As the mercury is rising, cool off by looking towards to your winter holidays and whisk your mind away to the snow-covered caps of the Italian Dolomites.
With these current scorching temperatures, you may be wishing that winter was indeed coming…. Just imagine jumping on a plane in Luxembourg, then a little over an hour and a half later, landing directly in Venice – the gateway to the Dolomites. From Marco Polo airport, simply rent a car and drive 110km north whereupon you’ll find a Narnia-esque wonderland awaits.
In the Veneto region that borders with Austria, the Cadore area remains the Dolomites’ best kept secret. This lesser known region offers postcard-perfect views with ragged white peaks and snow topped fir trees as far as the eye can see. The area is ideal for dabbling in a whole host of winter sports: from skiing and snowboarding in the San Vito area or with the glitterati in exclusive Cortina; to ski mountaineering, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing on the trails around the sleepy hamlet of Cibiana di Cadore.
A trip to the area wouldn’t be complete without following the trail up to Monte Rite (2,181m). At the top, you’ll find Europe’s highest museum, Messner Mountain Museum, known as the “Museum in the Clouds”. Famed for having made the first ascent of Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1978, Reinhold Messner created this museum in dedication to the world’s mountain ranges and the cultures of the people who inhabit them. Originally a fort from World War I, at the summit you’ll be rewarded with 360° panoramas of the valleys and lakes below, and a refreshing pit stop at the Rifiguio Dolomites Monte Rite refuge.
Refuges are the best place to stay and refuel after a hard day’s climb. Often found in the most breath-taking of locations seemingly in the middle of nowhere, they provide a place to sleep and traditional home cooking. Think goulash and polenta a go-go, hearty broths, salsiccia, charcuterie and cheese platters, and apfel strudel for a sweet finish. Many are open during the winter but do fill up quickly, so do call in advance to reserve. Make sure to check out the Antelao refuge, which offers skiing opportunities and breathtaking views of Monte Antelao – at 3,263m, it’s the highest mountain in the eastern Dolomites.