Our 2nd day in Ortisei, we planned to take the cable car up to Seceda Ridgeline, do some hiking, and then visit Val Di Funes’ famous postcard-perfect churches. Before the hike, we need to load up with calories, breakfast was actually decent in the hotel. I love the freshly baked croissants and pastries!
Different flavors of yogurts and even a local honeycomb.
Super healthy make-your-own juice/smoothie anyone? Look at those giant pieces of ginger!
Cold cuts and fruits…
They also had the usual hot items like scrambled eggs. After breakfast, we walked to the Seceda Cable Car station which is different than the one to Alpe Di Siusi. It’s further tucked in, not in the town center. It took 15 minutes of walking to get there, the view from the station:
The roundtrip ticket cost was €37 per person and the ride was split into two parts. The first part was the gondola like this:
Two benches facing each other:
The view going up of people’s massive backyard:
Then, there’s a mid-station where we got off and switch to a much bigger cable car that can fit a lot more people; it was packed! The cable car looked like this, it goes much steeper to get up to Seceda Ridgeline.
We got out of the station and the hike to reach the viewpoints is obvious….take a left and all the way up this hill:
You can already see the ridgeline on the walk up the hill:
Looking back at the station and the mountain range behind…I think that is the mountain range we see from Alpe Di Siusi the day before! There are lots of ski lifts here but since it’s summer, they are not operating. I could imagine how busy this gets during ski season!
On the top of the hill, there are two roads, turning right will get you to this. This is the postcard view of Seceda Ridgeline!
However, it is fenced off! I think the Instagram photos are taken from that area without grass but now fenced off for safety reason.
You can go down this steep hill and join the hiking trail. It didn’t look that picturesque so we decided not to hike down. Instead, we went back to where the road split and check out the other road. This viewing platform marked the mountain range surrounding the area.
Continued on to the road where it got narrower and narrower, watch your steps!!!
We got to this viewpoint, although lower angle, I can get better photos without the fence.
A little bit more down for the grass area where a few people were there taking naps LOL
After the photos, we hiked back up and by this time, the sky was a lot clearer!
Lots of chrysanthemums:
We didn’t feel the need to hike further so we took the cable car down and it was lunchtime. We walked back to the center of town to the seafood restaurant but it was closed.
We ended up having lunch at Terrazza Restaurant at their balcony with the view of the church:
Food here is pretty basic and lots of construction workers having lunch here. I ordered the shrimp spaghetti and it was bland.
Jason ordered a steak covered in sauce, it tasted much better. The lunch was €43.
After lunch, we walked back to the hotel, get our car, and off we drove to Val di Funes – Santa Maddalena. There are two famous churches in this area – Chiesa di Santa Maddalena and Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui. You can’t drive to Chiesa di Santa Maddalena, the road is restricted so you need to park in town and hike. We parked at “Parkplatz Bergerplatz”, a very small parking lot, pay at the machine and only €4 for the whole day. We did see the local police constantly driving by to check on the parking so don’t forget to pay!
From the parking lot, we followed Google Maps’ walking directions to the church passing by fields of wildflowers. There were signs warning tourists not to step on the wildflowers! You can see some are roped off too!
The view was nice but with no shade, so it can get really hot!!! Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and bring plenty of water! Unlike other hikes in the Dolomites, there’s no mountain hut along the way as it’s a residential area.
We finally see the church at the end of the path:
The mountain range on the back looked awesome but the view wasn’t that great from the church’s viewpoint:
The church and the graveyard:
If you are short on time, skip the hike to the church! Instead, hike directly up the hill for the best views, it’s marked in Google as “Panorama di Santa Magdalena”.
The zig-zagging road up the hill, the views get better and better! Now this is the postcard-perfect view with the church and the mountain range!
This view was made famous by Instagram so I thought there’ll be loads of tourists but no!!! Surprisingly, we were the only ones there!!! We set up our tripod and took photos along the road, it was so peaceful and picturesque. We took our time to take pictures, I will never get tired of this view!
I just don’t want to leave but it was hot! Next, we drove to the parking lot closest to Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui, parking lots here were full so we had to turn back and try again. The 2nd time around, we got a spot, the same parking ticket from town is valid here. From the parking lot, it was a short walk to the viewpoint. Chiesetta di San Giovanni in Ranui, the cute looking church right in the middle:
Here’s the reality…the church is actually fenced off!!! You can pay to visit the church and also can book the church for weddings, although it looked quite small so not sure how many people it can fit. They built a wooden platform where you can see and take photos of the church in a distance, that is why there’s no one on the grass in all those photos you see online 😉
We took a few photos and headed back. The drive back to Ortisei was around 45 minutes, passing by villages like this.
We got back to the hotel and spent some time wandering around the hotel, it has beautiful grounds:
A cute playground, see Dolomites is very kid-friendly!
In addition to breakfast and lunch, the hotel also provides cakes and fruit in the late afternoon. Watermelon was perfect after hiking under the sun! We finished half the tray but sadly they didn’t refill it 🙁
Back to our room, I realized I haven’t taken the room photos yet…opps! The room size was okay, the bed wasn’t as comfortable and the lights were dark.
There’s no AC but it’s okay as the nights are quite cold!
The closet is next to the bathroom. One thing that I like is the location of this hotel, there’s a coin laundry across the street so it’s convenient to do our laundry; we don’t need to pack that much stuff (especially the outrageous fee that the airlines charge nowadays for checked bag!).
The shower stall was small that you can hardly turn without bumping to the wall.
Other than that, the bathroom is decent-sized.
We have a balcony in our room with a view of the street…
Dinner time…the menu of the day:
Tonight’s appetizer was better…3 shrimp that actually tasted yummy. Can I have more please?
Only 3 raviolis…..
Jason ordered the lasagne:
Here we go again, my main course of the 3 smallest ever chicken legs. I take that those are free-range chickens!
Jason’s veal, at least he got 3 pieces instead of 2!
Time to fill up with dessert!!!
The food at the hotel wasn’t bad but just very small portions, thankfully, they have the salad and dessert buffet to compensate for that. I think it’s a good value for half-board for two nights as food in the Dolomites is expensive. Two nights in Ortisei is just enough time to visit Alpe Di Siusi and Seceda. If we have more time, we would visit the nearby towns, they look pretty from the drive.
I can’t believe that I waited so long to visit the Dolomites! In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe. The road trip is better than Tuscany. The views are spectacular, not overrun by tourists as I thought, I would love to bring my kids when they are old enough to do some hikes. I will be back Dolomites!