South Tyrol Designer Giveaway – WAMS socks and Re-Bello t-shirts

November 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Europe, featured, Giveaways, Italy, South Tyrol

The beautiful region of South Tyrol in Italy ticks lots of boxes; picturesque Alpine farmsteads, clear as crystal mountain air, stunning views of the Dolomites – but fashion? When I visited South Tyrol in September I met with two different fashion companies run by energetic young entrepreneurs who were taking inspiration from both the natural environment of South Tyrol and also the modern spirit of Italian design. With the fashion capital of Milan only a couple of hours away these companies can enjoy a lifestyle surrounded by nature while tapping into the best fashion design and production facilities in the world. Read on to find out how fashion and design is thriving in South Tyrol and to enter my South Tyrol Designer Giveaway of WAMS Socks and Re-bello T-shirts – just in time for Christmas!

WAMs featured

Where Are My Socks? Italian Designer Socks from South Tyrol

My first stop on the South Tyrol Designer trail was to meet Robert Larcher and Daniel Kaneider, founders of WAMS?! Socks in their office just outside Bolzano. I call it an office but in true start-up fashion, they have crammed their showroom, warehouse, design hub and working space into a basement room of Robert’s apartment. I instantly felt the fun, fashion vibe with washing lines of latest sock designs strung over their desks and promotional leaflets from their latest collaborations covering the tables.

Robert Larcher and Daniel Kaneider, founders of WAMs Socks in Bolzano, South Tyrol

Robert Larcher and Daniel Kaneider, founders of WAMs Socks in Bolzano, South Tyrol

The two entrepreneurs met when studying economics in Innsbruck and decided they wanted to start a fashion business – fashion seems to be in the blood of every Italian male! They felt there was a gap in the market for colourful designer socks that were top quality but moderately priced and started work with a freelance designer to create the first collection. The tongue-in-cheek name of WAMS or “Where are my socks?” came about because the pair were always losing their socks in the wash so they wanted something bright and easy to spot. Now the range is constantly changing and there are often special editions such as the collection they made to match a Re-bello t-shirt line or the special snowflake sock they made for Snowdays, Europe’s biggest winter sport event for students.

WAMS socks

WAMS socks

The socks are made of top quality combed cotton in a factory near Verona and the company is proud to be selling a 100% ‘Made in Italy’ product. The local production means they can respond to fashion trends and work with other South Tyrol designers on special projects. Daniel told me “If someone asks me for a special design, I can call up the factory and in an hour I can be in Verona to discuss it with them”. The socks are stocked in over 50 stores around Italy and are also available to buy online through the WAMS website.

All the designs are unisex and in two lengths since Italian businessmen prefer to wear longer socks that don’t show any ankle, while those looking for fun and fashion will go for the ankle length. The socks retail at €12 for the ankle length and €16 for the longer length with a €48 gift box containing 4 socks that is very popular at Christmas. Robert and Daniel kindly gave me 4 pairs of socks in their most popular designs to give away in one of the gift sets – see below for more information on my South Tyrol Designer Giveaway.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 17.07.23

Follow WAMS?! socks on their website where you can order their socks,  ankle length socks €12, knee length socks €18, gift box with 4 socks €48, free shipping within Europe for orders over $40 otherwise shipping within Europe is €5.  Follow their social media channels Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Read on to the bottom of the article for details of our WAMS Socks giveaway

Re-Bello – Sustainable Street style from South Tyrol, Italy

My next stop on the South Tyrol Designer trail was at the Re-Bello warehouse on the outskirts of Bolzano, where I met founder and CEO Daniel Tocca. After completing a degree in economics Daniel went on to complete a Master’s in Entrepreneurship in Rotterdam and realised that this was the path he wanted to take in business. After a false start working for a year in a multi-national corporation he gave up his job and in 2010 returned to his home town of Bolzano, where he joined with two friends to work on the concept for their new start-up venture.

