It started with an old black-and-white postcard.
In a used bookstore in Texas I found a trove of old travel postcards, all of them 60 or 70 years old.
The one that caught my eye showed a mountain lake surrounded by majestic peaks, with a towering mass of rock in the background.
The place name said Lago di Misurina.
With the mental note “Must go there someday,” I bought the card and took it home.
After investigating, I found that the lake was in Italy, not in the French Alps as I’d thought. So when I attended a conference in Milan years later, I rented a car and drove to Misurina.
That trip took me northeast through Trento and Bolzano, along a road near the Austrian border, and then south to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
I was in the land of the Dolomites, one of the world’s most picturesque mountain areas. The mountains’ stark beauty, combined with a charming Alpine setting, really isn’t like anything else, anywhere.
After a half-day visiting and hiking around Lago di Misurina, I took a photo from the exact perspective of the postcard, toward the Grand Hotel Misurina and the Sorapiss peaks.
The Dolomites are advertised as one of the most scenic, stunning and beautiful mountain settings on the planet, so you could describe them this way:
Exactly as advertised.