1. Give yourself plenty of time. In other words, go for a week, or maybe two, take walking shoes and – if you’re European – walking sticks. But if you only have a day, leave early. That is, before 9 am. Because this will take a lot longer than Google maps might suggest. (Though if we had actually mapped our route on Google maps, we would have realised there was about six hours of driving involved.)
2. Driving from Vittorio Veneto, one of the locals recommended stopping in San Vito di Cadore for a coffee and pastry. I was ready for a coffee – it had been a couple of days since my last one, and I was feeling sleepy and a bit grumpy. Coffee (and a pastry) would perk me up nicely. What I wasn’t ready for was the view from the pasticceria.
3. Stop in Cortina, but please don’t end there. It is a charming but touristy town, worth a quick visit. But frankly, the best views are from around Cortina, or on the road out, looking back across the town.
4. Go off the beaten track. Thanks to our Slovenian friends, we went off the main scenic roads marked on the map, and followed the Giau Pass road. This has some of the most stunning scenery I think we’ve seen anywhere. Everywhere we looked, it was gorgeous. I’ve heard the phrase “drinking it all in” but I understand it now. Thirsty for that mountain scenery. Divine. (The Pordoi Pass was also beautiful, But after the Giau, the San Pellegrino pass had lost its fizz and fell rather flat).
5. Ensure your driver is either extremely polite, tolerant, or just as keen as you are to get good photographs, because you are going to …
6. Stop often for photographs. This is compulsory. The views are spectacular, and you want to stop and take advantage of shots when you see them, because around the next corner, the view will have changed, and there’ll be some new splendour.
7. Be unashamed about taking many photographs. Because the views are so beautiful, I was in a constant state of wonder. And that led to wondering if I had already got a decent shot, or whether I needed to take another. So I took another. Who cares if I have too many? All I need to do is delete them. I’m not going to force anyone to watch a slideshow.
8. Stop taking photographs. Take some time just to appreciate where you are. Photographs – unless you are an absolute whizz with the world’s best camera – are simply not going to convey the grandeur of the scenery, the 360 degrees of pure beauty.
9. Take time for a walk. Because the trails and tracks and forests and rivers and mountains all cry out to be appreciated in real time, real life, out in the sun, in the cold. We only wish we had longer than the half hour or so we spent. But time was ticking on (refer back to #1).
10. Eat local specialties – speck instead of prosciutto, hearty fennel seed flavoured bread, and apple strudel (you’re practically in Austria, after all).
and I can’t resist adding another …
11. Make a promise to yourself to come back, to walk all those trails, to ride on all the cable cars and chairlifts that were whisking others to spectacular views and interesting walks, and maybe even to visit in winter. A summer visit though, offers much.