Daniel Tocca, CEO of Re-Bello Sustainable Street style from South Tyrol, Italy

Daniel Tocca, CEO of Re-Bello Sustainable Street style from South Tyrol, Italy – with some of his t-shirt designs

They wanted to work in the fashion sector which is well developed in northern Italy, as Daniel put it ” Already when Italians are 13 or 4 they have an eye for beauty and fashion, it is in our blood like football.” Their vision was to develop a fashion brand that was based on sustainability, since this was a growing movement in Italy and Europe in areas like organic food, but was not well represented in the fashion sector. They started to source and develop sustainable yarns and fabrics, using bamboo and eucalptus as well as organic cotton and up-cycled wool, and to develop a plan to build the business. Daniel told me “Sustainability is not only in the clothes, in the materials, in the hang tags and everything we use, but also in the philosophy of how we should develop our company for long-term growth”.

At the start Daniel worked with a freelance designer to develop the fashion concept of Re-Bello – a beautiful rebel who wants to change things but in a beautiful way. Each range follows the season’s trends but draws inspiration from street-style, punk and rock and is inspired by the 23-35 year old fashions, although all ages may be attracted to the stylish designs and sustainability concept. The t-shirts designs are where the company started and Daniel showed me a banner made up of all their best-selling t-shirt prints, many of which become signature prints that transfer from one season to the next.

Re-Bello Autumn 2014 collection - Italian Sustainable Fashion

Re-Bello Autumn 2014 collection – Italian Sustainable Fashion

The fabrics used are top quality, with a silky finish and the unusual yarns are a key part of the sustainability approach. Bamboo grows in the wild and when cut it will quickly grow back at 15-20 cm a day, while Eucalyptus (sold under the Tencel brand) is also a semi-wild plant and so does not require intensive cultivation methods or large amounts of water. Organic cotton is also used as well up-cycled wool, taken from the offcuts from woollen garment manufacture which is re-cycled to make a new yarn for the Re-Bello knitwear. The company uses natural dyes, avoids garment finishes that use any harmful chemicals and their production methods are certified under recognised standards such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and OEKO-TEX Standard 100.

Despite all the work that goes into the sustainability of the Re-Bello fashion ranges, Daniel told me “I want to attract the customer who doesn’t necessarily know about our sustainability philosophy, who buys because of the style, they love the materials and how they feel. Then they go home and wear it and they understand the sustainability message and feel good about that.” The natural beauty of South Tyrol is a big inspiration for the sustainability approach of Re-Bello and a reason why they are based in Bolzano rather than the fashion hub of Milan. Daniel told me “When you come here the first thing you see is that nature is everywhere, even if you are in the centre of Bolzano you look up to see the mountains around you. The nature and sustainability of South Tyrol is what will keep Rebello here.”

Read on to the bottom of the article for details of the Re-Bello T-shirts I’m giving away

Re-Bello Autumn 2014 range

My favourite looks from the Re-Bello Autumn 2014 range

Follow Re-Bello on their website where you can see more of their Autumn range and discover how their sustainable approach makes a difference. In the Re-bello online shop you can order some of the best-selling t-shirts, knitwear and jeans for both men and women with T-shirts from €39.90, knitwear from €69.90 and jeans from €99.90. Follow them on their social media channels Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube |

The South Tyrol Designer Giveaway – WAMS?! Socks and Re-Bello T-shirts

I’m really pleased to be giving away to my readers some of the WAMS Socks and Re-Bello T-shirts that were kindly given to me when I visited the designers in South Tyrol. Lucky you – just as you’re starting to look for Christmas gift ideas! I’m giving away a gift box of 4 pairs of WAMS designer socks and 3 Re-Bello T-shirts. You can keep them for yourself or gift them to that sister/ brother/ mother/ daughter/ son/ boyfriend/ wife/ special person in your life.

From WAMS Socks – I’m giving away 4 pairs of Socks in a gift set worth €48 which you can see in the photos below. There are 3 pairs of short and 1 pair of long length, 2 pairs in size 36-40, 2 pairs in size 41-46.

