Italy is one of the most travelled-to destinations in Central Europe, a beautiful country that we quite often recommend to others as a ‘must-visit’ country. From the UNESCO Dolomites in Val di Fiemme, to the narrow canals of Venice, or the soft white sandy beaches beside Spiaggia e Mare on the Adriatic Coast, to the fragrant vineyards of Petra Winery in Tuscany; there’s a place for everyone! As fascinated as we are with the beautiful towns, beaches and cities of Italy, we always seem to be drawn back to the spectacular UNESCO Dolomites and in particular, Val di Fiemme in Trentino, Italy. Un posto speciale che consideriamo una casa-da-casa. For the Summer of 2019 we would return to the Dolomites and try out the Summer Weekly Programme organised by Val di Fiemme Tourism. Lots of fun activities, nature walks and aqua parks to keep The Callaghan Posse entertained.
THE MAGIC OF THE DOLOMITES
The Val di Fiemme region is spectacular in winter with a picture postcard backdrop of the snow-covered UNESCO Dolomites mountain range. In winter, visitors flock to the alpine pistes seeking powder thrills and Après Ski. But, this region has so much more to offer than just skiing and snow. For starters, there’s Spring when the snow melts and clear water cascades down the mountains. The trickling Spring streams, that eventually merge in Summer and become fast flowing rivers; are perfect for thrill-seekers looking for a spot of white-water rafting. Flora and fauna flourish under a hot and hazy Italian sun and the once snow-covered hills now give way to lush green pastures. Instead of skiers, mountain bikers test their skills on the technical descents that were ski runs in Winter. The Dolomites are peaceful, and fill us with awe and wonder every time we visit.
ARRIVING AT MALPENSA AIRPORT
After a day of ‘around the houses’ travel with Mummy and her cost saving exercises, our Ryanair flight landed at Malpensa Airport, Milan at around 18:00. Bags were offloaded from the plane promptly and we were soon at the GoldCar car hire desk. Our medium-sized Jeep looked great but with a small(ish) boot, we had to play ‘baggage jenga‘ before we could set off to Aparthotel Majestic at the base of the UNESCO Dolomites in Val di Fiemme, Trentino, Italy. Always looking for a bargain, Mummy often picks the cheapest car hire possible and is never really sure of what vehicle we are going to end up with. That said, we’ve never had any Car Hire issues or concerns and we are becoming very experienced players at ‘baggage jenga‘.
MILAN TO VAL DI FIEMME
Having played ‘baggage jenga‘ with the Jeep, our journey began as dusk fell. From Malpensa Airport to Trentino by car takes around four hours. Euros in the glove box for tolls, sat-nav changed to English and it’s all systems go. Having left blue skies and sunshine in Ireland, we were now staring at a moody grey sky above Milan. And it wasn’t long until the moody grey sky burst into life! Torrential downpour and instant flooding on the roads! As we waited to use a toll booth, we watched a BMW float by on the road out of Milan. With rain, thunder and lightening, the drive to the Dolomites wasn’t the most pleasant. However, six hours of driving later; the Dolomites were in view and we arrived at Aparthotel Majestic in Val di Fiemme, Trentino, Italy. Lily-Belle and Matilda were sound asleep and I was definitely ready for my bed!
APARTHOTEL MAJESTIC, PREDAZZO
Arriving after midnight, all we could do was unload the car and climb into bed…exhausted. After a peaceful sleep, morning arrived and Mummy and the girls took a short walk to the supermarket to purchase local delicacies and stock up on provisions! I decided to chill and get a couple of extra hours rest in the spacious apartment. Aparthotel Majestic is situated on the outskirts of the town of Predazzo at the base of the Italian Dolomites. Knowing that we would arrive late we purposefully planned not do to any activities on our first morning. Our apartment room balcony provided us with stunning views of the UNESCO Dolomites. The air was fresh and the sun shone as we sat on the balcony eating fresh melon, croissants, pretzels and cheeses. What a beautiful way to begin a holiday in Predazzo, alfresco breakfast in a majestic hotel and stunning scenery…bliss!
