I LOVED the Dolomites. Not just the mountains, the Trentino-Alto Adige region. It's just so pretty. Castelrotto was such a quaint and picturesque little town. Like all of the other towns in the region, the central point of focus was the clock tower/church steeple. Funny, I assumed it was a church, but it may just be a clock tower. Next time, I'll have to look a bit more closely.
The whole Bavarian region really pulls at my heartstrings. "Bavaria" may be in Germany, but the German influence encompasses most if not all of Austria and extends far down into into Northern Italy. I really, really enjoy the Lüftlmalerei — frescoes illustrating Bavarian myths, religious scenes and fairytales — that decorate the buildings. And I love the flower boxes. The mountains. The people. The food.
But there has to be more to it. I mean, the pull is strong.
Could it be my German ancestry?
That never dawned on me before today, but a quick search this morning revealed that the surname, Reichard, my maiden name, was first found in Bavaria.
How about that? Maybe there is more to the lure of the region than I ever suspected.
|Window Boxes in Castelrotto|
I could spend days and days, months even, exploring Northern Italy and Austria. Oh, and Germany. We can't forget that.
Some people think all the wood is a bit much. Not me.
I especially love the rich color of the wood behind all of the lovely flowers.
And speaking of wood, don't you just love the way these people stack their firewood? It's done like that throughout the region.
|The Most Carefully Stacked Firewood I Have Ever Seen|
|Garage at the Hotel|
As sad as I was to leave Castelrotto, the road awaited. We had at least one more major pass to hit.
I’m not sure if this pass is really the gateway to the Dolomites, but it sure looks that way to me.
From there, we had a fabulous ride down the mountain. We went down for what felt like ever. But we must have started climbing again at some point because, before I knew it, we were at the Fedaia Pass.
A magnificent pass that I hadn't even mapped in advance. Hubby and I just used our maps and plotted a route. So we were really surprised by what we saw.
In the next image, you may notice a bit of white atop a mountain. That’s not snow. It’s the Marmolada Glacier. At 10,968 feet (3,343 m), Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites.
|Me Beneath Marmolada|
The water you see behind me is Fedaia Lake. It was quite a picturesque stop.
|Gallery aka Avalanche Protection|
|Hubby Gazing at Marmolada|
I like the name of that mountain, can you tell?
It was very, very pretty there. But it was also a bit chilly. That is a glacier, you know. And we were on top of the pass. Which meant we had to go down. And down and down and down some more.
Here are a few helmet cam shots for you.
After reaching the valley and riding for a while, it was time to climb again. It also meant another surprise was revealed...
|We Happened Upon Dolomites National Park|
It was just gorgeous. The whole region. I'm telling you, I could gladly get lost there for a long time.
After another couple of hours riding through the chilly mountains, we descended into the vineyard filled valley between Bolzano and Trento.
We filled up with gas then were again on our way.
It was actually quite warm in the valley. Luckily we weren't far from our night's destination... Riva del Garda.
I was very excited about this town, too. I chose the Hotel Sole because it sat right on the water. And it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, pizzerias, and cafes. What I did not realize is that it's smack in the middle of a pedestrian zone. Motorized vehicles are only allowed until 10:00 AM. So we had to schlepp our luggage several blocks.
But it was worth it.
Riva del Garda sits at the northern point of Lago di Garda (Garda Lake).
|Room with a View|
The nicest thing about the hotel was its location. We had a nice view from our windows. It's a shame there was no balcony. The place was crawling with people. We could have people-watched for hours!
But we didn't have a balcony, so we went to get dinner instead.
There was a restaurant in the hotel, but "restaurants" tend to be quite fancy. And quite expensive. So we tended to seek out pizzerias, which look just like restaurants, but are more casual. And they serve pizza. An extremely wide variety of pizza. Also, extremely tasty.
Pizza in Italy is not like pizza in America. It's way better. Thin crust. Fresh, high quality ingredients. Not too much sauce. Just the right amount of cheese. YUM. The downside of that is, I may never enjoy pizza in America again...
We capped the evening off with coffee for Hubby and a cappuccino for me. We shared some vanilla gelato, too.
After that, we went back to our room and collapsed.
|Riva del Garda by Night|
Yet, I had a hard time going to sleep. I couldn't help but think we'd be turning our bikes in the next day. Of course, we'd also be meeting up with our friends, but the riding had been fabulous. I hated to see it end but was anxious to see what roads we would be traversing the next day.
It was all so wonderfully overwhelming.
More to come later!