What an incredible place! Castel Rotto and the dolomites was a beautiful area that resembled Austria more than it did Italy, probably because it was once part of the Austrian state of South Tyrol until WWI. Castel Rotto was much more Germanic, unlike anything we had expected to see in Italy! Instead of pasta and wine, we dined on sausage, speck – a prosciutto made of beef, and German beer.
Gondola and Hiking
The rolling green hills and mountains looked like a scene straight out of the Sound of Music. Our tour group spent the whole day hiking through the Dolomites. The weather cooperated and we were able to hike farther and longer than any tour group that our guide had previously been on. Because the weather was so nice, our guide Trina adapted to the circumstances and recommended that we all get gondola passes to take us up to the top of the mountain to have lunch. This is also one of the great things about the Rick Steves’ tours- that guides are equipped with the knowledge and creativity that allows them to adapt to any circumstance and to truly allow the tour members to get the most out of their experiences. The rolling hills of the Dolomites looked like a scene straight out of “The Sound of Music.” We got another perspective on the culture of this place as our guide told us about the witch hunts and trials as well as the myths and legends that these villages were founded on. She painted for us a picture of fear and superstition that was hard to imagine in such a breathtakingly beautiful place.
The gondola ride to the top of the mountain was a long trip that took over 10 minutes and provided a spectacular view of mist shrouded hills and grazing sheep. At the top of the mountain, we had a delicious German lunch of beer, sausage, and speck. We even tried the special dish that our guide Trina recommended - Kaiserschmarrn “Kaiser’s mess,” which basically consisted of a buttery pancake with ligonberry sauce and powdered sugar. It was apparently the dessert of choice of a certain historical Kaiser as a way for him to rebel against the strict diet his wife had imposed on him.