Italian Folktales ~ Day 10 (July 4, 2011), Fanes to Fiames to Fanna

Just above Fanes, the trail flattens, passes a turquoise blue lake, and then begins the long, sloping descent down the valley, back to Fiames.

Fanes - End of the "up"

Mountain lake

Homeward bound

Trail down through the pass

We left the bare, rocky summits behind us and, little by little, were enveloped by a forest of tall conifers, mysterious caves, and tumbling cascades.

Although at least one in our party was happy to see the end of this part of our trip, I was reluctant to leave. I spent much of the hike down looking up and looking back, thinking about those lucky ducks just arriving at their first rifugio that day. As excited I was for the rest of our trip, truth be told, I could have easily spent another week, two, three right there in those mountains.

But the Fiat Panda was waiting patiently for our return, and we had miles to go before our rest in Fanna that night. Miles that included (unbeknownst to us at that moment) a road that resembled a zipper on the map and, in real life, turned out to be a seemingly endless series of terrifying, single-lane switchbacks that ricocheted us up and over the mountains and down into the gentle plains of Fanna.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that I have not a single picture of that harrowing journey. I was too busy gripping the seat and wondering when we’d stop going UP to think about preserving the memories digitally. All sense of peace from the past few days was momentarily gone. It was a very quiet trip over those mountains. Now, of course, I wish I’d taken at least one picture so you’d have an idea of what that road was like. You’ll just have to trust me: you wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

And then, we were down, with the Tagliamento river on our right.


Gliding along the gentle, suburban roads that led us to Fanna.



The clear, blue-sky weather that we’d been blessed with for the past four days turned to grey and the rain started. But it didn’t matter at all. Our packs were dry, and we found the largest hotel room this side of Texas, with comfortable beds, air conditioning, and generous, hot showers.

As appealing as the mountains are, civilization also ain’t so bad.

Italian Folktales ~ Day 8 (July 2, 2011), Sennes to Pederu


Peaceful morning at Sennes Hutte, and the sound of the cow bells. The sound we woke up to at each rifugio.

Packs lined up, ready for the day’s hike. Have I mentioned yet how much I love my backpack? Well I do. I love it. It’s the green one there. I love it.

Sennes - Backpacks ready for the day

On the walk to Fodara Vedla, where we’ll stop for lunch.

On our way to Fodara Vedla

Trail to Fodara Vedla

Looking at the pictures now, I still can’t believe how stunning the scenery was. What good thing did I do to deserve being there with my family and friends on a sparkling clear July day? It must have been something awfully good.

Trail, mountains, clouds

Stopping to rest

Stopping at an overlook to see where Pederu is.

View down to the valley floor

It is way. down. there.

But first, there is Fodara Vedla, and its bossy cows.

Mind the cows

Fodara Vedla - Cozy and serene

We sat on its front deck, ate a gloriously simple lunch, drank champagne in honor of a fellow hiker’s birthday, and watched the flags flap in the breeze. Rough life, eh?

Fodara Vedla - Flags

And then the last bit of gentle trail, across the meadow.

Fodara Vedla - In the distance

Before descending to the bottom of this valley.

Trail to Pederu - View into the valley

By way of a seemingly endless series of gravel-covered switchbacks (sorry, Hyla).

Going down

Switchbacks begin

Steep and curved

Even when Pederu, our lodging for the night, seemed tantalizingly close, the trail kept going and going, bending and twisting.

Pederu: our goal


Hike from Fodara Vedla to Pederu

That yellow line, from Fodara Vedla to Pederu, took us hours to hike, but on a mountain bike, you could do it in seven minutes.

If you were in a hurry, and a bit insane, that is.

Italian Folktales ~ Day 7 (July 1, 2011), Fiames to Sennes

Day 1 of the hike. Both wonderful and difficult. 13 kilometers of steady uphill hiking on crushed stone trails. Total gain of about 1000 meters in elevation.

Preparing at Fiames

Finally! Packs on our backs, boots on our feet, realizing the plan that we’d hatched all those years ago. Blue-sky day. Friends to keep us company. Some of us took a lot of pictures. Two of us hashed over the details of the Harry Potter books and movies for many kilometers. Two others were the map keepers. We laughed a lot, talked about Italy and food and lost luggage and all sorts of things, spent a lot of time looking up, pointing, exclaiming, “Look at that!”

Ra Stua bound

Setting out on the trail to Sennes

We stopped at Malga Ra Stua to eat our first picnic lunch of bread, cheese, salami, apples, and chocolate.

Malga Ra Stua - 6,890'

After lunch, we hiked through the loveliest, sheltered valley. Green, sloped pastures, dotted with grazing cows. Each one wore a bell, and the whole valley rang with the sound of the meandering bells.

More cowbell


See where the trail disappears in the trees? Just about there, at the trees, the trail begins to rise again, gently at first, then gradually more steeply until it twists itself into a series of switchbacks (a word that, by order of the resident 12-year-old, is now not to be uttered within her hearing). See those cliffs? By the end of the afternoon, we’d be above them.

Getting higher

It was hard hiking, and hardest on the youngest of our party, just shy of 12 years old and the least experienced hiker in the bunch. After a point, every step for her was a misery, and I felt like a hard-hearted parent forcing her up those trails. I wished with everything in me that there was a way I could magically transport her to the end, where rest, food, and a bed awaited.

But there was no magic. Only patient waiting, and kidding, and laughing, and sighing in exasperation, and grumbling, and snacking, and making mini milestones that we could achieve (“at the bend of the next switchback, we’ll stop and have some chocolate”).

In the end, no magic was needed. Just persistence. She did it. Under her own power.

She owned that mountain.

On the plateau

Sennes Hutte

And then we were there, at Sennes Hutte, drinking beer, wine, and hot cocoa, ruminating over the day’s hike, anticipating a warm shower, and basking in the sunset view we’d earned.