WAMS Socks Giveaway from South Tyrol

WAMS Socks Giveaway from South Tyrol

From Re-Bello – I’m giving away 3 T-shirts in designs and sizes listed below to 3 different winners;

  • Left: Batwing Tunic T-shirt Rose of Sharon made of Eucapliptus (Tencel) in size Large worth €39.90 – See it online here
  • Centre: Kimono T-shirt White + Dark Gull Grey made of Bamboo in size Large worth €48.90 – see it online here
  • Right: Batwing Tunic T-shirt Dark Gull Grey made of Eucaliptus (Tencel) in size Medium worth €39.90 – See it online here
Re-Bello T-shirt giveaway from South Tyrol

Re-Bello T-shirt giveaway from South Tyrol

How to Enter

To enter the South Tyrol Designer Giveaway please use the Rafflecopter widget (you can enter for both the socks and the T-shirts);

  • If you’d like to win the WAMS Socks, enter by taking a look at the WAMS Socks website and then leave a comment below this post to tell me which is your favourite sock design from their range.
  • If you’d like to win one of the Re-Bello T-shirts, enter by taking a look at the Re-bello Autumn 2014 look book for women or men or their online shop and then leave a comment below this post to tell us which is your favourite look or item from the Re-bello autumn range. In your comment, please also let us know which of the three t-shirts you’d like to win.

You can gain additional chances to win via the Rafflecopter Widget;

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

  • This giveaway is a prize draw/sweepstake
  • The prizes are a. 4 pairs of WAMs socks in a gift box b. Re-bello batwing T-shirt Rose of Sharon size L c. Re-bello Kimono white/grey stripe T-shirt size L d. Re-bello Batwing dark Grey t-shirt size M
  • Unfortunately no substitutes for design/ size/ colour are available since the items were given to me in South Tyrol and will be shipped my me from the UK to the winners
  • The giveaway is open to all readers in any location
  • The 4 winners will be chosen at random
  • The giveaway ends on Monday 24 November at midnight
  • The winners will be notified by e-mail within 7 days of the draw ending and must confirm their acceptance of the prize by e-mail within 3 days or the prize will be allocated to another winner.
  • The prize will normally be posted to the winners within 14 days of them accepting the prize and may be posted by the cheapest method, so this will determine when it will arrive.
  • The giveaway is restricted to one entry per individual although each individual may leave a comment for both the socks and the t-shirts
  • Any duplicate or automated entries will disqualify the entrant from this giveaway
  • Entering this giveaway gives permission for you to be added to the e-mail list of Heatheronhertravels.com but we will never spam you and you can unsubscribe at any time.

More things to see in South Tyrol

Cycling with wine and apples – on the South Tyrol wine road
Climbing my first Via Ferratta in South Tyrol
Traditional South Tyrol food and wine with a gastronomic twist
Messner Mountain Musem – before the time of man

Information, articles and resources for South Tyrol

For more information to plan your own visit, find accommodation and discover all the things to do in South Tyrol, visit the South Tyrol Tourism website and watch videos about the region on their YouTube channel. For updates on things to do in South Tyrol follow the South Tyrol Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram pages

My thanks to South Tyrol Marketing for supporting my visit to South Tyrol in collaboration with Travelator Media

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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A drive along the west coast of Sardinia – Flamingos, black rice and dancing candle men

November 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Europe, featured, Italy, Leisure, Museums, Sardinia, Sightseeing

In this article, our guest author, Astrid Ruffhead takes us on a drive along the west coast of Sardinia from the bustling capital Cagliari to the coastal resort of Alghero taking in the candle festival of Sassari.

Located on the southern coast of Sardinia, Cagliari has throughout history been a leading trading seaport in heart of the Mediterranean. The oldest part of this bustling capital is the Castello, perched like a crown on top of the hill in the town centre. Park the car outside the city walls and enter the city via the Porta Christina. Immediately to your left you find the former Arsenal, now housing the city’s most important museums; those of Archaeology, Oriental Art and the Municipal Art Gallery.

