Where to go in the Dolomites?

Old Sep 9th, 2009, 01:53 PM
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Where to go in the Dolomites?

DH and I are spending a week in Tuscany with friends at La Foce next June, and we'd like to spend another several days somewhere else in Italy.

DH has always wanted to see the Dolomites, so I'd like to explore the possibilities there, but I don't even know where to start searching.

Would like to hear from any fodorites who have found a nice central town to stay, either in a medium priced hotel, or perhaps an apartment, though we will not stay a full week.

We also thought of Le Marche, where a friend lives, but she is selling her house, so may not still be there.

Of course we could also go to Rome, or Venice, both of which we love, or Bologna, (where we have never been.)

We will probably fly in and out of Rome, though it would be nice to fly home from Milan if we are way up in the Dolomites.

Many thanks for any help.
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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We spent a week in the Dolomites in July and found the villages of the Val Gardena to be very centrally located--with spectacular scenery. Actually, we could have spent all week there without ever leaving the valley. Here is our trip report in case this is helpful. We've included some links to sites that were very helpful in planning.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...o-daughter.cfm
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 03:20 PM
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There are folks on this site who are very experienced in this area. We have stayed several times in Castlerotto and been totally satisfied, others like Ortisei. We like to hike and sightsee by car and find the area stimulating for scenery, food, and cultural ambience. The Alpe di Suise is a spectacular preserve reached by gondola or cable car which has a network of trails, lifts and huts serving food and drinks. I prefer it to the swiss alps in many ways.

The area is reached via Bolzano, then up into the mountains. Excellent hotels in the tiny village--Albergo Zum Turn and Gasthof zum Wolf are two bright, cheery tyrolian places we have stayed in. Have fun.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 01:59 AM
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Hi Tac - I regularly stay in Ortisei, Val Gardena - which I find an ideal base for touring and for lift access.

http://www.valgardena.it/en/

There is a great choice of hotels/B&B's in Ortisei - and throughout Val Gardena. I usually stay at this attractive Tyrolean-style B&B (3*)

http://www.hotelvillapark.com/eng/index.html

Steve
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 08:01 PM
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Wow, guys, thanks so much. these are all very helpful and I will follow all the leads. Now I have a really good starting point.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 08:28 PM
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ms_go: OMG I just realized that I have read your report about the July trip, and loved the photos, and then I promptly forgot!! sorry about that - it has nothing to do with your great reporting and equally great photos -

I started reading it again, and I realize that I am really a wimp, because I don't think I'll be going in that telephone booth gondola. I prefer the giant ones, thanks.

However, whether I can make myself get in a gondola or NOT, (fear of heights) I think we will go to the val Gardena, and I look forward to reading your report again!
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Old Sep 11th, 2009, 04:32 AM
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taconictraveler--I'm really don't do well with heights either, and it's hard for me to get on some of these lifts (I actually find the big cable cars that go straight up cliffs to be worse). I have to take a deep breath, find someplace to focus my attention other than down, and keep reminding myself that the views at the top will be worth it. And, they always are.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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when is the best time to go to this region? I'm interested in Castlerotto, and, of course, Alpe di Suise. Is mid- to late-May too early?
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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I spent 5 nights in the area (based in La Villa in Alta Badia) the second week of June. The weather was cool but mostly sunny, the wildflowers were glorious, the hotel rates were cheap, the human and vehicular traffic was light (though there were lots of bikers, both motorized and pedal)--all great reasons to go to the Dolomites at that time. The drawbacks were (1) few lifts/cable cars were open, (2) many restaurants and stores were closed between the end of the snow season and the start of the summer hiking season, and (3) some of the higher trails/huts were still snowed in. I think mid- to late June might be preferable to mid- to late May, if you can swing it.
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Old Sep 12th, 2009, 07:56 PM
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taconictraveler, I would be very interested in hearing about your stay at LaFoce before your excursion to the Dolomites. I have not stayed there myself but I am fascinated by the story of LaFoce, now an agritourismo (sp.?), chronicled in Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val D'Orcia by Caroline Moorehead. LaFoce was the scene of intense fighting in WWII which Iris Origo also chronicled in another book. I quote below a description of LaFoce and its original owner Iris Origo's story. Enjoy the Val D'Orcia!