READ ALL ABOUT IT: OUR STAY AT APARTHOTEL MAJESTIC IN PREDAZZO
SUMMER ACTIVITY PROGRAMME IN VAL DI FIEMME
Our first activity in Val di Fiemme was an Italian cookery lesson; and no, not for Mummy! Saying that though, the girls and I do wish Mummy would learn to cook hearty Italian food fresh rather than from a Dolmio jar! Like all of our activities planned for our week in Val di Fiemme and the Italian Dolomites, they had been chosen specifically for the girls. A chance for them to leave the ipads and tech indoors and be active and enjoy the magnificent outdoors. Activity one was an hour long ‘Cooking Workshop’ at the Little Mountain Delicacies workshop at Rifugio Monte Agnello in Pampeago. Access to the meeting point was via a short chair-lift ride from a very pretty Pampeago.
LITTLE DELICACIES WORKSHOP
Inside Rifugio Monte Agnello, where the Little Mountain Delicacies workshop took place; a group of children gathered around a rectangular table. Each child was provided with an apron and a chef hat, got to look the part, right? On the table lay bowls, ingredients and instructions on which ingredients to add to the bowl and when. Of course, children + ingredients = mess. But not on this occasion, the little ones took great pride in their mixing. As the only British tourists, we were delighted to receive translation assistance from the lovely Marghe, a snowboard instructor in winter and employee of the restaurant in summer. Mum’s and Dad’s watched hungrily from the sidelines waiting to sample the goodies made by the young chefs. Soft, sweet coconut ball treats. Yummy! And we even had enough to take back to Aparthotel Majestic for supper.
EXPLORING RIFUGIO MONTE AGNELLO
After making (and munching) the sweet coconut balls, a chance to explore Rifugio Monte Agnello and burn off the calories we’d just eaten! As always, the view of the UNESCO Dolomites was spectacular, a view we could admire all day, everyday. There was a petting pen with goats that the girls were drawn to. After a short time feeding and petting, the pen was opened and the goats left to roam the Dolomites freely. Perched high on the mountain there was a group of wooden ‘people like’ sculptures looking out across the Italian mountains. We named these sculptures ‘Mountain Gods’. There’s a short walk down a dedicated trail with an assortment of art and sculptures, plus the largest picture frame we’ve ever seen. The frame encompassed the UNESCO Dolomites mountains perfectly. In the evening of our first day we took a gentle stroll into Predazzo to familiarise ourselves with the town.
Day two and our morning activity was Tesorienteering in the Dolomites, organised by Kindergarten La Tana degli Snomi. The activity took place at Bellamonte Alpe Lusia just 15 minutes by car from Aparthotel Majestic. In the cable car we realised we had dropped a clanger, we’d left our water in the car and outside was scorching. Our meet and greet, Andrea; gave our girls a small wooden ball each and told us all would become clear at Giro D’Ali Parco Giochi sull’Acqua in the afternoon. At the meeting point we joined a small group of people who were much better equipped than we were with backpacks, walking poles and water. Ezio, our Tesorienteering guide; briefed the main group in Italian, then briefed The Callaghan Posse in English. We knew what we had to do….use the compass and map, follow the trail, solve the clues, return to base…easy peasy! What could go wrong?
SEARCH AND RESCUE
Now, Mummy and I are competitive but Tesorienteering in the Dolomites was taken at a leisurely pace. A compass, map and clue sheet were provided, and pretty much all that we needed. The trail sloped gently down through woodland with fun interactive puzzles along the trail. Dinosaur footprints led us to a bird puzzle. Lily-Belle loved the woodpeckers which rose up a pole with the pull of a rope, then fell pecking the pole when the rope was released. The Callaghan Posse, always hunting for photo opportunities; stopped regularly and we even managed a refreshing ice lolly mid way. Our quest continued and the Tesorienteering clues were solved with relative ease. Unbeknownst to us we had missed the return cut-off time and a search party was sent to locate us. Somehow we missed that we had two hours to complete the course…oops! Brilliant way to spend the morning.