Entrance to Museum area in Cagliari

Entrance to Museum area in Cagliari

The grid-like layout of the city makes it easy to find your way around. Walk along the Via Martini and you will soon be standing outside the Town Hall. Inside is the helpful tourist office and on the first floor are the Sala Della Rappresentanza and Sala del Consiglio Comunale. On their walls hang numerous paintings of important events in Sardinian history. To me, it gave a visual aid to Sardinia and its relationship with mainland Italy, but what struck me most, being a paranoid and security-anxious Londoner, was the openness of the place, no security checks or guards anywhere.

Interior of Town Hall in Cagliari, Sardinia

Interior of Town Hall in Cagliari, Sardinia

The same street leads you down to the impressive Romanesque façade of the Cathedral on Piazza Palazzo, built by the Pisans in the 12th century. Dedicated to Santa Maria, this place of worship is extensively decorated in different types of marble in the Baroque style. I was there on a Sunday and the cathedral was packed full, so many locals and visitors chose to sit on the steps outside to listen to the ceremony and music in the glorious sunshine.

Cathedral facade in Cagliari

Cathedral facade in Cagliari

Antiques is one of my passions in life and I had months in advance planned to be in Cagliari on the second Sunday of the month so that I could fully indulge myself at the antique market on Piazza Carlo Alberto, an event which every website had assured me takes place every second Sunday of the month – the day I was there. Nobody though, had added the words ‘except for August’…Oh well, time for lunch instead. I found this lovely trattoria serving wonderful seafood in one of the many narrow alleyways within the Castello.

Prawn on black rice and honey sauce

Prawn on black rice and honey sauce

The coast road to Oristano

From Cagliari we took the motorway towards Oristano. From there on, the coastal road is one I will always remember, simply breathtakingly beautiful. Sandy beaches or rocky outlets are embraced by the clearest waters I have seen for a long time, colours ranging from dark ink and celestial blues to a soft shimmering turquoise. As cliffs get higher and the roads getting narrower, to my great surprise, long legged pink flamingos can be seen around the salt plains that are now vast nature reserves.

The coastal view at Oristano, Sardinia

The coastal view at Oristano, Sardinia

Continuing north, we made a stop at the pretty little town of Bosa on the river Temo. Here is a good market on a Wednesday morning selling fruit, cheese bread, a very good place for sampling delicious local produce. Get here early as market and everything else for that matter, closes at lunchtime. Boat trips are available on the river in the evenings and along the river you see the old tannery buildings from the turn of the last century.

Crispy bread puffs and fresh produce at the market

Crispy bread puffs and fresh produce at the market in Bosa

Arriving at Alghero

Closer to Alghero, the landscape changes again, becoming more fertile with many wine producing fields, including Sardinia’s favourite grape, the Vernaccia. Alghero has been a popular resort since the 1960s thanks to its long sandy beach but in the countryside south of Alghero you find may manifestations of the Nuraghi people, who lived on this island in the 10th-12th century BC.

In the countryside south of Alghero you find may manifestations of the Nuraghi people, who lived on this island in the 10th-12th century BC.

Evidence near Alghero of the Nuraghi people

Via Garibladi runs along the seafront and marina and its many bars and restaurants are filled with trendy people watchers. As always, I head for the oldest parts of town where I notice that this place has a very Spanish influence. Street names can be both in Italian and Catalan, going back to a time when the city was captured by the Aragonese. The San Francesco cloister from the 14th century is a reminder of this era and during summer months it becomes an atmospheric open air concert venue. In Via Calberto, you find many craftsmen selling local coral jewellery, much admired for its deep red colour.