"Iris Origo was one of those rare characters who, despite being born with a platinum spoon in her mouth, went on to accomplish great things. In Origo's case, she managed to add light and colour to everything she touched, leaving for posterity a body of work - biography, autobiography and literary criticism - that has become recognized as a model of its kind." "She was born a Cutting, a wealthy and long-established Long Island family, but her talented and beloved father (who resembled, more than a little, a character right out of Henry James) died of consumption when she was only seven. She spent the following years travelling the world with her self-centered and eccentric mother and an extensive entourage, settling finally at the Villa Medici at Fiesole. There she was introduced to the privileged world of wealthy Anglo-Florentine expatriates, a volatile community that included the Berensons, Harold Acton, Janet Ross and Edith Wharton, and whose petty bickering, and pettier politics, had a profound influence on her values and on how she spent her life." "Her marriage to Antonio Origo, a wealthy landowner and sportsman, was as much a reaction against this insular world as it was a surprise to her family and friends. Together they purchased, and single-handedly revived, an extensive, arid valley in Tuscany called Val d'Orcia, rebuilding the farmsteads and the manor-house. Although dearly sympathetic to Mussolini's land use policies, they sided with the Allies during World War II, taking considerable risks in protecting children, sheltering partisans, and repatriating Allied prisoners-of-war to their units." Caroline Moorehead has made extensive use of unpublished letters, diaries and papers to write what will surely be considered the definitive biography of this remarkable woman. She has limned a figure who was brave, industrious and fiercely independent, but hardly saintly. What emerges is a portrait of one of the more intriguing, attractive and intelligent women."
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Old Sep 14th, 2009, 02:56 AM
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Hi Logogm - The main problem with May is that the main lifts (- with one or two exceptions) are still closed. If you are planning on hiking this is a drawback - otherwise it need not affect your enjoyment of the area.

Weatherwise ... it's in the lap of the gods (- as in any mountain area). But that's the case even in July/August ...

Hope this helps ...

Steve
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Old Sep 14th, 2009, 08:28 PM
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latedaytraveler: I've stayed at La Foce twice before, and three times in the general area.

I was first intrigued by reading Iris Origo's own book: The War in the Val d'Orcia. It is very good and still available in paperback.'

There is also a gorgeous coffee table book called La Foce, about the gardens there.

Her two daughters, Benedetta and Donata run La Foce now, and it has several villas and all kinds of accommodation. It is very well run, and the lovely gardens of the main villa are glorious and open at least one day a week.

We have stayed in two different houses, and this time in a larger house we'll be with three other couples, all good friends.

They have a very good website - just google "La Foce" and you can get lots of info.

It is a great area, very close to Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia, Montalcino, etc.

I'm very excited about going back - and would be happy to answer questions now or later about our experience

I'm not very good at Trip Reports, (I think I owe several right now) - but I'm trying to be better.
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Old Sep 15th, 2009, 06:50 PM
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taconictraveler, thank you for sharing your experience at LaFoce. Obviously, the estate is as charming as I imagined. Perhaps some day…

I am fascinated by that period in Italian history when the country was buffeted between the regime of Mussolini followed by the Allied invasion. The general population, as in all wars, suffered greatly. Iris Irigo, who restored LaFoce with her aristocratic husband, wrote a great deal about the area during that time frame. Her mother had been an ingénue, one of whose admirers was the irrepressible art connoisseur Bernard Bernenson. Iris was of that sophisticated ex-pat community in Florence in the early part of the 20th century.

But enough of history. Hoping you have a great time with good weather in the Dolomites – a stunning area.
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