CHALET 44 ALPINE LOUNGE
Tesorienteering trail complete and thirst and hunger got the better of us, but mainly thirst! A short chairlift ride to the top of Bellamonte Alpe Lusia for lunch at the brand new Chalet 44 Alpine Lounge. A magnificent building with large glass windows giving diners amazing views of the UNESCO Dolomites. Our waitress, Anisa; was very polite and attentive, and once we’d ordered, the food arrived promptly and was beautifully presented. Outside the main restaurant there’s a huge veranda for al fresco dining; overlooked by two huge artistic red flowers that stretch toward the sky. Very quiet, tranquil and peaceful, and almost empty! No doubt due to the fact that the restaurant is relatively new. This fine establishment will be very popular come winter when the masses arrive. The food was excellent and we expected to spend big bucks but no, the food was superb value for money.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: OUR TRIP TO OBERHOLZ RESTAURANT IN OBEREGGEN
GIRO D’ALI PARCO GIOCHI SULL’ACQUA
Once lunch had settled in our full tummies, we drove to our afternoon activity at Giro D’Ali Parco Giochi sull’Acqua. That’s one heck of a mouthful, so from here on in we’ll call it ‘Giro D’Ali’ for short! The sun shone brightly and temperatures were in the low 30’s, which for us pasty white skinned Brits; is excessively hot. Looking at the views of the Dolomites from inside the cable car, it’s hard to believe that Giro D’Ali will be under deep snow in the winter when it becomes a ski run.
TICKLES FROM A TADPOLE AT GIRO D’ALI
As the name would suggest, Giro D’Ali is full of fun water features to engage children. And probably the strangest thing we’ve ever experienced on our travels, tadpoles! There was a small shallow walk-through pond and a pebble stream where tiny tadpoles swam around your feet. Children, including Lily-Belle and Matilda; plunged their hands in hoping to catch the skittish critters. And, if you stood still, the tadpoles latched on to your feet and swam between your toes, really, really ticklish! Even though we knew we were attending the Giro D’Ali Parco Giochi sull’Acqua, we seriously had no idea that it was an aquapark. And, because we had no idea that it was an aquapark, we had no swimsuits or swim-shorts. Took a little while to convince Lily-Belle to strip to her knickers and vest, but she eventually did when she saw how much fun Matilda was having.
PROSPECTING FOR GOLD IN THE DOLOMITES
The Giro D’Ali Parco Giochi sull’Acqua is an excellent facility for children to expend energy. Splash ponds and streams, interactive water wheels and wooden structures, bobbing ducks, sun loungers (just a few) and a foot jacuzzi to dip your toes into, plus other play items. There was even the chance to prospect for gold and you got to keep whatever bounty you prospected! At the lower end of the aquapark there is a larger pond with an unstable floating raft and rope pulleys. The aim is to climb aboard the raft and using the ropes, pull yourself to the other side. Oh, and you also have to avoid being shot by children with large water cannons. Lots and lots of fun and practically impossible to stay dry so take spare clothing with you.
WHAT A LOAD OF WOODEN BALLS AT GIRO D’ALI
Giro D’Ali Parco Giochi sull’Acqua is on a gentle gradient. Fields are green and the forests beside are alive with the sound of wildlife. Red kites soar high in the sky using the summer thermals to rise. Preparing to leave the aquapark, we heard cowbells ringing, but where were the cows? Intrigued, we made our way to where the sound came from. Now the wooden balls made sense! A wooden ball assault course! Release the wooden ball then follow as it heads downwards through an assault course. Dodging holes, pinging off pegs, rolling over and under obstacles until the wooden ball reaches the end of each section and rings a cow bell. Ding-a-ling-a-ling! Very addictive and after spending 30 minutes or so going up and down with the wooden balls, we called it a day. Back to Aparthotel Majestic to freshen up and visit Predazzo for the evening.
RAI RADIO KIDS STREET FESTIVAL
The main town of Predazzo is a short 5 minute walk from Aparthotel Majestic. The buildings are colourful with decorative floral baskets hanging outside shops and restaurants. Every now and then your nose catches the sweet floral smells. In the town centre the Rai Radio kids street festival was in full swing and the sound of children having fun filled the air. Our girls love ‘mini-disco’ when we do Eurocamp holidays and the street festival was a fun way for them to join in. Plus the DJ played songs that we knew from previous Eurocamp holidays; including Baby Shark. Although we don’t speak Italian, our girls soon found friends to play with. Language is no barrier when music is playing and there’s the chance to dance!
