Have you ever had a feeling in the pit of your stomach as you looked at photos from a place you have visited? A feeling of longing to be there right there at that moment – like you just wanted to dive into the picture?
That’s how I feel every single time I gaze at my photos from the Alpe di Siusi region of the Dolomites in northern Italy. I want to be there so badly my stomach churns and my heart creeps up into my throat. It’s literally a physical ache.
The Dolomites had been on my “must see list” for a while. I’d seen photos and thought these mountains looked incredible. So, when I was on my first long-term trip in 2011, I decided it was time. As I looked at the map and did my online research, I realized that the Dolomites weren’t one place, but rather about half a dozen places. Then, there were all these little towns and villages surrounding the different “Dolomiti”. It was daunting. Where to go? I didn’t want to choose poorly. It was important to me to have a good town to base myself and then be able to fan out from there. All the towns looked beautiful and each region of the Dolomites looked gorgeous. I finally settled on Castelrotto/Kastelruth in the Alpe di Siusi region per American travel guru, Rick Steves‘ recommendation.
When I drove from the motorway up the twisty, curvy mountain road, that finally flattened out at the high alpine meadow of the Alpe di Siusi, my draw dropped. There stood the Schlern (Sciliar in Italian) overlooking the green valley of the Alpe di Siusi. It took my breath away. It was even more beautiful than the photos I had seen. I knew I had made the right choice (thanks Rick Steves!).
It was the beginning of summer so everything was green. I was fortunate to have gorgeous weather with lots of warm sunshine, yet cool nights. I explored the town of Castelrotto, took some wonderful walks and hikes and made a few spectacular drives. As I left that first time, I vowed to return.
On my recent trip to Italy I decided to go back. There was no way I was leaving Italy without returning to the Alpe di Siusi.
As I drove the familiar winding road from the motorway, my heart rate sped up. I was so excited about seeing the Alpe di Siusi again. But, I was also worried – what if it wasn’t as good the second time around? As the road flattened out, there peaking out from the clouds was the Schlern, still standing over the high alpine meadow. Once again my draw dropped. And once again my breath halted. It was just as stunning as I remembered.
I walked some familiar trails, and embarked on some new ones, always trying to explore more and learn more about this gorgeous area. Though my weather in mid-September was not quite as good as my first visit, I still enjoyed my time thoroughly. The Alpe di Siusi just feels like home to me. Will I go back yet again for a third time? I do have a “milestone” birthday next year…so I think that’s a solid “hell yes!”