We are travelers and we value our time adventuring more than most material things, so when we discovered Wanderable, it was a no-brainer.
We knew we wanted to do two things on our honeymoon; hike somewhere exotic and beautiful (hopefully mountains), and eat delicious food.
While many places on our list offered beautiful hiking, we knew we didn’t want to eat dehydrated backpacking food on this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We ended up choosing the perfect place for both hiking in gorgeous mountains and eating delicious, authentic food...The Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy.
We began our trip by flying into Rome, which though isn’t ideal geographically given our destination, was much cheaper and also allowed us to visit places like Tuscany on our way back.
After taking a train to Venice (where we spent an incredible night walking and sightseeing and eating), we then took a bus to the small mountain town of San Cassiano.
While much of our trip in the Dolomites was spent in ancient farmsteads, we stayed in a luxurious and modern hotel in San Cassiano called Störes. This hotel was chosen by the agency, and we were blown away. There were three saunas, little tea stations everywhere, an indoor-outdoor pool, multiple “resting” rooms, and the meals we ate in our three-night stay were among our favorite dining experiences anywhere in the world. The breakfast itself could have sustained us through the day!
The views out the windows were of the small and charming town, surrounded by the tall vertical rock cliffs of the Dolomites. It’s a family owned hotel, and on Sundays they all dress up in traditional clothes and have a party in the lobby with all the guests! Even now when we are stressed out about life’s various hurdles we say to each other, “remember Störes!” We began our hike from San Cassiano well-rested from our travels, well-fed with local cuisine, and already completely enchanted by the Dolomites.
The Dolomite Mountains were occupied by Austria until WWI, and much of the culture and food remain representative of this. Now a part of Italy, the region is very remote and seems to be oblivious to the passing of time. Peppered throughout the mountains are tiny farms and homesteads, now used as refuge for hikers called “rifugios”, though many are still operational dairy and meat farms.
We booked a hiking trip through the mountains and hiked all day through unbelievable mountain ranges, staying in different rifugios every night. Even the most rustic of these farmsteads had incredible food and coffee. We hiked all day up rigorous mountains through wilderness and never-ending views, only to find ourselves sitting on the top of a range with an espresso, glass of prosecco, and plate of homemade pasta.
We saw men on horseback in lederhosen leading sheep through valleys, an ice canopy big enough to walk through at the foot of a thin waterfall, cows grazing literally ON the trail, churches on the edges of cliffs, and endless seas of mountain peaks.
Among the favorite of the rifugios we experienced was called “Fodara”, which was set deep in a valley surrounded by steep rock mountains. We came upon it after a long morning of hiking up very steep mountainsides, through tall misty pine forests, and across long rock plateaus.
Eventually the trail led us to a drop-off from which we could see an entire valley, Fodara nestled in the middle, cows grazing and white sheets drying in the breeze. We climbed down, checked in to our room and cleaned up. Famished, we headed upstairs to the restaurant which was in full swing for late lunch. We ate the best linguini with ragu we’ve ever had, with cheese and espresso for dessert (in the middle of a wild mountain range!). We dined on the porch overlooking the valley and noticed a cave on the mountainside.
Free of our packs for the rest of the day, we headed up the slope and eventually made it to the cave. From inside we could see the entire valley: the high trail from which we had arrived, creeks winding their way from the mountains to the valley drop-offs, and Rifugio Fodara buzzing with hikers and diners. We napped inside the cave until we were woken by music coming from beneath us; a band had showed up on the patio of Fodara and was playing polka music while children danced.
We then hiked further up into the mountains through deep green plateaus and huge boulders laced with dolomite. Eventually we came upon a magical waterfall, where cold clear waters fell upon crystals embedded in pink rock. We followed the waterfall down back to the valley and eventually back to Fodara just before the sun set. They served us traditional goulash for dinner (delicious, of course) and we played cards, drank wine, and watched the stars until our eyes fell weary and we retired, looking forward to our next adventure.
After our time in the Dolomites we took our time heading back to Rome, including a trip to Aosta (which was beautiful but not quite as charming as the Dolomites), and Tuscany. In Tuscany we stayed in an agriturismo, which is a farm that has transitioned into hosting guests, which was a beautiful way to experience the rich culture of the area. We also spent some time in Rome before flying out, and hit some of the tourist “musts” and historic icons, as well as some delicious restaurants while we were there.
The entire trip was gorgeous, delicious, and extremely fulfilling, though the highlight was definitely our time in the Dolomites. If we could do it all over again we may have just stayed there the whole time! It was the perfect place to experience a rich and exquisite culinary tradition while also being surrounded by a natural beauty that is both awe-inspiring and accessible.
We absolutely loved our experience with Wanderable, as each gift was so personable and special. Every time we stayed in a new place or sat down for a meal we thought of the people who gifted us that specific experience. We loved it so much that we made little videos thanking each gift-giver during the very experience they gifted us. When we got home we sent these videos to them as a token of thanks. We then made a compilation of all of our thank you’s (which was a lot!) and sent that video to everyone who contributed as well. It was certainly the trip-of-a-lifetime we hoped it would be!