We will meet in Venice, then travel by private bus to the historic ski village of San Martino di Castrozza in the middle of the Dolomites.
From there, we will hike to a series of “refuges” which are more like small mountain hotels, each run by family and serving hot breakfasts and dinners, then packing a lunch for the next day’s hike.
We will pass through lush forests and flower-filled meadows, then into the world of rock and snow, all the while
with massive granite towers looming overhead — some of them dotted with climbers who have come from all over the world to tackle them.
We can take on our own climbs, if we wish, making use of private guides and the “vie ferrate” or “iron roads” system of ladders and cables.
These allow us to scale rock cliffs that might be beyond most of our abilities, but with mechanical help and a professional, local guide, you can feel like an Alpine master. Some of the vie ferrate are much less intense and offer a mild adventure well suited for those who prefer a flatter walk.
For those not feeling quite that adventurous, we will have daily hikes as well — perhaps following a trail to a mountain lake, or a pass with a spectacular view of hilltop villages far below.
Plus, we will stay in several different rifugi along the way — some of them in forest, some of them close enough to grazing sheep to hear their bells at night, and some of them so high up in the rocks that you can hardly believe they were ever built.
In fact, on many days you will have the option of not hiking at all, taking the time to relax at the refuge or explore the area on your own.
The Dolomites are actually a cluster of mountain peaks, and after several days exploring the heights above San Martino di Castrozza, we will take a day to explore the ski town, perhaps taking in some adventure sports, and then transfer to a whole new region, the Val di Fassa.
Here, we have several more days of hiking, climbing, exploring or relaxing, each night returning to our rifugio for a hot meal, stories, and meeting our fellow hikers from all over the world.
When the hiking is done, we return as a group to Venice, where we have another night in a family-run three-star hotel in the city’s historic center.
The trip begins and ends in Venice, which is a short drive from San Martino di Castrozza. The cost of $3,400 per person includes all your transportation within Italy, accommodations, guide services, and meals — basically everything but souvenirs once you get to the hotel in Venice.
For more information, contact trip leader Paul Gerald. And get ready for the hiking trip of your dreams.
Here are a few more photos to whet your appetite: