Sherie and I have been very pleased with our choice of lodging in the Alta Badia valley of the Dolimites.
First the town, Corvara:
- Very strategiclly located in a stream/road junction that is a bit flatter, a bit more opened up with meadows than those below. Ben’s experience of picking the higher altitude of similar choices worked out well.
- While Corvara is a village, it is one of the big three historical villages in this valley. It has reasonable choice of lodging and restaurants. It has small food stores, bus transport, bike stores, ski shops cum clothing stores, etc. So the staples of life are available.
- Corvara is located under lifts that rise in three directions. The Boe gondola rises up the Sella massif to the southwest, with a chairlift to take one higher. Great access to the upper mountains. Other lifts nearby rise east and south to a mid level.
- Facilities in Corvara are modern and comfortable, catering to the middle class tourist. Thankfully these tourists are Italian and German speaking for the most part, who demand somewhat better food and lodging than the American. The major industry here is now tourism, with just enough dairy mixed in to keep it scenic.
Now the lodging, Albergo Pradat:
- Sherie and I like two stars places, as they tend to be smaller and cover the basics well without too much fluff. Pradat is just that, with a clean simple room, decent private bathroom with shower and bidet, balcony with big views.
- The albergo is small, maybe twenty rooms. It is family run, mostly by a mother and two daughters. The daughters speak at least four languages well, the mother “only” Ladin, Italian and German.
- The lodging plan includes breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is pretty simple, with enough sweet treats to tempt one to wander from the basic breads, cereals, fruits, cheese, yogurt, and speck. Dinner is more formal, starting at 1900. First one has a self-serve salad bar, then maybe a formal appetizer. Always next is a Prima course of pasta or soup, then a Secondi course of a small (by American standards, but perfect) portion of meat, starch, veggies. Then a choice of dessert that includes ice cream, fruit salad, or something decadent like cake, strudel, or pudding. We have eaten well.
- It is expected at our hotel that one is out and about for lunch. It is not available here. Within a five minute walk are ten bar/pizzareias/restaurants. We also enjoyed lunch up high on the lift stations when we hiked, in other towns when we biked, and some picnics with nice local breads and meats.
- Albergo Pradat is located about two blocks from the main intersection in town. Far enough that the street noise is minimal, close enough to easily walk. It is only up the hill a short way, so the walk back is less strenuous than it is in some other places. And it is to the north side of town, providing the best views of the Sella massif.
- Internet is expensive in the hotel, 4 Euro per hour (ouch, thats ten cents per minute.) And Ben forgets to log out, or this timy netbook crashes when taxed too hard, so the clock keeps ticking when one does not actively log off. TV is okay, with as much German as Italian, and the expected Engish languare CNN, BBC, etc. Ben has enjoyed watching soccer in Italian and German, we both have enjoyed the Tour de France live coverage without too many commercials of fluff.
We have been lucky with the weather. To the north, in Austria and Germany, there has been more rain. In the Veneto flatlands below, it is hot and humid. At 1500 meters, it has been pleasant with clouds building over the peaks during the day to provide shade. Only had rain twice: once at night and a twenty minute shower when we were on our bikes too late in nthe day.
For public transport, it is not so great to leave the region. While there are buses to the local villages and passes throughout the day, there is only one bus per day to Belluno or Bolzano. We chose Belluno, where we will train to Mestre (mainland Venice.) With connections and such, it will be a long day today, as the one bus does not leave Corvara until 1230, and the direct train has us into Mestre at 1915.
We have been saying this has been the perfect vacation, although expensive with the weak dollar. The Italians know how to prepare food and enjoy mealtime, we have learned a lot about the cycling culture in Italy, and found some beautiful places to visit. The quality time alone together has been very good. With the Maratona race near the end of our trip, we have increased our fitness and acclimated enough to survive it as well as any century we have done in the states.