VAL DI FIEMME TOURISM
At the Rai Radio Kids Street Festival we had the opportunity to catch up with Cristiana from Val di Fiemme Tourist Office. Cristiana had very kindly organised all of our activities from the Val di Fiemme Summer Weekly Programme. As well as music, there was an array of stalls selling food, balloons, face painting and temporary tattoos, which Lily-Belle and Matilda both got! I’m dreading the day when they walk in the house with real tattoos! And if they do, I’m blaming Mummy! Mummy, even though she was over the age of 18; had a tattoo that she hid from her parents for many years! To end the night, a paper plate full of the dessert delicacy Fortaie…oh my, delicious! A tasty sweet treat that closely resembles a crêpe mixed with a doughnut and drizzled with chocolate. Sticky, messy but deliciously tasty and ever so moreish! Bed time!
READ ALL ABOUT IT: OUR HOLIDAY TO SPIAGGIA E MARE HOLIDAY PARK
REVISITING ALPE CERMIS
In March 2018 we enjoyed a fantastic ski holiday at Alpe Cermis and met some wonderful people. Having day three to ourselves gave us an opportunity to relax in the pool at Aparthotel Majestic. Afterwards a return to Alpe Cermis to surprise Claudio whom we met at the ski rental in 2018. Plus we had gifts brought all the way from the Emerald Isle. In summer, Alpe Cermis base station is transformed into an adventure park with climbing apparatus and splash pools. After lunch and fun at the splash park, we ascended by chairlift to the top of Alpe Cermis. As we remembered, breathtaking views but very different from the snow-covered Dolomites of winter 2018. The picturesque well-groomed pistes were now green and sparkles of sunlight reflected off the petals of vibrant alpine flowers dotted on the mountainside. Winter skiers had been replaced by horses, ducks and other animals.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: OUR TRIP TO ALPE CERMIS, CAVALESE IN ITALY
THE CHURCH OF PPREDAZZO
Sightseeing in the Italian Dolomites over for the day and a chance to dress in our gladrags for an evening visit to the beautiful town of Predazzo. Chiesa arcipretale dei Santi Filippo e Giacomo bells were ringing and we saw this as an opportunity to pop inside the magnificent church, also known locally as the Church of Predazzo. Built in 1872, the church is luxuriant, and ostentatiously magnificent, the interior furnishings opulent and dazzlingly ornate with a fine attention to detail. Inside, the setting-sun shone through the colouful stained glass windows and created a dazzling blueish-green aura at the altar.
PRONTO PIZZA AND KEBAB SHOP
As thunder rumbled directly above us and the rain began to fall heavily, we took refuge in Pronto Pizza. Great opportunity to order food and then boom! There was a loud explosion and dust fell from the ceiling onto our table and into our drinks! Outside, the fire brigade arrived and a crowd gathered. Lightening had struck a nearby building and debris had fallen into the road. Unphased by the noise and commotion, I tucked into a delicious speciality kebab and the girls devoured a huge pizza, and I do mean huge! Poor Matilda couldn’t lift her slice having tiny hands but Lily-Belle got to grips with her slice no bother, she wasn’t going to be defeated. On the way back to Aparthotel Majestic we stopped at Cafe Ancora for treats; ice cream for the girls, and a glass of Italy’s finest vino for Mummy and Daddy.
RIVER RAFTING WITH AVISIO
Our fourth day in Val di Fiemme and today’s activities would not be done as a family. Mummy and Matilda had a morning to visit pony’s and horses whilst Lily-Belle and I had River Rafting with Avisio Rafting. I’m not going to lie, Lily-Belle was nervous, especially when I told here there was piranhas in the river! The instructor informed our group the course was a Class 3; small waves, a few drops, but no considerable danger to rafters. After getting kitted out and listening to a briefing from Federico; we each had to throw ourselves into the water, float down river for a few seconds, then return to shore. The water was fr-fr-freezing! Single-bladed paddle in hand, we climbed aboard the inflatable raft and was soon floating down the Torrente Avisio River. Not quite white-water but exhilarating and fun nonetheless!
