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Can I squeeze in a trip to the Dolomites? Is it worth the hassle?

Original Post
Toad · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 0

The lowdown:  My lady and I will be in Italy (Florence --> Cinque Terra --> Venice) for a total of 8 days.  We'd like to do a couple of days in the Dolomites, just some long via ferrata routes up to the refugias.  What is the minimum amount of time we should expect to set aside for that, and is it even worthwhile?  I've been told we'll need a car to get up to the via ferratas...

We're flying into Florence, and out of Venice.  We'll do some tourist stuff, but honestly we've got a wide open schedule for 8 days.  Any advice?  Anything we MUST see?  First week of October.

Thanks dawgs!

fossana · · leeds, ut · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 12,957

I'd recommend the Messner Mountain Museum in Bolanzo for both climbing history and Messner's eclectic art collection. The Dolomites are worth visiting from a geological and historical perspective, even for a few days.  The local buses may not be running that late in the season, but you could look into taxis or transportation through the guiding services.  The other place for via ferrata that's not too far from Venice is Slovenia (Kranjska Gora and vicinity), which feels more alpiney than the Dolomites and is way cheaper.  You'll need a car for most things, although there are trails right from town.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,777

Most of the high-mountain huts will be closed in the Dolomites. Most of lifts used to _access_ high-mountain VF routes will be closed. Many of the great high-mountain VF routes (or their approach hikes or descents) might covered with snow.
. . (Sharon + I will be there mid-Sept, yet again, so our odds on high-mountain VF are better, but some years we miss out even three weeks earlier).

Now for the good news:

  • Just driving around on the roads thru the Dolomites is wonderful. Just going out for a well-chosen trail run or hike is wonderful.
  • Low-altitude valley Via Ferrata routes around Arco + Trento are wonderful.
  • Sport cragging around Bozen / Bolzano is very congenial (one of my favorite crags is near one of the Messner castles) and sport climbing around Arco is rather famous (if bring rope and some draws).

  • rent a bicycle (or E-bike) (or motorcycle) and ride the Sella Ronda loop on asphalt roads thru the heart of the Dolomites.
  • great valley Via Ferrata routes: VF Torrente Sallagoni (Rio Sallagoni). Provided your partner is somewhat athletic.

VF Rio Secco for making moves "free" with hands + feet directly on the rock.
VF Rino Pisetta climbs one of the Sarca big walls. You and your partner better be serious rock climbers to take on that one.

  • On a rainy day could have a cross-cultural indoor climbing experience by visiting the Salewa Cube in Bozen / Bolzano).

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

Good tip re Bolzano as a base.  We missed the Messner museum (didn't even know if was there actually), but it's a nice little town in its own right and worth a day or two.  There's a gondola you can ride to Upper Bolzano, which is really chill.  From there a train heads further up a peak I can't remember the name of.  Ritternbahn or something like that.  

We took a bus from Bolzano to the Dolomites but, if you can, rent a car.  It will be WAY faster.  It's a couple hours to Selva/Wolkenstein, which is just west of Passo Gardena.  From there you can do the Piz Cir ferrata (just 2-3 hours).  The famous Tridentina is in that neck of the woods too on the east side of the pass.  We spent a couple nights in Corvara (Hotel Col Alto was nice), which was great.  We were there earlier though (late June) and the lifts had not yet opened for the season.  I tried doing the Piz Boe from town (wife had a cold) but it was a steep hike just to get to the top of the lifts well before the ferrata even started.  Good mt. biking in that area too.  Timing wise, you may not bag much, but you'll have fun if you go.  

Marty Brenner · · Durango, CO · Joined Sep 2006 · Points: 145

Toad, my schedule is almost the same: Tuscany, Florence, Cinque Terra, Venice.  Except I'm breaking off from my wife and friends, to go climbing instead of going to Venice.  I really thought I'd be able to climb in the Tre Cima  on October 1 & 2.  But as I got more and more info, I realized that just wasn't realistic in that short of a time.  But then I found that the Sarca Valley, in the Arco area, has long routes too.  (Not just sport climbing.)  It's got better weather then too.  It sounds like it takes about 6.5 hours to get there from Vernazza by train/bus.  And I think it's about 4 hours from Arco to the Venice airport via bus/train.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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