Walking Holidays

Europe’s majestic mountains ~ with a genuine specialist
Organised & Self-guided Walking

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Tel. 01799 513331 - - Open Today - 9am to 1pmCollett's Ltd. is ABTA bonded W6883 - Travel with confidence
Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

Capital city of the province of South Tyrol, ranking the top spot for the best quality of life in Italy and home to Otzi the Ice Man; Bolzano creates a lot of intrigue to say the least. Only an hour and a half drive from Corvara in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains, it begs to question why you wouldn’t venture out for the day to experience the Italian city lifestyle. So with camera in hand I set off to wander the streets to get a feel for such a beautiful city.

Bolzano’s gothic cathedral

One of many little cafe’s found along the narrow streets

After finding a convenient car park in the centre, I wandered out onto the Walther Platz, a large cobbled square home to the magnificent cathedral dating back to 1184 and a multitude of open air restaurants. I went in search of the main street, Via Portici, which stretches a mile long through the city centre and is home to the main high-street shops. It was quite evident I had come upon it when a slow stream of people pulled me in to join the flow. I noted the ever-popular Sportler and Mountain Spirit on my journey, outlets providing excellent outdoor gear for a mountaineering adventure so close to the city. Although it was noticeably busy (compared to the secluded mountain paths), I never felt suffocated by people and never found myself fighting for space on the kerb.

The one thing that screamed out to me at every turn was the fantastic medieval architecture. Pastel colours of green, blue, pink and yellow stood side by side along busy, narrow streets below. The gothic cathedral and the many castles scattered in the area provide ideal photographic opportunities and will have you standing in awe.
As I wandered to the outskirts of the city, I came across the river Talvera and headed straight for a bridge. Looking over the side, I could see many cyclists passing underneath, heading towards an open field where many people were enjoying a wander and a snooze in the sun. I found a signpost offering 10 different suggested running routes – running, cycling and walking are hugely encouraged by the three-way division of the path. Cycling was evidently the most popular as every street had rows upon rows of parked bikes. Nobody objected to cyclists carefully riding through the streets and it added a conventional feel to the city.

A fantastic grassland
can be enjoyed Just outside the city

A daily market offers fresh fruit, flowers and tempting Italian treats

The 23 museums on offer in Bolzano are very accessible from the centre and I myself came across 3 without even trying. Possibly the most sought after, the South Tyrol museum of Archaeology (dedicated to the Otzi exhibition since the 20th anniversary of his discovery), is a 10 minute walk from the Walther Platz – a must see for the keen historian. Contemporary art and natural history can also be enjoyed in an afternoon; just pick up a free map from the tourist office!
What I feel really adds to this wonderful city are the numerous cafe’s found along the criss-crossing streets. Many sit reading their paper whilst they sip their coffee or afternoon Spritz, momentarily glancing up to watch passers-by. If you fancy some fresh fruit or Italian delights, then the market with its wide open stalls has plenty to offer, and if the tantalising smells don’t convince you to have nosey, then perhaps the genuine friendly conversation with stall holders will.

Bolzano Market

As like many cities, Bolzano has modernized over the years. The buildings have however kept authenticity and the general Italian lifestyle adds a unique feel to the city, creating a contrast of modern and traditional living. With so much history to explore, a collection of museums to visit, many Italian delights (and many ice-cream flavours) to try, Bolzano really does offer a perfect respite between a unique walking holiday in the Dolomites and a flight home back to reality.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Chalet Angelo were offering some high level walking this week and one of the options took guests to Lago di Sorapis, a majestic lake just the other side of Cortina.

As the drive took us to the Falzarego Pass and away from Badia, the blue skies sadly disappeared in the distance as a huge rain cloud hovered above Cortina. Guests sat questioning why they had chosen shorts for the day as organiser Gemma reassured them that clear skies were definitely forecasted! It was a small group of five, including myself, out for the day and the route was new to everybody. We had all heard stories that Lake Sorapis is a place of awe-inspiring beauty so we could not wait to start the walk.

The first hour flew by as we all conversed, getting to know one another. It soon became evident that we were sharing the route with walkers of the Alta Via 3, a long distance hut to hut walk. The traffic built up as we begin the gentle ascent heading for the small section of protected path. One of our guests, Rebecca, commented “If she can do it, then so can I!” as she pointed to a little girl no older than 3 years. The protected ledge, which offered a trustworthy wire to hold on to, opened up fantastic views across the valley as far as the eye could see.

Views across the Gruppo del Sorapis

Soon enough, Rifugio Vandelli poked its head out of the trees in the distance. We all put a bet on how long it would take us before we were sat comfortably enjoying a coffee; at a minute past midday, it couldn’t have been better timing. It wasn’t long before our eagerness to see this supposed majestic lake overcame us, so we plodded the extra 5 minutes up the hill before it came into view.

Lago Sorapis

A simultaneous “WOW” escaped everybody. The pure blue colour of the water, the protruding rock formations in the background and the sudden arrival of sunshine (something we weren’t sure we’d see!) created a picture-perfect scene so commonly found here in the Dolomites. We took advantage of such a place by enjoying a long lunch in the sunshine as the boys headed down to skim stones across the water. Before time escaped us completely, we decided to carry on with our walk at a leisurely pace.

