This summer (though I wonder if we indeed had a summer…..) our vacation was limited to a few days not so far from home. My mil conditions are worsening very fast and even if she has a care woman living with her, and our daughter was home, we were unconfortable with being too far for too long….We had a very hard time finding the right destination because everywhere the forecast were so bad and when we decided which place, we had to re-think about going on bike, it would have been too much driving up the mountains under the rain and with that cold….Our “base camp” was the village of Arabba, in the North of the region veneto, under the Alps…..to reach it we had to drive along the Gardena Pass….
At an elevation of 2,137 m (7,008 ft) above sea level, the pass connects Sëlva in the Val Gardena on the west side with Corvara in the Val Badia. The road over it comprises part of the famous Sella Ring, in which four linked passes (Gardena, Sella, Pordoi, and Campolongo) encircle the spectacular Sella group. The route becomes busy with tourists, motorcyclists, and cyclists during the summer. There are tourist accommodations on the pass itself, and hikers visit the pass to access the dramatic Dolomite mountains.
Here is our hotel in Arabba
Surrounded by the most beautiful mountains of the Dolomites, there is the Livinallongo valley ( Fodom in ladin language) , with its most important centre, Arabba ( Rèba in ladin language, 1612m ), overshadowed by the imposing Group of the Sella mountains. The past of Arabba is not well known.There remains a confused memory of an apocalypse, maybe a pestilence, maybe a flash flood, certainly a catastrophe from which only two families were lucky enough to escape; one on the mount Pizzach and the other on the opposite mount Cherz. One night, a member of the first family would have lit a fire and the second family would have replied, lighting their own fire: in this way the two families would have found one another, and the village would have risen again. As in every legend, there is probably a grain of truth in this one, and the name Arabba serves to confirm it: in the ladine language Arabba is “Rèba”, a word derived from “royba” meaning landslide or from “rebia” meaning avalanche and also an overflowing torrent. For a long time Arabba and Livinallongo were under the dominion of the prince bishops of Bressanone , in 1796 under the control of Napoleon and then returned in 1815 to become Austrian territory. However with the end of the First World War, Arabba and Livinallongo became Italian territory. Up until the First World War, the economy and the general culture were oriented around the German language, therefore Italy’s annexation meant joining a political, cultural and economic reality completely different from the one experienced until that time. Arabba is a very small village, just hotels, a few restaurants, the tourist office, all around the main place where a church consecrated to the apostles Pietro and Paolo was built in the second half of the seventeenth century.
Beside the Church the only attraction of the village is an old mill, hidden behind a house…..Where for centuries the people of Arabba had ground rye and barley was some years ago at risk of ruin. The municipality of Pieve di Livinallongo financed the restoration work. Now, the mill is in perfect working order, it is an evidence of past generations and a mechanical masterpiece with its sculpted wooden gears.
And obviously there’s a very well furnished shop that sells a huge selection of grappa and local spirits…
Even if at 1612 mt of altitude, Arabba is nevertheless in a valley, and to go around you have to drive through one pass or another…..the Pordoi Pass is maybe the better known, if just for the fact that the Giro d’Italia passed here many times….Pordoi is located between the Sella group in the north and the Marmolada group in the south. The pass is at an altitude of 2,239 m (7,346 ft), and the road crossing the pass connects Arabba (Livinallongo del Col di Lana) with Canazei (Fassa Valley). It is the highest surfaced road traversing a pass in the Dolomites. A memorial to Fausto Coppi stands at the summit of the pass.
Down towards the valley on the other side of Pordoi, there’s Canazei. Its name derives from the Latin word cannicetus (cane thicket) and is the base station for many excursions and rock climbs to the Sella, Marmolada and Sassolungo Groups.
From here you can easily reach the Marmolda and the Fedaia.
Marmolada is the highest mountain of the Dolomites, and it’s located about 100 kilometres north-northwest of Venice, from which it can be seen on a clear day. It consists of a ridge running west to east. Towards the south it breaks suddenly into sheer cliffs, forming a rock face several kilometres long. On the north side there is a comparatively flat glacier, the only large glacier in the Dolomites the Marmolada Glacier. The ridge is composed of several summits, decreasing in altitude from west to east: Punta Penia (3,343 m), Punta Rocca (3,309 m), Punta Ombretta (3,230 m), Monte Serauta (3,069 m), and Pizzo Serauta (3,035 m). An aerial tramway goes to the top of Punta Rocca. During the ski season the Marmolada’s main ski run is opened for skiers and snowboarders alike, making it possible to ski down into the valley. Paul Grohmann made the first ascent in 1864, along the north route. The south face was climbed for the first time in 1901 by Beatrice Tomasson, Michele Bettega and Bartolo Zagonel. Until the end of World War I the border between Austria-Hungary and Italy ran over Marmolada, so it formed part of the front line during that conflict. Austro-Hungarian soldiers were quartered in deep tunnels bored into the northern face’s glacier, and Italian soldiers were quartered on the south face’s rocky precipices. As glaciers retreat, soldiers’ remains and belongings are occasionally discovered. It’s not by chance that there’s a little but interesting musueum dedicated to WWI
Situated at 2054 m. there’s Fedaia Pass. The area features the presence of the imposing artificial embrace defined by the dam which blocks the top of the Avisio valley, from which a 1.85 km lake originated. The Fedaia Pass, in view of the Marmolada glacier, is well attended in summer and in winter. Lake Fedaia lies at the base of Marmolada. It was also used as a location for the film Italian Job.