Italy's Museum in the Clouds

by Rebecca Skavdal
Stripes Europe

I caught my first glimpse of the Messner Mountain Museum online. Instagram, I think. A photo of a gleaming, blue-green, geometrical glass structure surrounded by snowcapped peaks that cut right through the rest of the visual clutter. I tapped it and peered closer…15 minutes of online investigation later I was planning a day trip to the “Museum in the Clouds"

Photo by: Rebecca Skavdal

The museum is one of a series of six that live in spectacular alpine locations throughout South Tyrol, Italy’s northernmost province. The brainchild of an extreme Italian mountain climber named Reinhold Messner, each museum is dedicated to a different aspect of mountaineering or the craggy landforms themselves.

The museum in Bruneck can be found in a 13th-century castle, and another was designed by world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The one pictured here - the “MMM Dolomites” - is housed in a refurbished military fort from 1912 that withstood multiple bombings during World War I. Those striking glass pyramids? They used to be huge, rotating gun turrets.

Photo by: Rebecca Skavdal

Located at the top of Monte Rite, the MMM Dolomites is 20 miles south of Cortina d’Ampezzo and about 1.5 hours from Aviano.

To make it to the fort itself you have two options: hike the final seven kilometers uphill, or take a mildly-nauseating eight-Euro shuttle ride. In addition to the main attraction, once you reach the summit you’ll find numerous hiking trails, picnic tables and a great rifugio with a panoramic porch that serves simple alpine fare.

Photos by: Rebecca Skavdal

The museum is only open from June through September, and since it's at a higher altitude it rains a lot. So keep an eye on the weather, plan your visit during the summer and prepare to be swept off your feet by one of man and Mother Nature’s coolest endeavors.

When I first saw photos of these fantastic structures in such unreal locations, I couldn’t imagine who would be bold, ambitions and/or crazy enough to tackle such a feat. After a visit to one, I’m glad someone did. 

For more information visit their official website. 

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