Commands were given to row slower, faster, reverse, steer left and right and ice-cold water splashed up around us. The raft bobbed up and down and bounced over rocks, often threatening to discard us into the water. At one point rafters were offered the chance to climb up a steep rock then jump into the flowing river. Lily-Belle and I climbed, but Miss C became hesitant when she saw the 5-6 metre drop and allowed everyone to go ahead of her. I thought she would bottle it, but, and with me leaning gently into her back; she finally leapt off the rock. For a fleeting moment I was concerned when she disappeared under the water, but concern became relief when she popped up to the surface. Lots of fun and I have to say that River Rafting in the Dolomites was one of the highlights of our holiday. Loved it!
ACROPARK ADVENTURE DOLOMITI
Our afternoon activity at Acropark Adventure Dolomiti would be a hands-on experience for the girls. Acropark Adventure Dolomiti is an amazing aerial assault course set within woodlands in Val di Fiemme. An assortment of climbing apparatus, zip lines and nets for children to entertain themselves. The aerial routes are colour coded with height restrictions applied and enforced. Before tackling the main course high in the canopy, children get to practice their skills and equipment handling closer to the ground. An unforgettable Dolomote adventure and a perfect day out when the sun shines. After just 30 minutes of monkeying around in the trees, heavy rain came along with thunder and lightening. Fun time stopped! A halt was called and the park closed for safety reasons, the storm was too close for comfort. Far too wet to do anything outdoorsy so we drove back to Aparthotel Majestic and frolicked in the pool.
GELATERIA TRE VALLI AKA FRANCO’S
Midweek we arranged to meet with Claudio and Stef at Gelateria Tre Valli, aka Franco’s. From Ireland, we had a bottle of Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey for Franco. As we often do; we got chatting to a group sat at a table beside us, a family from Lake Garda. Under their table an assortment of instruments and it wasn’t long before the instruments were in hand and music filled the air. It’d be rude not to ask for requests…wouldn’t it? The boys had no bother playing Irish jigs, jazz, pop…basically any and every genre going. Franco cajoled Mummy into dancing! Let me tell you, Franco is a lively and sprightly character with an abundance of energy. Mummy sat down exhausted long before Franco did. In the middle of our table a sharing platter of biscuits to dip in chocolate. A special night as always, Franco’s never disappoints!
ARCHEOLOGICAL TOUR OF DOSS ZELOR
Morning of day five and we had arranged to meet with Cristiana (Val di Fiemme Tourism) for an excursion to Archaeolab al Doss Zelor (archaeological site). Lily-Belle was excited for this activity as her desire is to become an Archaeologist. Unfortunately, we were given a winter timetable and buses run at different times throughout summer. Having stood for an hour, we concluded that the activity would have begun without us. Thankfully, Cristiana was very understanding. Not wanting to waste the morning we picked up our car and drove to Alpe Cermis. During our visit in 2018 we met Federica, the manager of Alpe Cermis Ski Resort. Having stayed in touch we paid Federica a visit. In hand we had Spiderman goodies for her son (his favourite Superhero) all tucked away inside a Spiderman rucksack. Always lovely to catch up with those special people whom we meet on our travels.
PONY TREKKING AT ALPE CERMIS
The previous day whilst Lily-Belle and I rafted with Avisio Rafting, Mummy and Matilda wandered around. On their travels they came across a sign ‘Passeggiate a Cavallo’ and saw donkeys and horses. Passeggiate a Cavallo translates to ‘Horse Riding‘. A small island beside the Torrente Avisio River with horses and donkeys available for short rides, and a backdrop of the Dolomites. Knowing how much Mat-Moo wanted to ride on the little donkey, we paid a visit. Thankfully trekking was open and the girls got to pet and ride the beautiful nags. Lily-Belle rode a horse, and Matilda a small donkey. The guide led the tame animals and riders around a well-trodden patch between fir trees and under a dense green canopy. Our ride was the last before Passeggiate a Cavallo closed for lunch.