Up until this point, it was difficult to understand why the walk was graded as hard. However, we soon came across an interesting path which incorporated steep ascent, light scrambling and loose rock – nothing our adventurous and sure-footed guests couldn’t handle nevertheless. Reaching heights of over 2200m, views were ever extending and changeable as we wound around the rock face.

Making our way across the protected ledge, hoping for some sunshine

When you go up, you must come down. The last downhill section introduced unstable scree which had some of us down on our bums – sometimes intentionally. Much support (as well as laughs) was offered to each member of the party and we all got down safely, with thanks from our knees. A nice, flat 2km stretch brought us back to swapping stories and having a good old natter before the track brought us out right alongside the van. A great day had by all unearthing one of the many hidden gems found here in the Italian Dolomites.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

By day, Corvara is alive with traffic. Cafés are full with coffee enthusiasts, coaches arrive and unleash excited visitors en masse as cars slow to find a space and cyclists push themselves to the top of the hill. By night, and particularly every Thursday evening in the summer, the road closes and local acts come out to entertain.

It’s between 5pm and 10pm that barriers are laid out to prevent any cars driving through. Almost instantly people take advantage of being able to walk on the road without worry as shops open their doors for late night intrigue. It’s at 9pm that the town really comes to life!

As I headed down to the open air stage, crowds began gathering from every direction in anticipation for the first act of the night. Before long, a group of ladies in long skirts and cowboy boots joined the stage to show off their country style moves. A warm round of applause encouraged the dancers to put all of their effort in, persuading the crowd to tap a foot to the music.

Between acts I decided to have a look inside an inviting building behind the stage. The open room had been filled with impressive water colour paintings for all to browse and enjoy, with each piece representing the Dolomite Mountains. It was clearly a perfect place for parents to respite as I saw many children queuing just outside for the free candy floss and popcorn on offer.

Upon hearing an accordion further up the street, I wandered over to have a look. Two young boys, no older than 12, sat confidently each with their own instrument, taking it in turns to play. Fantastic skill and entertainment surely enriched the dinner being enjoyed by a couple sat outside a restaurant behind them.

Toward the bottom of the street, I saw yet another gathering. Bouncing excitedly down the road I caught a glimpse of men dressed smartly in traditional Lederhosen. As I ducked through the crowd, the men burst into Schuhplattler, a traditional folk dance, rhythmically striking their knees, thighs and soles to the beat of an accordion. It did nothing but bring smiles to people’s faces as the tempo increased and then men churned out some striking high kicks in turn.

To top off a wonderful fun-filled evening, a Zumba group burst into action, blasting out catchy music across the street. With a large area at the back (covered mostly in darkness), it would have been rude not to join in and give it a go. The Zumba-experts let out a cry of encouragement as I jumped into position, promoting the idea to other passersby. The atmosphere during the entire evening was fantastic with a wide variety of entertainment; I might just have to pop back next week to find out what’s in store.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.

Anyone who comes to the Dolomites in search of adventure is surely spoilt for choice when it comes to Via Ferrata. With 76 in the immediate area, it stands to question what makes the Brigata Tridentina so popular for our Alta Badia visitors. Walk organisers ventured out at the crack of dawn to get a feel for the Via Ferrata that receives such bright eyes and beaming smiles from our guests.

Climbers approaching the start of Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina near Corvara in the Italian Dolomites

Upon arrival to the car park just below Passo Gardena, we were not sure how long the walk in to Tridentina would be. However, after following the well signposted ‘Via Ferrata’ for ten minutes, we caught sight of the iron wire – easy! Simultaneously a large waterfall revealed itself which attracted our eye to the iron stemples creeping up the side of the rock and out of view.

Climbing on Via Ferrata Tridentina

The view over Passo Gardena to Sassongher and Corvara

The first hour of the route changed between stemples, iron pins and exposed rock. At no point did the climbing become difficult as stemples were perfectly placed when no visible footholds could be found. As we twisted round the face and climbed higher, the waterfall continued to flow alongside us among the orange-tinged limestone. Easy, manageable hand holds were obtainable throughout which took focus away from the exposure, but having the wire present meant that it could be used if needed. Breath-taking views across Passo Gardena, Corvara, Sassongher and the Fanes National Park opened up during the second hour, encouraging frequent breaks to soak it all in.

Passo Gardena

Climbing the ferrata

A local man of an older generation confidently overtook us at a safe place, whilst exchanging a warm smile and a chirpy good morning. His self-assurance and ability to do this Via Ferrata alone supported the 3B grading that this route has; any age and ability can happily complete this route with little difficulty or skill.

A small, vertical ladder took us almost to the top before bringing to light the spectacular bridge. Balanced between two separate rock faces and supported by numerous iron wires, the bridge sits above a very large ravine from where the road below can be seen – an adrenaline filled experience in itself.

Lago Pisciadu, 2500m
Rifugio Cavazza

As we reached Rifugio Cavazza, a five minute walk once unclipped, the temptation of Lago Pisciadu was upon us. With its pristine turquoise water glistening in the sunshine, we all agreed it would be perfect for a post Via Ferrata swim before heading to the balcony for a well earned Cappuccino and strudel.

For more information on Via Ferrata with Collett’s, Click here.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here.