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Dolomites before winter kicks in (DTC1902)

Sunday, September 29, 2019 | Manuel Marabese | Europe / Italy

Day 1: Welcome to the Dolomites!

It's time to welcome our new friends from Canada, United States and Brazil to the Alps for a touring center among the Dolomites. For many this is the "mecca" for motorcycling, hiking, bycicling and skiing.

We will limit ourself to the first activity and from time to time a bit of moderate hiking to reach the best photo stops or a specific sight. 

Tomorrow we will start with a loop over Passo Mendola and Passo Palade.

Ready to go!

Day 2: Around wine roads and apple orchards

The weather won't play nice with us today but we don't care. A bit of rain and heavy cluods won't stop us from having fun up on the sweepers and switchbacks of Passo Mendola - the local "mountain race track" - and the s-curves of Passo Palade. 

In between we visit an incredible monastery, the Erefo of San Romedio: this sactuary consists of several chapels built on top of each other on a cliff surrounded by a steep gorge. Any description of photo can't do justice to this extraordinary architectonical wonder that carries 1000 years of history.

In the afternoon we pass through some idyllic South Tyrolean villages, such as Prissiano, where we stop by the famous Katzenzungen (literally "cat tongues") castle.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's adventure. Hint: it will be a grand ride!

The Sactuary of San Romedio is really incredible
131 steps to reach the entrance! And imagine that in the past pilgrims would walk weeks to get here.
Frescos from the middle age, conservatively restored
The sanctuary is also a bear refuge. Meet Bruno, 28 years old, happy to have his great private forest.
Lunch with a view in Le Ciaspole restaurant
So yummy this traditional plate: tortello di patate con carne salada and beans from Lamon
The imposing castle Katzenzungen. Its wine grape is 350 years old! Don't touch it, they even out some special bags around the grapes to prevent stealing
After some wet riding nothing is better than a hot sauna (sorry no indoor sauna photos allowed, be happy with the "whirlpool with a view" photo

Day 3: The Great Dolomites Road

Today it's the big day: the sun is shining and we are ready to cross the Dolomites "coast to coast", or better "side to side". After leaving Collalbo along a narrow stripe of aspahlt surrounded by green pastures and chilled cows, we enter Gardena Valley, one of the main "doors" to the realm of the Dolomites.

Not three, not four passes are on today's menu, but seven. Actually eight if we count Passo Tre Croci twice, as we ride it both ways in order to reach the Lake of Misurina.

In order we have: Passo Gardena, Passo Valparola, Passo Falzarego, Passo Tre croci, Passo Giau, Passo Fedaia and finally Passo Costalunga. What a ride!

Let's have a look at some pics, although no photo can properly express the magnitude of this mountain range.

Day 4: Cruising along Lake Garda

After so much mountain beauty from yesterday, today we head south to discover another incredible place: Lake Garda! This lake is as charming as it can get. Imagine the gentle breeze pushing the windsurfs on the glimmering water, the deep green of olive trees, tall cypresses interspersed with elegant palms and proud olive trees. Sprinkle the gardens with colorful flowers and the streets of the villages with cobble stones flanked by historical buildings. Bella Italia!

Day 5: The hidden passes of Dolomiti Bellunesi

Nine more passes are waiting for us today. This time we will go towards the Dolomiti Bellunesi, the best kept secret of the entire Dolomites area. First we enter once again the Gardena valley, climbing this time the passes on the southern side of the Sella Group: Passo Sella and then Passo Pordoi.

We enter then a remote and lesser-known area, bringing us through passes like Forcella Straulanza, Passo Duran, Forcelle Aurine and Passo Cereda: six passes and we haven't had lunch yet!

The adventure continues inside the gorgeous Val Canali in the Parco Naturale Paneveggio Pale di San Martino (yes, long name for equally long mountain peaks). After resting (and eating) we ride over Passo Rolle, Alpe di Pampeago and Passo di Lavazè. What a ride!

And you think it's finished like that? Nope... we have one more cherry on our cake: instead of riding the busy Val d'Ega we reach Bolzano through a side valley for another 30 switchbacks!

Chris found a new motorcycle!
Morning coffee on Passo Pordoi. A bit fresh up here with 6°C
On Passo Rolle, after about 15.000 curves
Polenta, sausage, mushrooms and grilled cheese. The most traditional mountain dish in Trentino.
The last panoramic stop for today, Passo di Lavazè

Day 6: Gran Finale with Val di Funes and Sass Pordoi

And even when you think you have seen them all, the Dolomites are able to surprise you. After descending into the Val d'Isarco with our morning routine through our little mono-lane road flanked by cows and pastures, we enter another marvel of South Tyrol. The Val di Funes / Villnöss is truly a sedret gem. No big ski resorts here, no towns. Just the sound of nature surrounding our ride up to Passo Erbe - the perfect morning coffee stop.

A bit later we arrive in Val Badia and then we climb Passo Pordoi once again - but from the other side. Up there we take the cable car, that in 4 minutes take us to the panoramic terrace on Sass Pordoi at 2.950 m. Lunch with a view indeed.

The afternoon goes relaxed towards our hotel in Collalbo, with a last coffee break with a commanding position over Val Gardena.

Seeing the joy and the smiles of the group is a really rewarding experience for me as tour guide. Thank you so much for giving my the possibility to show you my homeland. You are welcome anytime!

Isn't that the perfect coffee stop with the perfect company?
The view from Sass Pordoi is simply terrific
Hello from your tour guide!
Towards the peak, the short way round
Last view over Val Gardena before coming home
It's time for a well deserved boot beer!
A special farewell dinner with a traditional night.. Törggelen in South Tyrol!
See you soon for another ride...
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Add a comment Rate this post
Peter Parsons
Monday, September 30, 2019 at 07:23

I don't know how many times Gaye and I said, "OK, this is the best trip ever." Manuel, you made this ride fun, historical, and the best unintended riding school ever. We thank you for your unbelievable restaurant selections, your guidance, and patience. So many turns.
Richard Hadley
Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 16:46

An absolutely amazing tour. Our guide and historian Manuel was fantastic, as well as our great group of riders. Food, scenery, and especially the roads were excellent. Lots of photo opportunities.

We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, even the terrifying switchbacks! Thanks!
Manuel Marabese
Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 17:52

Thank you so much Richard, I have enjoyed so much seeing getting more and more comfortable with the hairpins! Next time we do the Strada della Forra over Garda Lake you can even have a look at the road!
Kevin Hamilton
Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 08:26

Thank you so much, Manuel!! This was the best way to see the Dolomites - great company, amazing tour guide, and more curves than we could have imagined. A complete package. We will be on another tour, and hope we meet you again!

And thank you for the story of Val di Funes - stories like that make friends forever.

Ciao!
Manuel Marabese
Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 17:51

Hello Kevin, pleasure is all mine! I have lots more stories to tell about these mountains, maybe next time!
Kevin F McGuire
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 07:07

This tour is great fun ! Manuel is a fantastic guide ! 2 more days of riding left to go! Great food, great views, and great people to ride with.
Manuel Marabese
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 23:04

Thank you so much Kevin, the company of the group is what makes the tour great!
Geoffrey Paraons
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 22:04

Looks like a lot of fun. Beautiful scenery. I hope the pegs get worn a little.
Have fun.
Ursula Peter
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 18:29

Hi Manu,
finally back in Italy - happy you!
Enjoy the tour
Best regards from Serbia
Ursula
Manuel Marabese
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at 22:45

Thx dear Ursula,
Take care on the Balkan Tour!

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