LUNCH AT BAR AL PARCO IN ALPE CERMIS
A short cable car journey took us back to the Alpe Cermis reception. Below us, the horses, that Lily-Belle and Matilda were riding a few minutes ago; were now untethered and cooling themselves in the river. Directly beside the car park at Alpe Cermis there’s a winding path that leads to a play park and viewing platform to take in the magnificent Dolomites and pine forest surroundings. The girls played in the water features and on the park apparatus whilst Mummy took photos. I was content just to sit and enjoy the panoramic views of the Dolomites and Val di Fiemme as we waited for our lunch to arrive at Bar al Parco. The food was excellent and reasonably priced. After lunch we hopped back in the car and set off to the meeting point for our afternoon activity, e-bikes in Ziano di Fiemme. E-bikes, that’s cheating isn’t it?
E-BIKES IN THE DOLOMITES
Once upon a time I was a keen road cyclist. I have ridden thousands of miles including charity rides from London to Paris, and Vienna to Prague. I’ve always been ‘anti e-bike’ so this activity was enough to give me collywobbles! What is an e-bike? In a nutshell it’s a battery operated bicycle…but you still have to pedal! Arriving at our meeting point the e-bikes were ready and waiting, as was our guide, Livio. Matilda was too little to ride an e-bike so she was placed in a tow-along trailer attached to my e-bike. At first the e-bike felt no different from riding a standard pedal bicycle, that is until you come to an uphill gradient and push on the pedals, then a small battery operated motor engages and gives you a boost. Dolomite hills become effortless and there’s no puffing and panting once you reach the summit.
The e-bike route ran alongside the Torrente Avisio River. We rode tarmac and gravel paths, passed through tunnels and over centuries old bridges. Even stopping for refreshments beside the Stadio del Cross Country del Lago di Tesero where Nordic Combined (cross-country skiing and ski jumping) will take place at the 2026 Olympics. Lily-Belle asked to buy a bottle of water. Once in hand, she poured the water out, then filled the bottle at a fountain with fresh water running down from the mountains. Madness! Our guide was a pleasant man, and knowledgeable about the local areas, even suggesting places to visit if we had spare time…which we didn’t. After three hours of cycling we returned to ground zero. Although I’m not quite an e-bike convert, I would consider hiring one for mountainous holiday cycles. Tired, a relaxing night in at Aparthotel Majestic and a visit to Kids Club.
ANTS, MASTERS OF THE MOUND
The sixth day arrived far too quickly and after a busy week in the Dolomites, The Callaghan Posse were beginning to flag. Our morning activity was nothing too strenuous, Masters of Butter at hut Malga Ora in Passo Lavazè. Once there, a gentle stroll lead us up a dedicated track. On route we encountered huge ant mounds. Our guide prodded the mounds with a twig to show the ants aggression, and the foul smell they give off when under threat. Nasty! A few months before we arrived, a devastating hurricane – Tempesta Vaia; wreaked havoc as it tore through the Italian Dolomites flattening Cavalese and the surrounding areas. It was clear to see the destruction the tornado had caused with landslides, rockfalls and fallen trees everywhere. Millions upon millions of trees in the Dolomites destroyed and thousands of homes damaged.
MASTERS OF BUTTER AT PASSO LAVAZÈ
At Malga Ora there was a pen with fluffy llamas, a favourite animal of Lily-Belle’s. Once at the outdoor seating area, a lady arrived with a Zangola. A wooden box with a handle and a paddle within which spins when the handle is turned. Children took turns turning the handle starting with the youngest first. As the churning progressed, and the milk became butter; the handle became almost impossible to turn. It takes 10 litres of milk to make 1 litre of butter. Baskets of bread were placed on the tables and the butter was placed on each table. The butter was creamy, really fresh, soft and full of flavour. Lily-Belle and Matilda didn’t like the taste at all. But, they did try to put on a brave face so as not to cause offence, and pose for a photo of course!
After butter making we opted to stroll back down the path. Our walk was serene and we used the time to enjoy the different flora and fauna whilst taking in the Dolomite views and observing the busy ants. At ground zero there was a restaurant and we didn’t have to wait to be seated. My iphone had taken a leave of its senses so this lunch stop allowed me to do the necessary to fix it! Technology, great when it works but a nightmare when it doesn’t! Unbeknownst to the girls and I, Mummy had already done a recce of the restaurant in the hope that it served a local delicacy, fortaie, (known as stràboli, strauben or strauli in other regions). Whatever the gooey treat is called, it’s seriously delicious! The more fortaie you tuck into, the more fortaie you crave, and one plate between four is never enough!
