Hiking Val di Funes with the Bava

This one is a tad overdue but better late than never! As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had quite an enjoyable experience teaching abroad in Arezzo, Italy. One of the perks of the trip was an independent travel weekend where we had the opportunity to head north to visit my good friend and no stranger to the blog Jim Groom, who packed up his family and moved to Trento, Italy nearly three years ago.

Mark Morvant, who has also taught in Arezzo, made the trek a couple years ago with extended family in tow, and even fixed Jim’s mower. Needless to say the stakes had been raised on Oklahomans visiting Trento. Having less mechanical and overall general manual labor skills to offer, I gifted an AC/DC-styled Blog Boys t-shirt as a thank you for the hospitality, which is a veiled inside reference to former OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant who recently coined the term on a podcast (The Ringer did a good job of explaining Blog Boys here). It’s also black, which is a 2016 call back to when I created a failed Change.org petition for a black Reclaim Hosting t-shirt.

The dates lined up to where we ended up arriving in Trento on the evening of my wife’s birthday. Jim had the wonderful idea of surprising her with a birthday cake which fittingly included an American flag and sparklers. Some would say we got to have our cake and eat it too. :-)

We stayed up just catching up and woke up to get a tour of downtown Trento before heading out for a family hike. Jim has been blogging about really getting into hiking since moving to Italy and it’s easy to see it’s appeal. The whole family (minus the Miles who has evolved into a cool and elusive Italian teenager since I last saw him) including Daphne the dog got involved. For me, it only takes being away from the kids for a few days before I start to miss the little rascals, so a family day was a much needed respite. True story: Jim’s youngest, Tommaso, thought I looked a lot like his cousin Liam. Tommy is  also rather polite and tries not to ask you your name again if he forgets it, so it was easiest for both of us if Tommy just called me Liam. I hope Original Liam doesn’t mind too much. In my head we are practically best friends though I fear the feelings might not be mutual since I don’t share in his interest of video games. That seems to bother him a bit as we were often left with nothing to discuss.

Anyways, the Funes Valley in the Dolomites hike is quite the story. The two mile climb was beyond picture perfect. We had it all: rolling hills, drinkable running water, and the gorgeous dolomites in the distance.

But the prize at the end of the hike was GampenAlm, a German restaurant which lies on the Villnoess Valley Alps between the Peitlerkofel and the Geisler peaks.

As soon as we made it to the restaurant, it started to rain a bit. We sought refuge under a tent and proceeded to eat like German royalty. The problems started when the wind and rain started to pickup.

I felt right at home with the thunderstorm but unfortunately for us the tent wouldn’t hold. It got blown down by the wind and we ended up squeezed like sardines inside the tiny restaurant with a traditional German band playing in one corner and a group of locals trying to relate to us American by singing Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver.

Tommaso was having none of this John Denver nonsense, so despite our best judgement we began the two mile hike down the mountain to appease the lad. I have to say, the dolomites are as a pretty in the rain and they are in the sun. It was a pleasant walk down despite my backpack getting soaked. Even today, I can still smell the hike when I open it back up.

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The hike was also the perfect opportunity to put my new Garmin Vivoactive 3 watch to the test as a GPS tracker for the hike. I got some cool data points below:

I’ve been itching for a smart watch for awhile. For whatever reason, the Apple Watch has never really appealed to me, and I wanted something focused a little more on physical activity. Garmin was the first GPS car system I had, so I’m maybe a bit overly brand loyal, but I am still quite impressed with their technology for the price point. This reminds me to mention that all the photos in this post that look really nice are from the Bava himself. I believe he sold me on upgrading my phone some time within the next few months.

The next morning, we got to experience the walk to school. Just simply walking to school, I double my daily goal of flights of stairs, which is nuts. No wonder Jim Groom is now in peak condition!

We ended our trip in Trento by visiting the Buonconsiglio Castle and taking an audio guided tour of the Aquila Tower (Eagle Tower) which had some incredible frescoes that depicted every month and their seasons of 15th century Trento. One thing I didn’t expect in Italy was falling in love with checking out and hearing about the frescoes, but I really really enjoyed that.

The earliest depicted snow ball fight. By Venceslao (Bohemian master) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have to say, of all the things Katie and I did in Italy, the Bava-fueled weekend cemented itself as our favorite. It had everything one wants: good scenery, good food, good talks, and good friends. Now all I have to do is to brush up on Fortnight by the time I get back so Tommaso appreciates me more.