In September 2020 I was invited to Vigo di Fassa, in the hearth of Dolomites. There I spent five amazing days hiking an cycling around. After that, I decided to held here my Italian seminary “Residenziale Fotografico” (link).
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In the end it happened, at the dawn of my 31 years I finally went to the Dolomites to take pictures. It was an incredible lack for a mountain photographer, and now here you can see what happened!
The occasion was the acquaintance with Giovanni (Rizzi), who in addition to having grown up in Vigo di Fassa here manages the splendid Ciasa Soldà, a historic manor that his family has been handed down for generations. “Come on Luca, come and stay a few days with us, we offer you the legendary Trentino hospitality and we take the opportunity for some photos of the surrounding landscape!”. How could I say no?
And so I left, on a Monday in September, towards the unknown Dolomites for me.
To tell the truth I had already been there, but as a child, when my father brought the Olympic flame to Turin 2006, a moment that made me proud in those days, even if today I would like the Olympics to rediscover humanity, as well as a more self- limited and sustainable dimension.
But let’s go forward to 2020: after having charged my car in Trento, I begin to climb wide roads that cross increasingly picturesque landscapes. I leave the junction for Val Gardena, and here I begin to notice the terrible signs left by the Storm Vaia of 2018. Lots of fir trees on the ground, entire slopes crushed under the wind, with gusts over 200 km / h. Nothing like this has ever been seen before, but we’ll have to get used to it, given what’s happening with the climate crisis.
Giovanni is nice and hospitable, he shows me my personal palace, where I can lean for the next 5 days. The view from the windows is spectacular: the village below, then increasingly sparse fir forests, and finally some stone pine and prairies, from which the famous rocky spiers start from nowhere.
What strikes me is the absolute order of the landscape, profoundly different from the Central and Western Alps I am used to. In addition to the action of centuries of anthropization, in which man has modified the landscape and its vegetation, what strikes me is today: there is no depopulation of the mountain, on the contrary, today it is more exploited than ever and has been completely devoted to the service of tourism.
Accessibility is the keyword: the roads reach everywhere, the paths are well-trodden and signposted, the ski lifts reach the top of many mountains, and many via ferrata have been equipped everywhere. While this makes these mountains much more enjoyable by ordinary people, this choice has sacrificed their soul a little: these beautiful peaks are always reachable, always “touchable”, and here everyone can go anywhere. A philosophy that is very distant from my going to the mountains, based on self-limitation and on knowing how to be satisfied, as a powerful engine of growth and the best way to connect with the alpine environment, which, although beautiful, is not our natural environment after all.
It struck me a lot to see people in panic tackle the via ferratas, terrified of the height and convinced that the rock face can only be tackled with cables and metal ladders. How nice it would be to initiate these people to real climbing, which despite a long and punishing learning curve, ultimately offers a total fusion with the rock, as well as greater safety and awareness in the environment.
Another discordant note were the motorbikes: hundreds of motorcyclists with very noisy exhausts come to travel at full speed the famous roads of the Dolomite passes. An uproar indicating the entertainment of a few, which disturbs many and takes away the poetry of the situation.
Anyway, the landscapes are really beautiful: the Dolomites have not entered my soul, but here I think I have collected some of the most aesthetically perfect images of my photographic career.
Precisely for this reason, I have chosen to hold my first photographic residential here.
Here I briefly describe the itineraries I followed, in case anyone wants to retrace my steps.
RING OF CATINACCIO or ROSENGARTEN (2 days)
I started at dawn from Ciasa Solda in Vigo di Fassa, climbing quickly along the farm road to Malga Vael, from here along an easy path to Col de Ciampac. Then I followed the via ferrata that crosses the Roda di Vael up to Pass dal Valoron. From here I went down west to take the main path up to Re Laurino, to take the easy ferrata up to the Re Alberto Primo refuge. Here I set up my small tent under the beautiful Vajolet Towers, leaning against the shelter for dinner.
The second day I almost went down to the Preuss Refuge for short aided sections, then going up north towards the Passo del Principe, reaching the Passo di Antermola. From here on a more delicate path I went up to Cima di Laussa, to then descend towards the spectacular valley of Lago Secco, perhaps the most beautiful and wildest place I have seen in this tour. From here, for a very easy via ferrata, I returned to the woods, where a storm surprised me, forcing me to stop under the roof of a hut not far from the Catinaccio Refuge. When the storm calmed down, I resumed my journey towards Ciampedie, where I took the steep path that quickly brought me back to Vigo di Fassa.
Overall the route is about 40 km and 3500 meters in altitude, calculate the time necessary to cover the 4 via ferratas on the route.
SASSO LUNGO-SASSO PIATTO (MTB tour)
On the third day I took the mountain bike and did the famous tour of the Sasso Lungo-Sasso Piatto, a classic of this area. I particularly recommend this tour because, without any technical difficulty, it contains in a single day everything you would like to see in the Dolomites: the rocky spiers, perfect landscapes, mountain pastures and malghe that seem painted.
Finally, on the fourth day, I started from Pas Pordoi, along the beautiful panoramic route of Viel dal Pan, with an exceptional view of the Marmolada. From here I could also see the large sheets spread over the glacier to prevent it from melting. A therapeutic fury on a terminally ill patient that I didn’t really feel like photographing. On the other hand, the mountain pastures and the contrast between the green meadows and the north faces are truly spectacular.
I would like to bring back some more photos of the Catinaccio tour, which certainly earned this short but intense experience of mine in the Dolomites!