Sunday, October 7, 2012

Help from the Law

After a very late arrival at our friends' apartment on Monday evening, an 11:00 PM dinner (Belgian spaghetti!), several very large beers, and conversation into the wee hours of the morning, we were in no hurry to get up and out of there on Tuesday.

As far as I could tell, our next destination, Castelrotto (Kastelruth in German), was only about four or five hours away. So we had a nice, leisurely morning catching up with Annelies and Yves.

Lago d'Iseo as seen from the eastern side.

They were staying at Lake Iseo for the week while we tooled around on the bikes. When thinking of Italy, most people think of Rome, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, etc. Not the northern region. Aside from the Dolomites and Italian Alps, which are Mecca for motorcyclists, there are also many lakes and lakeside towns that draw people in. Lake Como is probably the most well-known, and may be the biggest. But there are other lakes, too. Lake Iseo is on the smaller side. But it is still gorgeous, even when shrouded in mountain mist.

I think it was around 2 or so when we said goodbye to our pals and set off for Castelrotto. Without giving you too much of a history lesson, Castelrotto is in the region of Northern Italy known as Trentino-Alto Adige. There are two provinces in the region, South Tyrol, which is the northernmost of the two, and Trentino. Both were part of Austria until World War I. About two-thirds of the population of South Tyrol speak German. Most people in Trentino speak Italian. It was Italy that decided to Italianize the region by giving all of the towns Italian names. 

Roundabout! (an easy one)
The ride from Lake Iseo to Castelrotto was relatively uneventful. It was pretty enough. And interesting. But that was mainly because we were in a different country. The even-keel day was relaxing after the dramatic scenery we had experienced the day before.

Can this road get any narrower?
We did encounter some pretty narrow roads. The one pictured here was probably the skinniest. It looks like a bicycle or golf cart path, doesn't it?

I kept hoping we didn't encounter traffic moving in the opposite direction.
Believe it or not, it's a two-way street. There were pullouts scattered along the way, but I was hopeful we didn't encounter any cars, trucks, or buses along the way. Lucky for us, we only saw a motorcycle traveling down the mountain as we climbed up.

Just as the road widens, what do we see? Dual signs warning that road narrows and be alert for cows.
Mountain cows are apparently a popular trend in Italy and Switzerland.

You'd be surprised how many cow warning signs we saw in the mountains.
Look at this lovely sight we encountered shortly after leaving that very skinny road. Yet another gorgeous lake.

Lake Idro
The rest of the ride was uneventful. Scenery-wise anyway. Although I did manage to capture shots of one of the quirky little tunnels scattered across the country.

Wanna know what makes this tunnel quirky?

It had windows!
Some parts of Italy looked quite depressing. It almost felt like we were passing through not long after WWII.

Aesthetically challenged small town.

Except for the mountains, and the signs in Italian, we could have been passing through an American town.

Entering Trentino-Alto Adige.
I was quite tickled to see the sign announcing that we were entering the Trentino-Alto Adige region. 

Although Hubby appears to be looking right at the sign, he told me later didn't notice it. He must have been looking at the motorcycle parked there. Not that he would have known what Trentino-Alto Adige means, since I am the head vacation planner.

A very American-looking scene.

A nicer view of Lake Idro.

Me posing alongside my cool red bike with Lake Idro in the background.

The ride was nice, but the scenery wasn’t very dramatic. Interesting, just not dramatic enough to make me want to stop for pictures.
Except for the valley between Trento and Bolzano, that is, which was covered in vineyards and orchards. When I say covered, I mean COVERED. I just didn't feel like stopping for pictures. And the GoPro was dead.

The valley was gorgeous, really. And we kept coming across tractors pulling wagons full of grapes. Just what one would expect to see in one of the major wine-producing countries in the world.

By that time we’d been riding for HOURS. The day was getting late. I knew we were getting close to Castelrotto, too, so I just wanted to keep pressing on and get there already!

Alas, that was not to be. We hit Bolzano during what I suspect was rush hour. Though I am not sure since it was around 7:00 PM. With Bolzano (Bozen in German) being the capital city of the province of South Tyrol, it was pretty crowded. And traffic was a mess. Lucky for us, lane splitting and traffic avoidance is a-OK for motorcyclists in Europe, so we went around all of that and let the GPS re-calculate a route to Castelrotto for us.

Although we got to enjoy some very interesting, and VERY small, roads, we were slowly losing daylight. We ended up riding across an open meadow on the side of a mountain on another one of those bike-path-type roads, which led straight to someone’s house. Yep, a driveway.

So we backtracked. And backtracked some more.

I was starting to worry as hotel check-in closed at 10:00. And we still hadn’t found Castelrotto.
Once it was full dark, Hubby decided to stop and figure things out. That’s when he realized the GPS was missing a critical piece of road map. Castelrotto was on the next mountain. Only 11 kilometers away. As the crow flies. But we couldn’t fly, so Hubby got out the computer, downloaded the correct maps, got the route figured out, and off we went.

More switchbacks in the dark. Oh joy! :-)

It was about 9:58 when we reached Castelrotto. But we couldn’t find our hotel, which was listed as the Hotel Zum Wolf.

As you can see by looking at the image above, which shows the front of our hotel, “Hotel Zum Wolf” doesn’t exactly jump out at you. Oh, and the front of the hotel is in a pedestrian-only zone, which meant we could not drive past the front of the hotel.

To make a long story short… Hubby chased down a passing Carabinieri car (national military police in Italy) and, after determining that they did speak a bit of English, asked for directions. It was about 20 past 10 by then. The policemen were tickled to learn that we were Americans riding BMWs (not Harleys), and they offered to lead us to our hotel. If we could wait a couple of minutes.

We didn’t have far to go. Of course, the hotel registration area was locked down by the time we arrived. I simply rang a buzzer and the proprietor, who could not have been more helpful, came down to let me in. I started rambling about why we were so late. She interrupted me to ask, very seriously, “Did the police bring you here?” What a hoot!

She felt sorry for us and upgraded us at no charge to a suite. She even helped us carry our stuff to the room. And told us about a great pizzeria that would be open until 11.
She only forgot to tell us one important thing…

In Italy, if you want your pizza sliced, you have to make a special request. 

For real. 

Our suite wasn't equipped with cutlery. Not even the plastic stuff. But we were hungry, so we made do.

And you know what? It was delicious.

Shortly after that, we collapsed into bed. That was the end of Day 2.


bobskoot said...


you must have been stressed, in the dark and also lost . . .

but, you finally made it and all was well. Love that pizza shot, did you manage to devour it all by yourself ?

Riding the Wet Coast
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Kathy Kirkpatrick said...

Oddly enough, I wasn't stressed. It was fun. All part of the adventure! No, I didn't eat the whole pizza, but I came pretty close. We each had one because the lady at the pizzeria said they were small, only big enough for one.

Trobairitz said...

Thank you for sharing all of the beautiful pictures. I still love the one of you and that pizza the best.

Nice of the police to escort you to the hotel. Good for public relations.