Coral jewellery on sale in Alghero, Sardinia

Coral jewellery on sale in Alghero, Sardinia

As picturesque as Alghero is, particularly in the evening, it is the scenery outside the town that attracts me most. Do not miss the Capo Caccia peninsula. It appears like a huge sculpture before you, as you travel north of the city. In the air you might be lucky to see one of the few surviving Sardinian Griffon vultures or the more common peregrine falcons, who have masses of white cliffs to choose from as nesting grounds. But keep your eyes on the ground, particularly if you decide to take the 654 steps down the Escala Cabriol, (the goat’s steps) to Neptune’s Cave filled with remarkable stalactites and stalagmites. The only let-down is that you have to take all the steps back up again… It is easy to get out to Capo Caccia on a hop on – hop off sightseeing bus. The trip takes 2 hours and is the best value ever had for 18 Euros.

Capo Caccia

Capo Caccia

Sassari and the Giant Candles

Sassari is the second most important city in Sardinia. Municipal buildings in the Neo Classical style surround the large Piazza Italia. In its centre is a huge statue of Victor Emanuel ll (Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso) not only the first king of a united Italy, but also gives his name to the long main shopping street, Corso Vittorio Emanuel, which winds its way through the old town. My main reason for visiting Sassari though, was the annual festival of the Candelieri. This is an incredible day to be there, as from around lunchtime you can hear music and singing in the street, getting louder by the hour, as the Candelieri start practicing for the evening.

The Candelieri festival at Sassari

The Candelieri festival at Sassari

The event has its roots in the 13th century when the city was under Pisan domination and there was a tradition of offering a candle to the Madonna on the eve of the Assumption. In the 17th century and after numerous plagues had hit the town it took the form of religious thanks from the town guilds.

To this day nine guilds including blacksmiths, farmworkers, carpenters, tailors, greengrocers etc. parade through the city, each carrying a huge wooden column with coloured ribbons on top, representing a candle stick. It takes 8-10 men to carry this 100 kilo candle, at the same time walking, singing and dancing in a procession through the city. Everybody joins in with this fantastic celebration which ends in the evening when wooden candles are ceremoniously placed at the church of Santa Maria.

Astrid head shot copyMy thanks for this guest post to Astrid Ruffhead who after growing up in Sweden, arrived in London in the late 1970s, first working for the Swedish Tourist Board and later for VisitDenmark. She has also owned her own PR company, The Travel Gallery PR and a second passion is hotels. She lives in North London and is today working as a freelance travel and antiques blogger/dealer. Contact Astrid at: elegantforever2010@gmail.com or elegantforever2010.blogspot.com

More things to see in Sardinia

Bandits and Murals at Orgosolo in Sardinia
Swimming in river pools – near Gola Gorruppu in Sardinia
Sea caves and a boat trip – in Sardinia

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Climbing my very first Via Ferrata – in South Tyrol

October 21, 2014 by  
Filed under featured, Italy, Leisure, Nature, South Tyrol, video, Walking

Before today I thought that a Via Ferrata was a hiking trail with some sections of ladders and cables to keep you safe on the tricky bits. Now I’m in South Tyrol, in the heart of the Dolomites, I quickly realise that a Via Ferrata is not a hiking trail, but a rock climb and since I’ve never climbed in my life it’s a somewhat scary prospect. On my previous hikes in the Alps on the Tour de Mont Blanc I’d come across the odd cable or ladder, but always managed to find an easier alternative route. Today there’s no escape.

Heather peak

I meet my guide Veronika at the Catores Mountain Guide offices in Ortisei where she fits me out with the helmet and harness I’ll need, as well as the two karabinas and the rope that she’ll secure to my harness. The back story here is that these climbing routes, literally “iron roads” were originally built with ladders and cables to enable soldiers in the First World war to move around the Dolomites safely. Italian and Austrian solders, just as young and fit as the climbers I’ll meet on the mountain today, fought to dominate this area, building trenches and trying to blow each other up on the mountain.

I hope you enjoy my video below of climbing the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

If you can’t see the video above of climbing the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol, see it on my blog here or Youtube here and please do subscribe using the button above

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Despite the Austrians having won the battle, the Italians won the war because they were on the side of the Allies and in the post-war division of spoils were given the province of South Tyrol to add to their territory. These days the Via Ferrata have been restored to allow climbers to enjoy the Dolomites, beginners like me in the company of a guide, while more experienced climbers can use them on their own so long as they have the right equipment.

