We only got three days in the majestic mountains of northern Italy, but we could have spent our entire 14 days there and still wouldn’t have been able to see everything we wanted to see.
We explored a few areas of The National Park of the Belluno Dolomites.
Miss Caroline got to celebrate her 9th birthday in Italy. I’ve mentioned before that one of our favorite things to do outside the U.S. is to find the craziest playgrounds and let the kids run wild. ai Pioppi Playground was no exception and definitely the craziest one to date.
We were lucky to even get in. We pulled up and found out they were closed that day. The man asked us where we were from and we said Utah in America. He said, “Well, you came this far to visit our park so come on in and play for as long as you like!” So we did!
There is this old man who owns a little restaurant in the woods far away from much of anything. To draw in customers, he went to work fabricating his own little amusement park on site. He has spent the last few decades adding more and more people-powered rides, including:
- Tall roller coasters with cars that needed to be pushed to the top starting spot
- Teeter totters with a 30-foot wingspan and 20-foot drop
- Seats in cages decked out with pedals to get yourself upside-down in a giant circle
- Pulley lifts that hoist you 15 feet into the air
- And much more!
It was so fun trying to figure out how to make each piece of equipment work. There were no directions and no one supervising, so we were all up to our own devices.
Now, I can’t recommend this place due to the liability claims that I’m sure would come. I mean, everything is made of hand-welded metal with sharp and rusty edges, there is very little as far as safety rails and seatbelts go, and literally no supervision. But man, we had a blast!! We were all smiling from ear to ear the entire time. Madeleine did get a head bump when a metal pipe came down on her head and Cara came away with a gnarly rope burn, but all things considered, we were just happy to come out alive!
Our walk down the mountain passed by 12 beautiful bronze depictions of Christ’s last few days on this earth.
How incredible is this? It began as a monastery and has slowly evolved into a destination for tourists and worshipers alike.
As part of our personal parenting style, we find a lot of value in exposing our children not only to other cultures, but other religions as well. We want Nathan, Madeleine, and Caroline to grow up without fear, hatred, or suspicion for anyone because of how they choose (or choose not to) worship God. We are all here together and can learn so many things when we look outside our immediate knowledge and surroundings.
So whenever we travel, we make it a point to talk about and explore the local religion. Here, we attended part of a Roman Catholic mass. It was all in Italian so we didn’t last a terribly long time, but we did our best to listen and feel the spirit that was there with all who were worshiping with us.
On a side note, the cafe here had the worst Italian food ever AND it’s also the first (notice I didn’t say last) place we experienced a squat toilet.
Easy Breezy! Or was it just breezy…?
The serrated Passo Rolle area of the Dolomite range is spectacular. We had big eyes on full views the entire time.
Rob really enjoyed driving the steep grades and switchbacks with the mountains peeking through the trees. The kids in the back? Not so much. Two of them got slightly car sick. I really liked the drive there, but I really didn’t like the drive back in the dark without any streetlights.
Our last night in the area we ate at a pizzeria where no one spoke English. Even then, our kids made friends with a young girl. They played and did what they could to communicate. It was great seeing them all adapt and have fun.
While the landscapes and architecture take my breath away, it’s the moments like these that mean the most to me when we venture out–worshipers letting us pray alongside them, builders inviting us to enjoy their creations, and children who don’t speak the same language finding a way to communicate and play together.
What a wonderful world.