Monday, 16 July 2018


In 2011, Jim and I joined a Bellissime Small Group Day Tour out of Venice to the Dolomites and Cortina. We loved the idea of seeing what many people believe to be Europe’s most beautiful range of mountains. I know what close friends are thinking. What? They actually went on a group tour? Tours are definitely not our cup of tea, but we decided that for one day, we could sacrifice our independence. 

Skirting the stunning Prosecco Region and heading into the Alps, it proved to be a day of gorgeous stops - walks around shimmering turquoise lakes, awesome scenic vistas, a stroll through tyrolean Cortina and a scrumptious alpine lunch at Malga Rin Bianca, a Refugio on the side of a mountain. The piece de resistance was our final stop at Rifugio Auronzo’s car park, elevation 7600 feet. Exiting our van, to a person, we six travellers stopped and  gasped, one muttering, “if ever there was a place that touched heaven.” In front of us and soaring an additional 2300 feet towards heaven was the breathtaking Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Our guide pointed out a commemorative chapel for the alpine forces, defensive caves carved into the massif, home to WW1 forces defending the Italian border from Austrian invasion, and the start of a 10km hiking trail which circumnavigated Tre Cime. Jim immediately looked at me and mouthed, “hiking trail!” Then simultaneously we said, “Promise!”

As loathe as I am to admit it, I have been known on occasion to make errors, colossal errors! 🤪  On a 2013 trip to Switzerland, I managed to make what has to be my most colossal travel blunder. During our Swiss visit, Jim and I made arrangements to dip down into Italy for a four day sojourn in Varenna on Lake Como. Sitting in our Lucerne hotel room the night before our drive into bella Italia, we turned on the television. Why, when all the programmes were in German, I still don’t know. Suddenly scenes of a massive multiple car and truck accident with blazing fires and obvious casualties appeared. The scene was straight out of a nightmare. Yellow letters on the bottom of the screen screamed,  Gotthard Stabentunnel. Exhibiting my characteristic calm, I grabbed our road map and shrieked like a banshee, “ That’s the 57km long tunnel we are driving through tomorrow.” To make this sorry tale short, after numerous calls checking options because of a closed Gotthard, cancelling our Italian hotel (they understood as we were coming from the north), and booking in Gruyere and Cully, on Lake Geneva, we collapsed into bed. We are, if nothing else, always flexible when travelling. 

The following morning I received a call from the concierge at our Varenna hotel confirming that we still wished to cancel. Are you ready? There was no current problem with the tunnel. The programme we had watched was a restrospective of a 2001 disaster in the Gotthard Road Tunnel. 
Oh, just shoot me! Remind me not to watch German TV again. Jim and I had now committed and paid for four additional nights in Switzerland. Luigi, who to this day I love, kindly agreed to cancel our reservation without penalty as long as we promised to stay at their hotel on any future visit to Varenna. I promise. Luigi’s parting advice? Senora Lockett, please come from the south next time. 😂

How does that proverb go? There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept. And so this September we head off for a northern Italy adventure, keeping one promise to ourselves and one to Luigi.

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