Most people recognize us from our beach, resort and villa photos but we actually LOVE hiking. We did EBC (Everest Base Camp - check out our Budget Blog Post!) a couple years back and we have done a ton of hiking in most of Europe and also in South Africa. We are no strangers to the mountains and definitely enjoy having them creep into our travel itineraries now and again. One of the most majestic hikes that we have been lucky to complete was part of our Northern Italy road trip back in the fall of 2018, right when we were starting our Instagram account. The Dolomites are an incredible range of mountains and they have some of the most dramatic peaks that we have ever seen.
Our visit in the fall was not necessarily the warmest hiking adventure we have ever had but to be honest, during the daylight hours, we found it to be quite nice for our mountain walks. We had a few places on our list, different hikes that we wanted to tackle, but the highest on our list was Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Sexten Dolomites region. It is probably the most recognizable mountain groups in the Alps and draws in travelers from all over the world to see its three peaks reaching from the earth to the clouds. The hike itself is honestly quite simple and only takes about three hours to complete the circuit.
Upon arrival you are able to drive up quite a ways before you start the trail. This is amazing for people that cannot handle difficult climbs and it was honestly perfect for us at this point in time because we were constantly exhausted from about a month of difficult hiking in southern Europe. The trail starts with a steady incline but then it levels off after a little while before it loops around the three mountain peaks, back to the car lot. We actually didn’t even realize that we had parked on the backside of the peaks at first. They are so huge that it just seemed like the side of any 'regular' mountain and we assumed the peaks were opposite of where we started our trek.
The view that you see above is from roughly halfway through the hike. There are plenty of places to stop along the trail to take photos or relax, but the sooner you make it to the little mountain restaurant the better. This is where the view becomes the most spectacular. The restaurant looks much like the homes in Tirol, Austria, reminiscent of a James Bond skiing chalet and it offers simple foods, hot drinks and very cold beer. This is an incredible spot to stop, rest up, have a bite to eat and enjoy the view. We, however, like to find our own little spots that we can somewhat claim as our own so we continued onward and up a mountainside adjacent to the three peaks.
From the restaurant we noticed a dark indentation a little ways up, well off the trail, and in an area where no one seemed to be exploring. Naturally we had to break from the trail and figure out if we could get up there. We had heard that there was a grouping of small caves (spoiler alert: we obviously found them) where people stay the night, make fires and enjoy the sunset and sunrise at the peaks. If this was it we had to find out. It took us probably an extra two hours to jaunt off and check out the adjacent mountain side but nothing could have been more worth the effort. We found the caves and we found another outcrop that had clearly seen no traffic, giving us the most amazing view that we could really call our own. We had packed our own food for the hike and we sat up there for probably 30 minutes eating, chatting and just enjoying the view before us.
This is the most amazing aspect of hikes for us, to be honest. We love finding our own little spots, taking the time to enjoy the view and just relaxing out in nature. It isn't really about the destination for us but the views along the way. We have done some very difficult hikes, ones that take days and even weeks to complete but what stands out the most for us about this hike is honestly the simplicity of it. It was nice to find a place where we were able to see something so incredibly beautiful without overexerting ourselves to do so. There were people of all ages on this hike, from kids to even a couple that we met who were both in their 80’s.
If Italy is a destination that you have been looking at for the new year, don’t just look into the city destinations like Rome and Florence… take the time to head up into the north and explore the mountains. Let us know if you find the caves!
Til next time...