As we left Chamonix, car pointed once again towards the Alps, we entered the 7-mile Mont Blanc tunnel. Beyond the tunnel we arrived in Italy, a new country for us, one dotted with vineyards clinging to the hills and ancient castles perched above. We planned for a 2-night stay somewhere between the French border and the craggy Dolomite peaks and along the way discovered Italy’s largest lake – Lake Garda. With many small villages dotting the shore of this lake, we chose Bardolino for our 2-night stay, originally a bustling fishing village dating back to the year 1000, now known for its nightlife, food and wine.
Before we left for Europe we’d made reservations in larger cities but hoped to be spontaneous beyond that. It appears that the shoulder season of September and October in both France and Italy have been discovered as an ideal time to visit, as impromptu hotel stays are more difficult to find than we had read. Luckily we were able to snag two rooms in Bardolino, although in separate hotels, but friends Frank and Margee were within a block of where we were booked.
The layout of Bardolino is a bit unusual but makes perfect sense once you understand their logic. Houses were built one behind the other beginning at the shoreline. The streets run perpendicular to the coast, which permitted safe and easy access for the fishing boats to be transported down to the water.
Verona was nearby, known throughout Shakespearean verse as the “city of eternal love”. Since it was an easy day trip, we decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it draws poets, painters, and romantics for its various styles, Roman origins, magnificent Renaissance palaces, and the walled heart of the city. This is where the house of Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet) is said to be based, although many skeptics dispute this. The ancient amphitheater, whose walls still stand, is visited by tourists around the world. We opted out as we knew Rome was in our future.
For us the Sant’Anastasia church and the Duomo were the highlights of the day in Verona, as well as the walk along the Adige River. Beyond this we found Verona to be very crowded, touristy, and loaded with high-end boutique shops.
The mountains were calling us once again.
Next Up: Back in the Alps, Italian-style
26 thoughts on “En Route to the Dolomites ~ A Photo Post”
What a wonderful adventure you are having! Gorgeous photos as always. I am chuckling at the hunchback or possibly feel a lower back pain coming on in empathy. 🙂
The hunchback was in a gorgeous basilica. Speaking of lower back pain, I feel his pain some days after walking on cobbled stones for 6-7 hours. 🙂
Love, love that header photo!! So glad you are able to find hotels. Impromptu makes for a much better adventure. Can’t wait to see what you found in the French Alps:)
Thanks Pam. I thought of you and John when we were in the Dolomites. The hiking and the views are endless! 🙂
Your photos are delightful, and really evoke a sense of place. Your header photo fills me with nostalgia—it’s so quintessentially European. I’d be making the same decisions as you, choosing places that aren’t overrun with tourists.
Thanks Laurel. Verona was a disappointment for us given the hordes that we found there. We are in Venice right now. It is difficult to always avoid the crowds but Terry and I sneak out early mornings while the city is just coming alive. It has been wonderful.
Verona looks interesting, if not for the crowds, but it’s your next post about the Dolomites that I’ve been waiting for!
Verona was a bit of a disappointment for us but we were so close that we would have regretted not going there. The Dolomites were breathtaking! That post is next, once I sort through all the photos.
Love all the photos. What a gorgeous country. I would love to visit Verona. That exactly type of town I adore. Keep on enjoying the good life. AAAAHHHHH…the mountains.
I think you would really enjoy some of the villages in the Dolomites Marsha. Everything is so pristine.
Loved that framed photo from the window. Have you experienced the language barrier?
Not so much yet. There are many who speak at least a little English. For some reason I feel the need to just jump right in and talk to the locals. I know enough Italian (similar to Spanish) to be dangerous. 🙂
Even with all the tourists I’d love to be back in Italy. It’s one of my favourite countries. Love your photos, especially the opening one, and the church interior. It sounds like you’re having a fabulous time!
We are Alison and still have the rest of the month to go. We are currently in Venice, which has been fascinating.
I absolutely fell in love with Venice. It’s one of the most magical places in the world. Enjoy. Go get lost.
We loved Venice and tried to get lost, but sadly did not. Wish we had planned more time there.
What a winderful trip. Your header photo is terrific.
We visited Venice years back, over Christmas. It was very cold and wet, in fact the central square was totally flooded and there were planks for walkin on to get over the floods. It certainly kept the tourists at bay and we were amongst just a handful of foreigners who joined the locals at mass.
I loved being in the basilica while mass was being recited in Italian. It was quite a moving experience.
I shudder at the touristy bits of holidays, love your photos though as ever my friend and glad you are such a mountain lover as their is something wondrous about them and the stories they tell. I love your spontaneity about finding all the small places to be seen, there really is a whole hidden world to see.
I consider myself a very patient person Ste J but I struggle a bit when the pushing, shoving, noisy tourists hit the streets. The back alleyways and country roads are more our pace.
I hear you, sometimes swinging a big stick seems like a rather good idea though.
If I am honest I will admit that crossed my mind. 🙂
Love seeing the wonderful architecture in these photos! And I am a bit surprised it was difficulties getting hotels this late in the season, but I guess it is a more popular time to travel in Europe than I had imagined:)
We were surprised about the difficulty in getting rooms as well. I have recently read that the shoulder season of September and October is becoming more mainstream in Europe.
LuAnn, we’ve been shoulder season travelers for years, and usually it has served us well. We’ve also done a few low-season trips and with careful planning it can be delightful (Santorini comes to mind.) But in most of Europe, Sept-Oct is the absolute weather / low crowd sweet spot. Europeans are more mobile than Americans and this flexibility has certainly increased crowds on our last few trips. But man oh man, you can’t beat an al fresco lunch on a warm autumn afternoon. ~James
Except for a few rainy days, we have had fantastic weather. The worst weather for us was during our time in Tuscany, which I have yet to write about. I had hoped for better weather while we were staying in our farmhouse, but it didn’t keep us from sightseeing.