I've always had a special place in my heart for Italy. My parents met in Florence back in the 70's, and moved back to Tuscany when my sister and I were teens. It's also where my husband and I got married and where my sister and her family call home. We have visited Italy lots of times, but every time we go, we seem to discover a new gem of a place. This year was no exception!
Ahead of summer my poor sister was tasked with organising a family holiday for ten (plus a dog)! Our two families, and mum and dad..no easy feat. Let's just say she surpassed any of our expectations. From the moment we started our ascent into the Dolomites and Alta Badia, the grown ups gaped out of the windows in awe, as the kids genuinely started to question if this was in fact where the fairytales live...and who could blame them, we all half expected to see Rapunzel or some elves to appear from behind a tree at any moment. We knew then, it was going to be a pretty special holiday.
The youngest in our little gang turned four on our first day in Alta Badia and although she thought this made her a reeeeallly big girl, I was a little apprehensive as to whether she would be able to handle some of the treks my sister had planned. Well, I needn't have worried! The treks are so cleverly designed, you can always chose between various levels of "climb or steepness". As we had four kiddos in our troupe we usually chose to get a cable car "up" (much to my mums horror as she is terrified of heights!) to places we wanted to visit then followed the trails back down to where we started. One thing you'll notice if you ever visit the Dolomites, is that EVERYTHING is perfect...I have no idea how they keep signs so immaculate, lawns so green, paths so well maintained...even the rocks look perfectly placed. (maybe that's where the elves come in!)
With two kids under six, when we're out and about, even on holiday, I'm pretty used to hearing myself say, "not too far ahead now! Hold mummies hand! Noooo, not over there, I can't see you there"...and so it goes on. Not in the Dolomites!...There were no crowds to contend with. So often it felt like we had entire meadows to ourselves, the kids had such freedom to run, jump in puddles, stroke cows, skip across fields and literally smell all the flowers! I was so struck by how far they'd actually walk given the opportunity. It may sound dreamy...but it was.
I don't know if it was the fresh mountain air, the exercise or just being relaxed, but food has never tasted so good. Every trek is dotted with beautiful wooden cabins where you can stop for delicious local food (accompanied by a nice glass of wine or cold beer of course!) Outside every one of these cabins they have fantastic play areas for the kids too, so you can leisurely sip your wine (and actually properly finish it!) while the kiddos are having a ball..it's a win win!
A place that I would highly recommend visiting is the "Adventure Park" in Colfosco, the kids absolutely loved it and the dads didn't need to be asked twice if they wanted to have a turn too! There are five courses or pathways with varying levels of difficulty all constructed seamlessly into the treetops of a beautiful forest. Whether you have a cautious four year old or a brave fourteen year old, there is an activity to suit every child.
The Dolomites, set into the Italian Alps are probably better known as a winter escape; their vast slopes and rustic wooden cabins offering the best of comfort food, make them an extremely popular skiing destination. For Italians though, these mountains also provide a very welcome cool escape from the soaring temperatures and often crowded beaches in late July and August. For our family, it was a dreamy setting for a spectacular summer holiday..where the kids could truly be kids, the grown ups could relax (and finish their drinks!) and where everyone left believing a little more in fairytales than when they first arrived.
If you'd like to find out more about the area, and how best to plan your trip, Alta Badia has its own tourism we page - take a look here.
Photo credits: VanessaMVH Photography