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night. Our drive to-day was over the Brenner Pass. I think this is the loveliest ride we have had. But then, I think that of them all, for the mountain scenery is simply grand. We could have seen glaciers had not they and the mountains been covered by mist. Notwithstanding this, our drive was beautiful. We stopped at Sterzing, Stoetter's Hotel, for luncheon, and it was a nice one. This little town is picturesque with its arcades, wrought iron balconies and signs, on houses that line its principal streets.
In the afternoon we passed through many quaint old towns with narrow streets, frescoed houses and gateways with clock towers.
We saw numbers of beautiful waterfalls and several fine old castles. One was especially attractive, being situated on the top of a high craggy mountain. It is now used as a monastery. We arrived in Botzen at 4 P. M., stopping at Hotel Victoria.
After locating, we drove all over the city in our car. It is beautiful, quaint and well worth seeing. There are many arcades and a fine old parish church. We saw the statue of Walther von der Vogelweide.
Sunday, September it, we left about 9:30 A. M. This was a little later than we expected, and, besides, it was raining and not at all promising for the long ride before us. We were told the roads were level. There was a little rise on first leaving Botzen, but after that the roads were smooth and level. We went up over San Lugano Pass, which is rather steep in places, but our little car went right up without mishap of any kind. We found the roads heavy from the recent rains, and there were two ways to make this, one that is level but long; the other much shorter, with a climb. The latter we took, and Gaston was pleased with the manner in which we made it. He is always pleased when his car does good work. I think, though, had we known how steep it was we would have chosen the longer road. We found the road very good after leaving San Lugano, and supposed we were through climbing, as we had only been told of this one climb. In a short time, however, we found ourselves again climbing, climbing, steadily in a way that seemed to have no end. This road wound round and round the mountain, clear up to the summit of Rolle Pass, far up above the clouds and nearly on a level with the highest peaks around us. These are the Dolomite Mountains. Some of their peaks are covered with ice and snow and some of them were tinged a rose red. The scenery was constantly changing, like a panorama, from one valley and village to another, but steadily climbing. Some of the mountains were dark with fir and pine trees and were moss-covered, like the trees in the southern states of our own country, where the Spanish moss hangs heavily from them. Houses dot the sides of the mountains high up.
It was all so silent and grandly beautiful that words were inadequate to express my awe.
We hoped to reach our luncheon place by noon, but it was after 2:30 P. M., after commencing the descent, that we discovered San Martins di Castrozza. We were not long in reaching there and Hotel Des Dolomites, where we stopped for luncheon. We started immediately after finishing, as we had yet the longest part of our ride before us.
We crossed the Italian frontier in the late afternoon and were not far from Mestre, where we expected to remain over night, when a tire burst. This was probably caused from the numerous large stones we were constantly driving over, as they were repairing the roads. We found this was the case all through Italy. (On one mountain where they were working on the road, the cliff jutted out and our road went right over it. I think we all felt uneasy about its safety, and breathed more freely after we had passed over it. The road was quite narrow, also, and we were most fortunate in not meeting a vehicle.) Gaston is always so good-natured, taking little accidents of this kind as a matter of course and going placidly to work to make the necessary repairs, so he soon had a new tire in place and we started on after lighting our lamps.
Instead of being close to Mestre, as we supposed, we drove miles and miles before we saw a village, and it was dark by this time and 10:30 P. M. So, while this was not Mestre, but a village a few miles this side, we decided to stop for the night.
As we were about to drive through the gateway, two police stepped up to the car on either side and commenced talking to us in Italian. Of course, we could not understand them, or they us, as they could neither speak nor understand French or English. They would not permit us to enter the town, and it was quite a little while before we understood what was the trouble. It seems our back light had gone out. Gaston knew it, for it was not working well, but he made believe he did not. They asked my name, but Gaston would not give it. He said to Gusty afterward, “It was none of their business.” After a long parley, Gaston gave them the car papers, which they asked for, as they wanted to file a complaint against the garage. They wanted to file it against me, and when they could not get my name they got the firm name of the garage from the car papers. They then permitted us to drive in.
(I may yet have that fine to pay when I return to Paris.)
We were looking for a hotel, and on making inquiries, as we were able to catch occasional words, we found we were only fifteen miles from the village of Mestre, where Gaston and the car would remain, while we were in Venice, so we decided to drive on there, fearing if we remained here we might see the police again in the morning. Our rooms had been engaged in Venice, so we would be all right when we reached there, even if it was very late.
We passed through a number of little villages, most of them dark, but it was warm and people were sitting out and walking along the roads nearly all the way. In one village they were dancing. Finally we reached Mestre, and, driving to the station, we got out and took the train for Venice, leaving Gaston to find a garage and quarters for himself. It is only a short distance across to Venice and we arrived very quickly.