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The Five Towers

 
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Cortina The Five Towers Trenches with view More trenches
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The Five Towers from the back A stunning (but unidentified) range Devil's Paw? Dwarf azalea
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Yet more trenches A final view

A slightly different sort of day as we went on one of the trips, but it did have a walk included.

We went in the coach over the Fedaia Pass and picked up other people round the far side of Marmolada in Alleghe (which looked a lovely setting by the lake) and on over other passes to Cortina.

Say something about the music on the journey

Cortina: I can remember the Winter Olympics there in 1956 with Toni Sailer winning the three men’s skiing titles. It is clearly a pick skiing resort (ie an expensive place) with a pedestrianised main street where you go to be seen rather than to shop. It is very stylish and we had a cup of coffee on a balcony to engage in some people watching. For all this it is a lovely setting being surrounded by mountains.

We then headed up to the Five Towers. This involved a skilift ride to the top and walking down. It’s only a couple of miles or so but it is a brilliant walk because it packs so much in, viz

there is a superb traverse underneath them. The Towers were the location for the opening sequence of “Cliffhanger” – as the guide on the coach had put it, “the bit where he drops the girl”. They had clearly slung wire across between two of the towers to shoot the sequence. However the amount of drop looked nowhere near as great as it did during the film. There were climbers out there though as we looped round the back.

The views across the valley are brilliant with lots of those tooth-like rock formations that typify the Dolomites.

This was the front-line during the First World War. The whole area is part of the South Tyrol which started the war as part of the Austrian Empire but was then ceded to Italy as its reward for having been on the winning side. It has been converted into an open-air museum with the trenches and gun placements recreated and the explanations include an English translation. Apparently the Austrians withdrew from Cortina and defended the pass here to protect the valleys to the north. The battle seems to have consisted of the two sides lobbing shells across the valley at each other and on the whole the Italians did rather better at it. Having said this more troops died from cold (well it is 2000m up) and disease than from artillery fire. For all that the museum is fascinating

The trenches being reconstructed are made of very white limestone and this really shows off the mountain flowers. The pick of the dwarf azaleas was quite stunning. Beryl found a plant which we had not seen before and which looked really unusual. She got talking to a couple of plant experts later in the holiday and they thought it was probably a Devil’s Paw; this is very rare – they’d never seen one. I include a slightly out-of-focus shot of it in case anyone can recognise it.

The trenches being reconstructed are made of very white limestone and this really shows off the mountain flowers. The pick of the dwarf azaleas was quite stunning. Beryl found a plant which we had not seen before and which looked really unusual. She got talking to a couple of plant experts later in the holiday and they thought it was probably a Devil’s Paw; this is very rare – they’d never seen one. I include a slightly out-of-focus shot of it in case anyone can recognise it.

The walk was steep and tricky enough in places to make you concentrate on what you were doing

 For the second half the walk changed completely into (mainly broad-leaved) woodland again to retain the interest  

 

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