Uh oh! An email from the owner of the hotel I was to stay at in San Vigilio di Marebbe, Italy. He needed to close the hotel early for the season (summer) as his wife was about to have a baby. What did this mean for me and my reservation made a month ago? Well, he had found a comparable hotel for me and, with my permission, he would transfer my deposit and I could stay there instead. I was skeptical.
So, I checked out the website for the new hotel. It looked nice, this Hotel Olympia. I agreed to the change although I was still unsure.
However, that all changed when I arrived…
There was Marco in his Empire Strikes Back tshirt (he’s a huge Star Wars fan and wore a Star Wars tshirt every day I was there), speaking some English (spotty, but enough to carry on a conversation) and helping me get settled. He showed me to a fabulous, large room, all of pinewood. The room had a walk in closet (seriously?!) and a balcony with views over the village of San Vigilio di Marebbe and the mountains of the Dolomiti. I couldn’t have been happier! And, it proved to cost a little less…bonus!
Make no mistake, this is a hotel, unlike a B&B or agriturismo with just a handful of rooms. It has about two dozen rooms and suites, a bar and a restaurant. BUT, and this is a big BUT, it is family-run and has the feel of a very small accommodation. Marco, called me by name, Mrs Lynne, as did his daughter, Camilla, who is part of the operation, waiting on tables at both breakfast and dinner. I loved when she asked me, “How are you today, Mrs Lynne?” Fabiana, Marco’s wife, is also in the background, helping out. She has her own shop in town, but does assist at the hotel as time allows.
A huge breakfast buffet is included in the price of the room. You can get eggs made to order and there is a wide array of fruit, yogurt, meat, cheese, cereal, bread and of course, coffee, tea and juice. It was impressive! Dinners are served in the same restaurant for an additional cost of €25 (drinks excluded). We’re talking 4 course meals here, with an appetizer, primo piatto, secondo and dessert. Too much food for me, but I managed to eat 2 dinners here. They were fabulous!
I was to only stay 3 nights in San Vigilio, but between the wonderful hotel, the incredible scenery, the great hiking and Marco and Camilla’s hospitality, well, how could I only spend 3 nights? So, I was able to stretch it out to 4 – best decision I made on this journey so far.
As I came back from my hike on the third day, I walked into the hotel lobby to greet Marco (in a Master Yoda tshirt) and nice Italian couple and their golden retriever. I was immediately smitten with the dog and a conversation ensued in a mix of English and Italian about where I’d been (the Senes hike), my travels and Italy. It was a wonderful exchange as we spoke of Italy, me expressing my love of their country trying to speak a few words of Italian when I could, and Marco and the lovely couple speaking of places in their homeland that are “bellissimo” – which, in my opinion, includes the whole damn country! Anyway, when I saw the couple at dinner, we said our “buona sera’s” and I laughed as he ate off her plate. They laughed too. People are people no matter where you are!
The next morning (my last full day here), I saw the Italian couple again. They were leaving. They came over to me as they said their “arrivederci’s”. He wishing me buon viaggio (good travel) as he shook my hand, and she, remembering the hike I planned to take today, wishing me “buon Fanes”, and kissing me on both cheeks. I almost cried right there. THIS is why I love to travel. And this is why I love Italy.
Hotel Olympia, the lovely village of San Vigilio di Marebbe, and the Fanes-Senes-Braies Dolomiti have been a highlight of this trip. Summer is a great time as there is loads of hiking, walking, mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits. Being there in late September was a little quieter, and rather special. A lot of the hotels and restaurants close around mid-September for the summer season. You see, San Vigilio is also known for its winter sports with nearby slopes for skiing and snowboarding and trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. So, if this is your thing, perhaps a visit in winter is in order. The hotels and restaurants open back up in November as the winter season kicks off. Marco told me he skis and is hoping for some early snow!
For me, I would travel here any time of year. The village is beautiful, the mountains are gorgeous and the warmth of the people, especially Marco, Camilla, Fabiana and the lovely couple I met, is incredible. I can’t wait for my return visit!