Another day excursion from Bolzano is a drive through the picturesque Val Gardena, the valley between Bolzano and Cortina d'Ampezzo (site of the 1962 Winter Olympics). This drive is not for those afraid of driving mountain roads as the roads are narrow with sharp turns and HUGE tour busses travelling the route as well. But if you brave the drive, you will be rewarded with incredible scenery not to be surpassed by many places in the world. We took the drive in the summertime, therefore we did not have to contend with snow and the dangers of winter driving. We drove through lush green rolling hills which formed the foreground for huge granite peaks seeming to jut out of the earth! Around every turn there were more and more scenic views.
At one point, we parked behind a car of an Austrian chorale group that were serenading the beautiful mountains in 4 part harmony! Along the drive, we passed many small quaint mountain towns whose homes were constructed with an Alpine flair. The red tile roofs so typical of Italian towns are replaced by chalet-type roofs and many wooden features in this region of Italy. The town of Gardena was filled with artisan shops of wood carvings. These merit a stop along the way.
Our journey ended at the town of Corvarra. This quaint town is located at the base of yet another Dolomite peak and has many restaurants and shops to explore. The restaurants feature local cheeses, fondues, and other Alpine treats (apple strudel, for one!!) Our restaurant even came with a resident St. Bernard lounging on the outside patio.