The Exchange began Sunday,August 25, with 15 members of CAI-PNW being welcomed into the homes of their CAI Padua hosts.
Monday, Aug. 26
Our group assembled for a guided walking tour of Padova, focused on a broad range of cultural and historical information. Some highlights were the Scrovegni Chapel, legendary Pedrocchi Cafe “coffee without doors” and the University of Padua. The long, hot, but rewarding day ended at the CAI Padua office, when our hosts took us home for the evening – but not before a tour of the building revealed what a 3000 member-sized group calls “home” – replete with climbing walls!
Tuesday, Aug. 27
We were off to the Asiago Plateau and hiked to Cima Vezzena, a WWI fortification with expansive views and Austria in the far distance.
Wednesday, Aug. 28
We hiked CAI trail 802, once again experiencing many distant panoramic views. Especially memorable sites included Punta Altaburg and Alter Knotto. The area’s geology, consisting of a hard layer underlaid with a softer layer provided gigantic mushroom-like rock formations. It also produced the semi-tube formation which offered a unique setting for our picnic lunch. We returned for another night at Hotel San Antonio.
Thursday, Aug. 29
We headed back to Padova , taking time to hike up to impressive Fort Compolongo, then stopping to visit the WWI memorial at Asiago, profoundly reminding us of the lasting impression of the War on this area. We then made a memorable, tasty visit to the Asiago cheese facility to sample and purchase the renowned cheese. Our continuing trip included a tremendous traffic jam that reminded us of home.
Friday, Aug. 30
After driving to Chiogga, we boarded a passenger ferry to Pellestrina, where some of us biked and others walked along the waterfront, absorbing the Venice-like atmosphere. We relaxed over a fresh seafood lunch and some took a refreshing dip in the Adriatic before returning back to the ferry.
Saturday, Aug. 31
We toured the Euganean Hills, the Veneto’s first regional park, established in 1989. We visited several homes (castles) where the rich and famous lived during the era of the Venetian Republic – quite an eye-opener to the opulence of that time.
Sunday, Sep. 1
We hiked the picturesque area around and to Rifugio Berti. It was another gorgeous day, though darkened a bit with vestiges of WWI.
Monday, Sep. 2
Due to a soggy weather forecast, we replaced our scheduled morning hike with a stroll through the charming village of Sappada, with it’s colorful, flower-bedecked homes and out-buildings, admiring the countless wooden carvings and sculptures. As we resumed our drive to Lake Misurina, the threatened deluge caught up with us, so we lunched in our cars while it rained and hailed. We continued our way to Rifugio Auronzo on the scenic, private toll road.
From Auronzo we hiked to Rifugio Locatelli for the night, where the drizzle only slightly lessened the impact of the spectacular Dolomites.
Tuesday, Sep 3
We hiked back to Rifugio Auronzo via a WWI tunnel through the mountain, then visited Cortina en route to our lodging at Colle S. Lucia.
Wednesday, Sep. 4
We hiked up to Rifugio Nuvolau, with some of us taking the lift, which offered incredible views. The panoramic vista was spectacular and the mountain songs being aired at Rif. Nuvolau, while we lunched, were delightful, reminding some in our group of their youthful days.
Thursday, Sep. 5
We left St. Lucia after an especially pleasant, plentiful, delicious and nutritious breakfast. Before heading back to Padova , we walked to an old Ladin house, built in 1612 which is a museum dedicated to Ladin culture. The guide and well-curated relics greatly expanded our insight. One informative room was devoted to the Vaia windstorm of late October, 2018. We had witnessed the resulting damage in our travels as well as numerous logging operations that were removing the 300,000 trees blown down by the 200KPH winds. Our next stop was for a pleasant hike up to Rifugio Citta di Fume before proceeding home with one more stop – at a gelato shop which featured gelato sundaes that looked like spaghetti, but were typically delicious Italian gelato!
Friday, Sep. 6
A day to shop and pack for home or further travel, as our hosts prepared for our farewell dinner – a delicious repast featuring many tasty regional dishes, accompanied by a CAI Padova men’s chorus which serenaded us with mountain songs.
This highly successful Exchange was made possible by the camaraderie of everyone involved, the gracious hospitality of all the hosts, and the dedication of everyone who made and carried out all the arrangements.
Thanks to Clarence Elstad (CAI-PNW) and Angelo Soravia (CAI- Padova ) for coordinating the Exchange. We look forward to hosting CAI- Padova members next August for hikes and adventures in the PNW.
Reported by John Burnett