Where to start with this? I went to Italy and rubbed elbows with Loopster stars, Davide and Fiona. Basically, they have always let me know if I want to come visit them in Milan, Italy, I could. I did just that 5 years ago and then I grabbed an opening in the pandemic after Italy approved arrivals for tourists and I arrived in northern Italy on July 28th to stay with them until August 6th. We hatched a plan to hike in the Dolomites for a chunk of my visit because I had been wanting to start exploring that area. They were totally game and if you follow either of them on social media you'll know that they are no strangers to having incredible mountain adventures. They are also amazingly generous and kind hosts and fun people to hang out with.
It wasn't an ideal time to travel and without their help to get a covid test to return to the USA (despite being vaccinated), I'd probably still be in Italy. A piece of my soul was hoping I'd fail the test just so I could stay another 2 weeks. 😁
I know they were both concerned that a flatlander living at sea level her whole life was going to slow things down incredibly. I'm sure I did but it wasn't too drastic. The humid air was exactly what I deal with all summer in northern Michigan so that didn't phase me and there was altitude but not extremes. I've been running around 20-23 miles a week for the past 6-8 months so I had some decent fitness. I didn't run the trails except to catch up to them after taking pictures but I could have done some of the flat portions if I wanted to. Davide even boosted my confidence one morning when he said how surprised he was by how well I was doing considering I can't hike mountains where I live. 🤩
Here's a simplified run down of the adventures we had in chronological order:
Hiked 5 miles to the top of the church steps in Montevecchia, northeast of Milan and had a fun dinner with their friends and laughed a great deal. Here's a view from the top looking over the countryside.
Hiked 5 miles to this incredible lake in Courmayeur on the far west corner of Italy and my mouth was hanging open in awe the whole time. Davide and a friend of his were volunteers as course sweepers at a mountain trail race starting in Courmayeur the next day.
Hiked 3 miles up part of a mountain with Fiona and her friends and got this picture of me ... sigh... We watched some of the trail racers go buy while taking break at the hiking hut (refugio).
Then we got ready for the rest of the adventure to the Dolomites in the northeast part of the country. We stayed at a "unique" Italian tourist hotel in Andalo that left me with hilarious and head shaking memories and not a great deal of sleep but who cares!?
August 3rd we hiked trails near Molveno and I covered 14.4 miles and nearly 5,000 feet of elevation gain and I could still walk to dinner that night! This day was a "bucket list" type of adventure. Something I dreamed of but never thought I could actually accomplish it in my life. Incredibly challenging and rewarding. (The trail is in that picture below....it's narrow)
The next day we got up and moving (and I was barely sore!) and went to the Molveno area again to a different set of trails. Heavy rain was expected later in the day so we were hoping we could beat the worst of it and we did! We covered 10.5 miles and 2,700 feet of elevation gain on some steep and heavily forested trails. I felt right at home in the forests there. Davide got this downhill action shot of me and Fiona (she's in the green shirt). Poles are indispensable there!
I did some stuff on my own and we did some tourist type stuff together but I'm a terrible tourist and I just want to be out in nature and have nothing to do with crowds of people. I did visit Padua near Venice and went to the Botanic Garden there started in 1545 and is a UNESCO world heritage site. Very cool for anyone who is deeply interested in plants.
I leave you with pictures of most of the desserts I ate while I was there. I ate a lot of delicious food. Still lost 4 lbs in 10 days, though! Gelato and I have quite a love affair going. Currently my go-to flavors are pistachio and hazelnut. I will say that my absolute pinnacle food moment was the super thick hot chocolate (upper right corner of the picture) that is ubiquitous to the mountain culture and I've seen it on travel shows. It's so thick the bubbles didn't pop when I stirred a little sugar in. Think of it like heavy cream with super dark chocolate melted in. With that, I shall close out this update on what Brenda did on her summer vacation. 😎
Edited by TreeGirl
forgot to add a feature photo