Taking the cable car to the start of Piccolo Cir Via Ferrata in Val Gardena, South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Taking the cable car to the start of Piccolo Cir Via Ferrata in Val Gardena, South Tyrol

The cable car takes us up the mountain to the start of our climb, although by now the cloud is swirling around us and hiding the peaks opposite from view. The path climbs steadily above the mountain restaurant, getting progressively more steep, while I get progressively more breathless. As I walk up mundane thoughts swim and swirl around in my head. Will my nails, newly manicured and polished for this trip stand up to the battering? What are the kids doing back home? How can I capture the experience (for your benefit dear readers) without my iPhone slipping from my hand and plunging down to the valley below?

Views of the Dolomites from Piccola Cir, South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Views of the Dolomites from Piccola Cir, South Tyrol

I scrabble for handholds to steady myself on the dusty rocks, wishing that I’d worn my fingerless cycling gloves that Veronika said I didn’t really need for such a short climb. At the top of the approach Veronika suggests that I take off all my rings as they could get caught or damaged on the rocks and I very carefully zip them into my pocket, terrified that I’ll drop my wedding ring and it will roll all the way down the mountain.

“Where are all the ladders and cables?” I ask. Veronika points up the mountain and tells me “this is just the start”. I look up at what seems like a sheer wall of rock with a cable running up it. Fear takes hold. I’m no climber. How on earth will I get up there?

At the start of the cable, Veronika shows me how I should clip on both my karabinas and slide them along with one hand while the other hand finds a hold on the rock. At the places where the cable is secured to the rock I unclip one karabina and clip it back on the other side of the metal bar, then do the same with the other karabina, always secured to the cable in case I fall.

Climbing my Via Ferrata in the Dolomites Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Climbing my Via Ferrata in the Dolomites

Veronika points out an edelweiss, an increasingly rare sight on the mountain. I once posted a photo of what I thought was edelweiss when I was walking the Tour de Mont Blanc, quickly to be corrected on Twitter that it was a thistle! This is the real thing – looking like a felt flower that you might tuck in your hat. Set into the side of the raw rock nearby, I spot a little shrine with a statue of the Madonna. “She keeps us safe on the mountain,” Veronika tells me.

A group is climbing up below us and I start to panic slightly – will I need to speed up or will I be holding up the entire mountain? They all look like they know what they are doing with wrap around sunglasses and tanned muscular arms. Veronika is endlessly patient as she waits for me to take my time and progress slowly upwards. In the meantime she takes out her camera and takes photos of me grinning up at her. I AM enjoying this, I tell myself.

Concentrating at a tricky bit on the Via Ferrata Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Concentrating at a tricky bit on the Via Ferrata

Now I start climbing in earnest and everything is focused on this moment. Everything becomes very small. One step up. I look up to find the next handhold. Now the next foot. Will I really be able to balance my weight on such a tiny ledge? Don’t look down. It’s just about the next handhold. It’s just about the next foothold.

Now I understand how climbing can be a kind of meditation to clear your mind of the jumble of thoughts and crumbs of everyday life. As I climb it’s not about admiring the views or the wonder of the Dolomites. It’s about this moment of concentration, the next foothold, the next handhold. Like a mathematical problem to be solved, there’s a sequence of moves that will get me up the rock face. If my hand goes here, then my foot can go there and my next hand here and my next foot there.

“Small steps”, says Veronika encouragingly “small steps”. But there are places where only a big step up will do, as I hoist myself up inelegantly, praying that the tiny ledge I’ve chosen as a foothold won’t give way. My upper body strength is pathetic and I’m feeling every old twist or sprain in my arms and wrists. I can see why climbers are so lean and strong and why they seem so calm and confident. Up here on the mountain is no place to get excited, you can’t take your frustration out on the mountain because the mountain will win.