A DAY ON THE FARM
After lunch we made our way to Tesero, Pampeago for our afternoon activity in the Tyrolean mountains, One Day as a Farmer. I thought cow bells only existed in Julie Andrews movies, how wrong was I. The distant percussion sounds, ringing out across the Dolomites; really do sound like ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music! Arriving at Malga, we were greeted by a lady whom we assumed was the lady of the house. An elderly gentleman stood with a walking cane in hand, looking out across the pastures and his cattle. The farm was different to a typical dairy farm in Ireland with 100+ cows and large robotic milking parlours. This Italian farm was simple and back to what our ancestors farms would have been like. Our group listened intently as the farmer explained (in Italian) all of the workings of the farm and machinery.
PULL THE ‘UDDER’ ONE
The host led our group into the cattle shed to try our hand at milking the cows. Matilda point blank refused and Lily-Belle, being a tad squeamish; pulled the udder two or three times then gave up. If Granda is expecting our girls to inherit and work the family farm, I think he’s going to be disappointed! I couldn’t help but think how we wouldn’t get to experience this type of milking interaction with cows at home in Ireland. Not much health and safety about in the Dolomites, large cows with pointy horns meandered freely among the children. The only thing preventing us all from being gored was the elderly farmer and his cane. At one point Elly, cow number 2264, with curly horns; walked right up to me and just stood there. Confrontational or just wanting her photo taken, who knows! The elderly farmer moved Elly and her pals along swifly.
OH SHOE POO
One thing I neglected to do was take old trainers or walking boots to the farm. Members of the group were looking at my pristine white K-Swiss trainers and it was obvious what they were thinking – ‘they’re not going to stay white for long’, and they were right! Covered in cow poo and ruined! The faeces, sorry I mean faces; of the group when I removed my dung-covered trainers and cleaned them in a water trough…priceless! I’m just glad Mummy had baby wipes and hand sanitiser in her bag! Trainers semi-cleaned it was time to sample the farm produce. Really enjoyable as we all tucked into delicious homemade breads, fresh butter and sweet jams whilst drinking fresh milk. A cow/bull (didn’t hang around to check) scared the poop outta me and made her/his presence known by giving me a nudge. Still not happy about ruining my K-Swiss!
FROM UDDER TO CUP, FRESH MILK
The milk, which we squeezed fresh from a cow not 20 minutes before; was handed to us in plastic cups. Not at all like our ‘straight from the fridge’ fully pasteurised semi skimmed milk…oh, no, much, much warmer. Lily-Belle took matters into her own hands and devised her own cooling method utilising the cows drinking trough. That was until Mummy told her I had just cleaned my ‘cow poo covered trainers’ in the same trough! I chortled to myself as other children copied Lily-Belle and used the drinking trough to cool their milk. And shhhhhh, don’t tell Lily-Belle, but just to confess, I used a small trough beside the farm house to clean my trainers, not the cows drinking trough!
A FOND FAREWELL TO FRANCO AND FAMILY
With full tummy’s, our farm group dispersed and we left Malga, Pampeago. Just one special visit to make before leaving Val di Fiemme the following morning; Franco’s. Our arrival to Franco’s came just as his beautiful niece Lara arrived with fresh pesto from Mama’s garden. Franco insisted that we ate alongside his wonderful family. Mummy panicked as she doesn’t like pesto. Franco arrived at the table with a pan filled with pesto spaghetti and the aroma alone was enough to make us salivate. Matilda didn’t eat the pasta…she inhaled it! You’d have thought that she hadn’t been fed the whole holiday. Deliziosa! And Mummy is now a pesto convert!
Who’d have thought that we’d be in the Dolomites, enjoying home cooked Italian food with an authentic and wonderful Italian family, as well as drinking vino and eating the best gelato that Italy has to offer! This amazing hospitality is why we return to Bella Italia annually.
