chatting.
A rewarding drink!
The next few days were just as adventurous, from taking the wrong road at a crossroads and ending up on the wrong Via ferrata, walking with marmots in the mist, and a night out with the locals. One thing was certain, we were welcomed wherever we went, the locals went out of their way to help us and wanted us to truly see the beauty of the area. I left with a little more Italian learnt, more knowledge of the local area but more than anything a warm heart and a sense of belonging.
Marmots in the mountains…
We headed south to the amazing town of Arco, just north of Lake Garda, to sample some more Via ferratas (and the local wine!). Arco is a mecca for adventure, it really does have everything for the outdoor enthusiast; from cycling, walking, climbing and via ferratas. With quaint cobbled streets, rugged mountains and small friendly restaurants between the trademark Italian squares, and Lake Garda a 5-minute drive away, it’s the perfect place for an adventure mixed with a little relaxation…
The Via ferratas in the area are easily accessible, mixed in ability and variety and very exciting. From an easy Via ferrata up to the top of Arco castle, one directly above Lake Garda with a series of ladders and magnificent views to one that went through a canyon and up through a series of winding paths that resembled something from middle earth, we had the most fabulous experience and adrenaline rush! And always a Refugio, café or bar at the end to celebrate with a beer, prosecco or glass of coke!
Near the top of the Via ferrata overlooking Lake Garda
It was soon time to pack our bags and return home, we had the most fantastic time, made some great connections and although we were sad to be leaving one thing we were sure of – we’ll be back next year for more adventures!!