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A typical day walking around the Dolomites for these ladies – this lady was 80!

September heralds Women’s Health Week each year (and World Physiotherapy Day on September 8th) and as I am currently on holidays overseas catching up with my kids in some truly special places, I thought I would suggest a new hashtag to try and get Australian women walking more. Due to the abundance of beautiful, magnificent, scenic vistas plus a climate which is much less harsh than Australia’s and possibly a better transport system, older European women seem to walk/cycle and generally move more than Australian women do. I think this is why so many of the older women are so damn healthy. I would love it if #walkwomenwalk got to become a similar catch-cry this Women’s Health Week just as #runForrestrun did many years ago. (If you don’t know the movie Forrest Gump then here is the link to a description).

There are very elderly women (and men) hiking everywhere in Italy (and Switzerland) but particularly around Seceda because it is relatively accessible. We even saw people in wheelchairs being brought up in a gondola to admire the stunning view.

We were literally gob-smacked at how beautiful Seceda was

 Hot chocolate and cake for us at Baita Daniel Hutte

If you had this area in your back yard, it would be easy to keep your walking up. Seriously as you can see from the photos the landscape is breathtaking. We walked for a whole day in the Seceda region and you couldn’t turn your head without another landscape confronting you with its majestic beauty.

To get here we caught the cable car that travels from Ortisei to Seceda, then we walked along the east face of the Odle Mountains. We had lunch at a refuge there- the food is always very reasonable at these refuges as are the drinks – but we often took our own sandwiches and just got a drink (hot chocolate or sparkling water depending on the need at the time – there was no beer drunk as it tended to make us sleepy and it was a long way home). We have discovered this trip that zero alcohol beer is easily obtained and tastes excellent (as opposed to the decaf coffee which seems to have become impossible to locate here and when we find it, it is ghastly. Why is it that coffee in the home of coffee, Italy, is so terrible?)

Santa Christina Val Gardena Rifugio Firenze Regensburger-Hutte 

We walked to the Col Raiser gondola and went down to Saint Christina township and caught the bus back. When you travel through this region and stay in a hotel you get free public transport on the buses.


Michael loving the Dolomites

I would recommend a 3 night stay as a minimum at Ortisei – we stayed at Hotel Garni but I would stay in the village of Ortisei next time as Hotel Garni was up quite a steep hill which is fine for just walking up and down but when you dragging luggage up and down, it’s a bit tricky. The local bus took us from Bolzano and dropped us to the Ortisei square and then we walked 20 mins to our accommodation. It was pouring with rain when our local bus negotiated the winding, narrow roads and it is definitely better not to look ahead or down as it is a bit precarious. Also it is not wise to distract yourself on your iPhone or you’ll end up bus-sick (learnt that lesson the hard way a few years ago on the Amalfi coast). The best value gondola/chairlift card to buy to access the high mountain areas is a 3 day pass which costs 70 euros each. This allows unlimited access to most of the gondolas, open chairlifts and the funicular to Resciesa.

The second day we went up the gondola at Mont Seuc while Mike walked up from the ground level – it is straight up – definitely not for us. We walked around for a while up top and then caught the chair lift from Al Sole to Sporthotel Sonne to meet Michael and had a sandwich and hot chips (as he had done plenty of exercise even though we hadn’t by rights earned it) and around the plateau towards Saltria. We then walked across Ortisei to the funicular to take us up to Resciesa. This was yet another view of The Dolomites – they say its the side of the Dolomites that is always in the sunshine. It was another special afternoon just gazing at those glorious mountains. The return trip was a trifle laboured as we did indulge on an Aperol spritzer or two up there and it was a decent walk across town after the return trip down on the funicular.

The next day we left Michael in Ortisei and headed to Verona to break our journey onto the next set of mountains in Switzerland, The Matterhorn and surrounds. It was very hot in Verona and I was sorry we hadn’t stayed in the mountains to be honest, but we now know what we truly love doing.

So my message (somewhat belated due to complete exhaustion at the end of each day after averaging 20-25000 steps each day) for Women’s Health Week and World Physiotherapy Day is make a pledge to yourself that you need to start moving, keep moving and by walking more regularly you will feel the benefits well into your old age. It helps your circulation, your muscle mass, your bone density, your joint status, your mental health, dementia prevention and is wonderful for your pelvic floor. So much goodness in the simple act of walking!

And if you want help being assessed at the beginning of this journey, give your local physiotherapist a ring and she/he will help you get started on a programme.

The striking flowers that are everywhere in Ortisei