My memories in the Dolomites are many and go back many years ago, long before I had a camper. In fact, the Dolomites were and still are one of my favorite destinations for both summer and winter holidays.
I also tell you about it in my article
Instead, the first memories I have of this specific part of Italy date back to 2008 when we spent 15 days of vacation in the Alps. If I knew the other places and had already frequented them for several years, this part was a real discovery for me.
Protected by high peaks and by a single road which until the end of the 80s of the last century was a torment for those who had to travel along it, Comelico is striking for its panorama. The intense emerald green changes its shade depending on whether you cross wooded areas of fir trees or meadows used for grazing, dotted with innumerable barns and huts.
In the villages and towns, connected to each other, the bell towers soar, and everything is surrounded by wonderful peaks. In this corner between the provinces of Belluno and Udine, wealth is also made up of traditions. First of all that of its tabià (the ancient wooden barns), and then the processing of wood, ending with the production of milk and exquisite cheeses such as Comelico.
Whether you arrive from the famous Val Pusteria, via the Centro Croci Pass, or from Forni Avoltri with the Cima Sappada Pass, or from Auronzo di Cadore, now easier thanks to the tunnel, the landscape changes here. The visitor seems to enter a new dimension, away from the tourist bustle. Actually a background crash is heard. But it is that of the Piave which has its sources right in these parts.
It is a small corner of Italy which, in my opinion, offers tourism with many proposals, yes, but in a more peaceful and relaxing environment.
The most attractive location is certainly Sappada, which offers, among other things, a nice walk along the main street among the sports shops, bars, handicrafts and food and wine.
On the other hand, some ski lifts start here in winter while the others are in Padola, a ski resort connected to the Alta Pusteria area and where there is a beautiful cross-country ski track.
In summer in Sappada you can make wonderful excursions on foot, by mountain bike or on horseback; a dense network of paths accompanies the hiker everywhere along the whole valley or towards the Dolomite peaks with via ferratas, which I admit are not for me unfortunately.
Comelico not only nature
Comelico is also a land of culture: there are several museums, the palaces of rich families and the churches scattered throughout the various villages, testifying that the area was already populated in ancient times.
In Casamazzagno, a small hamlet between Padola and Santo Stefano di Cadore, for example, you will find the La Stua Ethnographic Museum. A collection housed in an old house built according to the regulations indicated by the Rifabbrico in the 19th century and spread over three floors. It tells how the view took place here between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, together with memorabilia from the Great War.
In Dosoledo there is the Algudnei Museum, spaces for Ladin peasant culture, which also retraces life in these valleys with interactive panels. And walking through the village you can see the road from the barns. These are well-preserved barns, some restored, lined up for a suggestive passage through the village with the Dolomite peaks as a backdrop.
While in the town of Santo Stefano di Cadore there is the second church built in Cadore and the first in Comelico. Some scholars date it back to before the year one thousand.
The Dolomites with a camper: Val Comelico
In the itineraries in the Dolomites with a camper, nature is the main component and so also in this journey in the Comelico area.
Among these mountains on the border between Veneto and Friuli flows a river rich in history, the Piave. The springs of the Piave on the slopes of Prealba are a very popular tourist destination also because from the refuge you can relax and enjoy the typical alpine panorama of the surrounding peaks.
Sorgenti del Piave Refuse @credit Visit Sappada
In the woods of this valley the famous “resonance fir” is born and grows. Unfortunately they are woods severely affected by the wind hurricane of October 2018 which destroyed a large part of the alpine forests and its passage is still visible today.
In reality, when we go up this valley it is the detour in Val Visdende that we love the most.
When we go up to Comelico, our stop is usually at the Sappada rest area in the Palù district. The area has 60 pitches and offers the possibility of loading and unloading water and electricity supply columns. The cost for parking for 24 hours is 12.00 and electricity is charged separately according to consumption of €0.33 kw/h.
Descending from Sappada in the direction of Santo Stefano, you pass the ravine on the Piave of the Acquatona waterfalls right on the border between Friuli and Veneto; then on the right, right in correspondence with the Val Visdende campsite, is the detour that crosses the Piave, with the Val Visdende sign clearly visible.
If you plan to stop in the valley in Santo Stefano di Cadore, you will find the Ranch Grande Nord farm, which offers, in addition to guided tours of the farm, also excursions with dogs, dog walking and sleedog in winter.
The Dolomites with a camper: Val Visdende
The road begins to climb immediately, crossing this narrow valley made up of rocks and pines and the soul is already happy and enraptured thinking of the panorama that it will soon see. On the other hand, it was one of the favorite places of Pope Wojtyla who defined it as the Temple of God, Hymn of the Creator.
As the valley widens and we trample the bridge over the small stream with the camper, the meadows and peaks appear to us, majestically embracing this corner of paradise, located at 1300 meters as if to protect it.
Before setting up for the rest, we usually take a short tour around the plateau; just a patrol, to enjoy the beauty of the landscape immediately, we will have all the time tomorrow to dedicate ourselves to the excursion.
You can stay the night in the rest area of the Albergo Ristorante Gasperina right next to the restaurant. It is only open from June to September, it is a bit spartan but with everything that is strictly necessary for a camper. And with the restaurant’s cuisine you can relax pleasantly!
Our first excursion in Val Visdende
The first time we went up to Val Visdende it was from here.
From the church where Pope Wojtyla often recited religious functions, take the carriage road. Climbing up, between hairpin bends, crossings and small waterfalls, it reaches up there where the silence is broken by the bleating of the flocks and the signal scream of the marmots.
I still remember the sweat flowing down my temples and fogging up my glasses, while the cold wind immediately dried my whole face.
All the effort of the excursion is worth it; when you arrive up there at Malga Campobon at 1932 metres, where the pines have given way to the prairie, your gaze can finally wander freely and your soul become happy.
Up to here it is a 10 km excursion on a road that continues up to Malga Monzoni at 1890 meters and then with a long loop, descending again to Val Visdende, after passing through Malga Chastellin.
Obviously all this walking made us hungry and if at noon we appeased it with a platter of speck and cheese, in the evening we refreshed ourselves at the restaurant adjacent to the area, where we did not miss the dishes of the typical cuisine.
The Casunziei, tortelli filled with potatoes and smoked bacon seasoned with porcini mushrooms that are actually very reminiscent of our mountain potato tortelli, and a steaming plate of barley soup. We finished with a good slice of Peta co i pomi, our apple pie, to conclude the dinner.
Obviously this is just a starting point among the countless itineraries in the Dolomites with a camper that can be followed. Personally, I’ve done several, but the idea of visiting a particular valley outside the classic tourist routes prompted me to tell you about Comelico.
By the way, did you know that in Padola there was a thermal facility, unfortunately closed for some time, outside the town with a convenient parking where you can park in a camper? In winter it is exploited because the cross-country route begins from there and in summer the route is used by MTBs to get to the Monte Croce Comelico pass.
See you on the next itinerary.