A Lovely Point Among The Dolomites: San Martino DI Castrozza.
On The Way To The "Drei Z1nnen," Near The Ampezzo Valley.
But where is Toblach? some may ask. For though American tourists, as a rule, know every nook of Switzerland, and even many parts of the Tyrol, still Toblach and the Dolomites have thus far been explored by few of them, and hence the situation of the town may not be clear without a word of explanation. About midway between the city of Botzen and the summit of the Brenner Pass, the wild and narrow canon of the Eisack meets a broader valley coming to it from the east, their point of union being known as Franzensfeste. This junction of two valleys and two streams is guarded, as its name denotes, by two prodigious fortresses, whose scores of grated openings, masking carefully trained guns, command the approach from Italy for a great distance, and would apparently make the passage of a hostile force impossible. The valley stretching like a right arm from the Brenner is the Piaster Thal, and has for centuries been the great Tyrolean highway toward Vienna. Extending, as it does, almost directly east and west, the morning and evening lights are specially favorable for its embellishment; and one or two afternoon journeys through its charmingly romantic scenery, made glorious by the eastward-streaming beams of waning day, form some of my most precious memories of Tyrolese travel; so wonderfully does the evening glow enhance the beauty of its numerous castles, picturesque hamlets, and occasional snow-capped mountains, visible at the ends of tempting lateral ravines, a river meantime winding round the railway like an undulating avenue of polished jade. South of this stately valley stand the famous Dolomites, whose ghostly fingers, sparkling with glacier jewels, rise now and then above the lesser mountains in the foreground, beckon mysteriously to us for a moment, and then disappear. These brief and tantalizing visions of their summits only whet our curiosity and eagerness to explore them; and hence it is with mingled pleasure and excitement that we leave the train, about two hours from Franzensfeste, and find ourselves in Toblach, - the gateway to the world-renowned Ampezzo Thal. Here railway travel ends for those who would explore the Dolomites; for these exclusive peaks have not as yet allowed the railroad to come nearer to them than their portals. The favorite deity of the present generation, Speed, has not a single shrine within the solemn circle outlined by their flaming walls; and through the noble corridors of their inner fastnesses the tourist must either drive or walk.
A Bit Of The "Strada Regia" Near Landro.
Niederdorf In The Puster Thal.
It is a delightful experience to sit in a comfortable, two-horse victoria at the door of the Hotel Toblach, while the driver gathers up the reins preparatory to starting either for Cortina or for the charming intermediate halting-places - Schluder-bach and Landro. One knows that he is on the threshold of a realm of mystery as well as beauty, which, notwithstanding all that he has seen, will, he is sure, surprise as much as it will fascinate him. In entering thus the country of the Dolomites, I felt as if I had taken my seat in a theatre to behold a play, of which I had already heard so much that I was now impatient to observe and judge of it for myself. Hence, as our carriage left the hotel grounds and swung directly southward into the Ampezzo road, I had the same sensation that comes to me at the opening of an opera, when the first notes of the orchestra are sounding, and the drop curtain begins to rise. In this case, the first vista of the Dolo-mitic stage revealed the entrance to the Ampezzo valley - a narrow doorway framed by two gigantic mountains. Between these, in the distance, like a glittering magnet drawing us irresistibly to the region which it well exemplifies, towered the splendid mass of Monte Cristallo, its corrugated sides and turrets glistening, here with brilliant colors, there with ice and snow. A pretty lakelet, called the Dürren See, repeated in its depths these glories of the upper world, as if to make sure that no traveler should miss them: - much as the mirror in the Roman Rospigliosi Palace is placed upon a table under Guido's famous ceiling painting of Aurora, so that those whose necks are wearied with the effort of surveying something far above them may study at their ease its replica below.