Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seiser Alm and the trip home to Belgium

We finally reached the end of our 'Roamin Holiday' and on the last morning, packed up the tent to head home. Initially we had planned to split the 14 hour drive into two 7 hour days. However, during the week in Rome, camping along the Tiber River, the temperatures at night dropped to 2*C (30s F). So we looked at the map, realizing that we were coping well camping in low temps at night, and rearranged the drive home to include the Dolomites and another camping area high in this beautiful northern Italian mountain range.
But first- breakfast.
Ice coolers aren't available in Belgium, and most of Europe. They simply don't 'do' ice. So on this trip, we succumbed to purchasing food along the way. Making what we could and eating out a lot due to long days of touring. This breakfast was no different. We stopped in Pompeii the night before at a patisserie and asked the lady at the counter to pick out a 'breakfast selection for us'. She did a lovely, yummy job! 
The travel itinerary change was well worth the effort. We were rewarded with magnificent views of the quaintest villages and moutain ranges for miles.
Our camping book, designed to recommend fabulous tenting sites through out Europe had listed Seiser Alm, among others in Italy. In fact, their description of this campsite could not have been stated any better...
page 225 of Cool Camping says " If you're not the world's greatest linguist, you can be forgiven for getting tounge tied here. It's not the altitude, which can surely make you dizzy, but the language. You're in Italy, but with more than a hint of Swiss-Austrian-German twist. The cute little peak-roofed doll's housees are enough to make you start yodelling here and now, and the clanging cow bells make you wonder if Julie Andrews is about to come skipping over the nearest grass hillock. Seiser Alm (German moniker) or Alpe di Suissi, is in the very heart of the Dolomites. This region of the Alps is a sprwal of massive Triassic rock formations. Rising like doomsday monoliths from a soft bed of pine trees and Alpine fauna."

The book got it right. Nothing less than amazing. 

Of course, the kids were more than happy to get out of the car and run around the camp. While we set up for the night, they explored, high above sea level.

It would be remiss to leave out the bathrooms in this campground. More like a 'wellness spa' to be honest. When you've camped in nothing but the forest  under the stars, walking into this place could make camping seem like cheating here. This was a photo of the kids heated bathroom, complete with their own shower stalls, toilet stalls, vanity stool and mirror, sinks under a mushroom, and roaming gnomes, of course!
 We took a quick drive around the nearby towns and headed out to find dinner.
Stella won the "best menu pick" this time - choosing a gnocci with asparagus cream for her dinner.
It was really delicious! (She was kind enough to share). 

We were slightly concerned about camping this early at a higher elevation. Snow was still covering the mountains nearby. The recptionist at the campground said we were the first tenters of the season, and she thought tent camping in 30* F temps was a "little fresh, but lovely". 
It was in fact "fresh" and chilly in the morning, but not uncomfortable at all.
Time to pack up, yet again- and head back to Belgium.   

We did make the journey home, but not until we played in the snow a little and drove around this amazing region of the Alps.

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