Last summer we took a trip to Italy. It had been 8 years since our last trip, and like many of you our travel plans were derailed by Covid between 2020- 2022. It felt so freeing and fun to look at the map of the boot, and choose some new places to visit! Because my son and his friend were coming, and they’re both into rock climbing and the outdoors, it was a must that we explored Arco. Arco is nestled at the bottom of the Dolomites outside of Lake Garda and in the region of Trentino Alto-Adige. As a quaint little town and outdoor enthusiast’s playground, it seemed like the perfect place to kick off our journey. My two kids, my son’s best friend, and I took a train from Milan to Bergamo. In Bergamo, we rented a car, because there is no train station in Arco. It took about two hours, and although I was a little nervous to drive for the first time in Italy, I found that freeway driving wasn’t so bad (as long as I didn’t linger in the passing lane).
We arrived in Arco immediately following light summer rainfall. The sun was peeking through the clouds of the fresh mountain air as we walked to our air bnb. Our vibrant and extremely kind host met us and gave us a ton of information about the Via Ferrata trails which are one of the main attractions for mountaineers. The Via Ferrata consists of a steel cable bolted into precipitous rock faces. Mountaineers outfit themselves with a harness and two carabiners and clip into the cable, in order to secure themselves as they scale the steep cliffs. Our host lent us one harness and gave us his friend’s name who owned a sporting goods store, where we could procure the rest.
The next day we began our walk to the trailhead and realized it was a lot hotter than it had been the day before. We also realized that we forgot water.. Our host had told us that the expedition was really easy and would take around an hour. It took us almost an hour to even find the trailhead so my daughter started to doubt his downplay of the level of difficulty. When we began the ascent, the two 20-year-old adventurers took the lead ahead of my daughter and me. I couldn’t help laughing as I noticed their flip-flops. Everyone around us was outfitted in appropriate hiking gear and the boys looked like they should be hanging out at the beach. My son says because he wears his flip-flops daily, they’ve formed to his feet and are more stable than any other shoe he could wear. I continued to laugh as each group of people passed us, looked at their feet, pointed, and said something disparaging. Apparently “flip flop” is a universal word, because people were speaking German, Italian, and French and clearly were commenting on the boys’ shoes. After about 1.5 hours, we made it to the top of the rock mountain and had an epic view of the valley below. Although the trail was designated for beginners, my daughter and I found the heights a little daunting. We had noticed some young German kids on the trail and had commented that they were incredibly strong and fearless! At the peak, we didn’t linger too long, because we were totally dehydrated and needed water. As we made our way back to the village, we stopped at each fountain that we passed and took long luxurious sips.