ALPINE COASTER IN THE DOLOMITES
After a week of Summer Activity Programme in Val di Fiemme, we had planned a few days in Croatia to relax. A mix up with our Croatia arrival date meant an extra day in Val di Fiemme. The girls were thrilled! One thing that they wanted to do on our Italian Dolomite summer holiday was ride the Alpine Coaster Gardoné at Ski Center Latemar. In 2017 Matilda was too short and wasn’t allowed to ride. Thankfully Mat-Moo had grown and was now tall enough to ride the thrilling Alpine Coaster Gardoné this time around. The coaster car hurtles down the Dolomite mountainside with only a brake and fear preventing the rider from travelling at warp speed. It’s almost impossible to concentrate on the winding track with amazing views of the Dolomites catching your eyes. Matilda thought Mummy was too slow, then rode with Daddy the second ride, much faster than Mummy.
A TUBBY DOUGHNUT TRACK
Just beside the Alpine Coaster Gardone is the fun and thrilling Tubby Track. Take one of the round inflatable dinghy’s and use the magic carpet to transport yourself to the top of the track. Sit inside the dinghy, hold tightly to the handles and off you go go….whoosh! The doughnut-shaped dinghy flies down the track rotating on the bends. Great fun and the girls had maybe 7 or 8 goes each before we made our way back down the mountain in the cable car.
SKI JUMPERS DO NOT NEED SNOW
Ski Center Latemar lies just on the outskirts of the town of Predazzo and is well known for its world class Ski Jumping Stadium. The stadium was named after Giuseppe Dal Ben, a local personality who supported and promoted the values of sport to many generations of Val di Fiemme. Mid summer and the car thermometer was reading 36°C and definitely not a day for ski jumping…or so we thought! The Giuseppe Dal Ben Stadium will host the 2026 Olympics and even on this scorching hot summer day, the jumpers were out practicing; obviously no snow required. AstroTurf and a sprinkler system gives full ski functionality throughout the year. We sat and watched these fearless ‘flyers’ glide down the slope and soar effortlessly through the air before landing and coming to a stop. Flawless! Next stop an evening meal at Aparthotel Majestic.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: OUR STAY AT APARTHOTEL MAJESTIC IN PREDAZZO
ALL GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END
Our week long Summer Activity Programme in the Italian Dolomites and our stay in Val di Fiemme had sadly come to an end. It’s always with a heavy heart when we leave Italy, even though we do have an amazing time and know we’ll return soon. Before leaving we dropped in with Cristiana (Val di Fiemme Tourist Board) to say thank you for her exceptional kindness in organising our excursions, and to bid a fond farewell to our new friend. Next stop, Croatia.
WOULD WE GO BACK?
Whether you visit the Italian Dolomites or Val di Fiemme in Summer or Winter there’s something for everyone. Although we have been to Val di Fiemme twice in recent years, we have barely scratched the surface of the many amazing activities this spectacular region has to offer. We already have the 2026 Winter Olympics pencilled into our diary and I’m fairly certain we will return to the Italian Dolomites many more times before then.
With a very special THANK YOU to:
- CRISTIANA TOMASINI (Marketing Office Val di Fiemme) – for your kindness and for organising an amazing week filled with fun activities from the Summer Weekly Programme in Val di Fiemme.
We are truly grateful to you for your impeccable hospitality and we had a fantastic experience working alongside Val di Fiemme Tourism on this collaboration. Until our next visit…a presto, baci e abbracci.
LILY-BELLE SAYS (10)
We have been to Italy a few times but this was by far my best holiday. The accommodation was great as was the pool. And I really enjoyed the Summer Activity Programme organised by Cristiana. Daddy and I had so much fun river rafting and I would love to do this again.
MATILDA SAYS (4)
Going to the waterpark and having baby frogs swim on my toes was really funny and I found gold in the sand pit. And I really liked riding on a pony and going down the big slide on a doughnut but no way was I touching a cows udder!
Date(s) of stay: 3rd July – 11th July 2019
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[disclaimer: Our Summer Activity Programme in Val di Fiemme was gifted by Val di Fiemme Tourist Board. Gifted item(s) were provided in return for social media and blog coverage. This blog post contains external links but we do not receive any commission or payment if you click these links]
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