"Choosing the "high road" is to discover our continent through the territories that man has damaged the least. These regions are among the wildest in Europe and perhaps those where lifestyles change the slowest.
Crossing the Alps is probably one of the most difficult things we have done, physically and mentally. We arrived at the foot of the Alps after already 6 months of walking. A good training yes, but in fact, nothing could prepare us for what was to come: an average of more than 1000m of positive elevation gain per day over such a long period.
During almost 3 months of crossing Northern Italy, we crossed six regions, climbed 69500 meters of positive altitude difference, slept 30% of the time in local houses and ate more blueberries than pizzas.
The largest protected natural area in Piedmont is a favorite section of the Italian Alps. Close to the French border, the Maritime Alps Park is, in our experience, one of the rawest and most wildlife-rich places in the Alps. Everywhere ibex, chamois, marmots, sharp peaks and high lakes...
The Italian Alps are full of unguarded huts, the bivacchi. They were created to secure the ascents of the first mountaineers and new ones are still being built today. The bivacco Punta Venezia is perhaps our best memory of a hut in the Alps. First of all because its presence saved us from a storm, but also because of its tiny size and its location at 3000 m altitude.
Before leaving, neither of us had done any mountaineering. However, when we passed by the foot of the Grand Paradis, we could not resist the call of its summit. Here we are on our way to our first 4000m. After a lot of documentation, especially with guides, we try the ascent without a guide. We are not the only ones this day. It's a bit boring to be stuck between the guy in front and the guy behind, but the game is worth it. Little by little, the landscape is transformed and we arrive in a completely unknown bichromatic universe.
First news: in Italy, we speak German! In the Trentino-Alto Adige region, after being greeted several times with a "hallo", we realized that something was missing. For centuries, the situation of this region has been complex, changing sides according to the conflicts. Until the First World War, it belonged to Austria, which finally ceded it to Italy in exchange for its commitment to the Allies. Today it belongs to Italy, but German is one of its two official languages.
Although it is written in black and white on our maps, we did not anticipate the grandeur of this region of the Alps. The Tre Cime of Lavaredo are incredible of course, these giants rising from the earth surrounded by formidable scree, would leave anyone speechless, but all the massifs that make up the 16,000 square kilometers of the Dolomites are out of this world.
"Before tackling this section, we doubt our choice of route. We imagine this chapter to be more interior, more personal, more punctuated by the effort to be made than by the depth of our encounters. The months to come will prove us wrong, because here too the encounter with the Other has its place".
In our crossing of Italy, there were few pizzas, no gondolas, no leaning towers or laundry drying in the windows. No disappointment to be had though, crossing the Alps is one of the most memorable experiences of our lives to date. From the French border to the Slovenian border, we discovered the Italian Alps from the beginning of summer to the first snow of winter, seeing the seasons pass and the colors change. From very green and wildlife rich sections to almost 100% mineral worlds, our itinerary in Italy took us through all the diversity that the mountains can offer.