Climbing the Piccola Cir Via Ferrata in South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Climbing the Piccola Cir Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

It’s a relief when we arrive on a flatter path with sheer drops on either side and take the opportunity to pose for a few photos. Now I have the chance to look around at the view. The cable car station is a toy town building down in the valley with the access track snaking up to it and the cloud hanging over the plug of rock that is Sasso Lungo.

Veronika is agile as she trips lightly up the steep slope, surefooted as a mountain goat. I scrabble behind her on all fours in undignified fashion trying to find handholds on the slope ahead of me, more of a spider than goat. A short climb later and we’re suddenly at the top, sharing a tiny peak of rock with two other ladies of my age who are chatting away as if this were  a social gathering (which it probably is for them). Once I am settled with my bottom on that peak they head down and now we have the whole of the Dolomites to ourselves. Without moving my bottom an inch I gingerly get out my camera and twist my body round to take in the panorama of jagged peaks around me.

Made it to the top of the Piccola Cir Via Ferrata Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Made it to the top of the Piccola Cir Via Ferrata

Veronika takes more photos of me sitting there, clambering surefooted up to the next bit of rock and leaning so far out to get the perfect shot that I feel sure she will fall.  I savour the moment of my success in getting up here but then the realisation dawns that I’m going to have to get down again. “Don’t worry” says Veronika “the way down is much easier”. I’m relieved that I won’t have to climb back down that vertical rock face, but first we have to rappel the short distance down off this peak to where we pick up the cable again.

Veronika instructs me how to lean away from the rock face, letting the harness take my bodyweight. “Two hands on the rope” she calls to me but I’m too scared and my hand reaches out for the cable, half scrambling, half abseiling down. Just below the peak we pick up a different path, easier than the sheer rock face as Veronika has promised but still not a walk in the park.

Walking back down to the valley Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walking back down to the valley

We are still clipped to the cable but the dusty shale and rubble slides underfoot and my muscles are now rebelling against the contortions they’ve been put through. I’ve scraped my knee and my thighs keep going into spasms. After my brief success it’s time to focus again, we’re not down yet. The cable snakes down a rocky couloir and again I scrabble as Veronika follows surefooted behind. At some point we abandon the cable but she still has me on the rope. Finally she expertly winds up the rope and we’re walking over the dusty rock on a path that’s barely there. Down to where the rock ends and the grass starts, down again to the cable car station and down again to the valley to pick up the car and drive back to Ortisei.

Thanks to my ever patient guide, Veronika Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Thanks to my ever patient guide, Veronika

Back in Bolzano that afternoon I meet a local lady and tell her of my daring exploits climbing in the Val Gardena. “Oh yes” she smiles, “that’s where we love to take the kids climbing on a Sunday”. My bubble bursts as I realise that for the locals a family climb in the Dolomites really is a bit like a walk in the park. But even though it’s not quite Everest, I still feel secretly thrilled at the achievement of climbing MY first Via Ferrata.

If you’d like to try a Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

The Piccola Cir Via Ferrata took around 4 hours door to door from the Catores office and around 2.5 hrs from the top of the Dantercepies cable-car station (1.5 hours climbing up & 1 hour down). All safety equipment (harness and helmet) was provided as part of the climb.

Thanks to my guide Veronika Schrott who can be contacted via the Catores Alpine School in Ortisei, Val Gardena e-mail: info@catores.com. The main office of the mountain guides is at Via Rezia 5 in Ortisei where you can arrange guided climbs, hikes and ski safaris in South Tyrol with routes suitable for families and beginners as well as advanced climbers from €95 per person as part of a group. Four people is the maximum each guide can cover.

For more technical details of the Piccola Cir Via Ferrata visit the Sentres website

Information, articles and resources for South Tyrol

For more information to plan your own visit, find accommodation and discover all the things to do in South Tyrol, visit the South Tyrol Tourism website and watch videos about the region on their YouTube channel. For updates on things to do in South Tyrol follow the South Tyrol Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram pages

My thanks to the South Tyrol Tourism Board for their support in this trip in collaboration with Travelator Media

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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