We retrace Amelia Edwards’s pioneering journey through the Dolomites in 1872 which she chronicled in Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys, a best-selling work of genius Victorian travel writing. Over the course of our research we find many changes, as expected. Our story is about those things which haven’t changed; something we call the Spirits of the Dolomites.
The Spirits of the Dolomites have two dimensions: mountain spirits and human spirits. Mountain spirits affect our emotions when we walk or climb through rugged landscapes. Human spirits also affect our feelings, they are impressions that people create when we meet them and they fashion thoughts and memories that linger in our minds.
Amelia wrote delightful descriptions that convey how the mountains uplifted her feelings. We find that the same landscapes have similar effects on our emotions. Amelia’s affectionate pen-portraits and witty accounts of conversations with the wide assortment of people she met give us insights into the vestiges of her thoughts. Amelia describes the people she chanced upon as: kind, helpful, humble, compassionate, caring, honest, welcoming and full of grace. Throughout our travels in the Dolomites over 40 years, especially during our research, we discovered that the same human spirits have passed through generations to the people who live in the Dolomites today.
With due diligence, we discovered Amelia’s original, watercolour sketches from her journey which were misplaced and ignored until now. We digitally restored the original vibrancy of the colours, to create rare and unpublished coloured images of the Dolomites, as they were accurately drawn and painted in 1872. We compare them with recent photographs taken from the same locations.
The main part of the book is in narrative style
following Amelia’s journey then adding incidents from our own peregrination,
including conversations with direct descendants of people that Amelia wrote
about. It forms a unique journal that provides up-to-date information for the
contemporary traveller along the route, combined with historical references
linked to a splendid human heritage for those who still live there.
Visit our Store to buy Spirits of the Dolomites by Alan Boyle and Susan Boyle (available in 2018)
and/or Untrodden Peaks & Unfrequented Valleys by Amelia B. Edwards (available now)
Improvements in transport and accommodation make our journey following Amelia’s trail luxurious compared with our predecessors but what we gain in comfort we lose in adventure. To commemorate her journey, and provide an experience much closer to Amelia’s, we have charted a new Alta Via that follows her itinerary, but at a higher altitude, on high-level footpaths through the peaks that Amelia described so passionately from mountain passes and the valleys below. Because Amelia travelled so extensively for several weeks, Alta Via Amelia is a 30-day trek over 400km long and involves more than 30,000m of ascent and descent. By using the network of well-signed footpaths, it touches all the main mountain groups in the Dolomites, following the same sequence as Amelia. It was inaugurated in 2016 and we have written a separate trekking guidebook called Alta Via Amelia in collaboration with members of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI).
Following this trail and staying at rifugi along the way, in some places treading on Amelia’s footprints, we take on a greater physical challenge, encounter a simpler way of life and feel much closer to her experience. By doing so, we develop more profound relationships with nature and our surroundings – the mountain spirits of the Dolomites. Our book reveals that the Spirits of the Dolomites Amelia encountered still exist and may be appreciated today by fellow travellers, and kindred spirits.
A complete guidebook to Alta Via Amelia will be published in 2018.Visit the website for more information on Alta Via Amelia
This is an exciting board game based on a journey through the Dolomites, staying at Rifugi on the way.
Check out the website for more information.
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