Summertime is a time to relax, to enjoy and to reminisce. This year, I have had the time to think back to early days of my Porsche passion and to renew Passo Tourismo’s love affair with the Dolomite Region of Südtirol.
For years, people had been trying to coax me into a road trip to Italy. Everyone raved on about their excellent summer holidays in the Toscana or Liguria. First off, my Francophile nature was more apt to “pull me” off to some place in France and secondly, Italy just seemed so far away.
In any case, I was finally convinced to plan a trip for a couple of other Porsche enthusiasts that really wanted to travel mountain passes. So, after a bit of research, I soon learned that the highest density of pass roads, at the highest available altitudes, was only available in the Dolomites. A few weeks later, we were off. It was probably the most memorable driving experience that I have ever had. The roads, the panoramic views, the friendly locals, the excellent cuisine, the simple but very good hotels, all of it was just perfect. And so, the cornerstone of Passo Tourismo was laid. It would take another 9 years before Passo Tourismo was truly born, but those first experiences in this magical region have stayed with me to this day.
But then, there was the confusion of the name of the region. I smelled a story, so I delved into some of the region’s turbulent history.
“Alto Adige”, “Südtirol”, or “Haut Adige”? What to these somewhat awkward names have to do with one of the most spectacular regions in Europe? Well, the answer is just as awkward and dates back to 1804. Under Napoleon Bonaparte – you remember the small Corsican guy that set his mind on conquering all of Europe – this pristine region of peaceful alpine farmers and traders was annexed from the Austrian Empire overnight. Apparently, he didn’t understand what the locals were calling themselves in their native tongue (“Ladin”) so he went ahead and renamed the entire region Haut-Adige, after the Region’s most dominant river, the Etsch (which, apparently, he couldn’t pronounce either). However, those peaceful alpine farmers and traders weren’t particularly interested in being ruled by a diminutive tyrant, who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept them for who and what they were. Then, Napoleon suffered his infamous defeat at Waterloo. Once again, the locals became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Life remained fairly peaceful until 1914, when the next group of megalomaniacs tried to conquer Europe, this time their Austrian-Hungarian brothers along with their Germanic second cousins. All in all, things were fairly calm in the region, when compared with the trench warfare in France, but plenty of battlements and ordinance can still be seen today. Ernest Hemingway spent some time on the Italian Front (driving an ambulance and having his way with the ladies) and wrote “A Farewell to Arms” based on some of those experiences.
With the end of the War in 1919, our now somewhat nationally confused Tyrolean/ Italian/ French/ Austro-Hungarian friends became officially Italian under the Treaty of Saint Germain. This, however, was contested by Austria until 1992(!) and thus, has created a very unique cultural enclave in Europe.
We love the Region for all that it has to offer, whether that be finest regional cuisine, unique pass roads and breath-taking panoramic views. And, the stories just make it all the more interesting. It continues to be one of our absolute favorites and we look forward to travelling there for years to come.
In the spirit of reminiscence, we would like to invite you to explore this unique region and are offering a SELLA RONDA Special between September 10th and October 15th. This special tour is bookable between today and October 1st and includes all of Passo Tourismo’s unique packaging to fully enjoy a 3-day tour in the region at a time of the year, when the Dolomites are at their absolute best, all for €2,399.00 (double occupancy). So, jump in and set off for an adventure that you are sure to remember in 10 years time, just as I remember my first jaunt there.