Monday, October 15, 2012

The Dolomites

Some folks have asked what made us choose Italy as a motorcycling destination. After all, most people that go to Italy for a summer vacation go to see places like Rome, Florence, and Tuscany.

My answer? The Dolomites.

That doesn't really help much since most people have never even heard of the Dolomites. I hadn't either until our last trip to Europe where we did an Edelweiss tour. We asked our guide what tour we should do next, and he recommended the Dolomites.

After a bit of research, I learned that the Dolomites, in Northeastern Italy, are part of the Alps. Once I saw an image or two, I was sold.

So, as glorious as our brief ride into Switzerland was on Day 1, I was REALLY looking forward to seeing the Dolomites.

We arrived in Castelrotto very late Tuesday night, well after dark, so didn't get to see much.

So imagine my delight when I peeked out of the window early Wednesday morning and saw this...

The Dolomites as Seen from Hotel Zum Wolf in Castelrotto
I am pretty sure I gasped out loud.

The next shot gives a bit wider and lighter view.

It was really early. Hubby was still sleeping, but I was ready to roll!

Bell Tower behind Hotel Zum Wolf in Castelrotto

As anxious as I was, we were in no hurry. So we took our time, enjoyed a nice breakfast in our delightful hotel, and then got ready to go.

I ran downstairs and snapped the previous shot and next shot before we left.

Window Boxes
I absolutely love the flower boxes and painted details that you see on the buildings in this region. Click on the image above and you'll see that what appears to be bricks on the corner of the building at the center of the shot is not actual bricks, but painted bricks.

I could have wandered around the town for awhile, but really was itching to hit the passes. As you see the images that follow, you'll understand why...

The Dolomites

ToadMama in the Dolomites
The scenery was breathtaking. We HAD to stop so I could absorb it all and get the GoPro mounted.

These pics were all taken with my digital SLR camera. It's going to take a while still for me to finish sorting through those helmet cam pics.

Short, Curved Tunnel

It's a shame the day was a bit overcast. This was actually taken in the morning, so the mountain mist hadn't burned off.

Giau Pass
I don't understand why, but many of the pass signs are covered in stickers like this.

Sheep Dotting the Hillside at Giau Pass
Had the sky been clear, the view would have been amazing. It was still pretty impressive, but a blue-sky backdrop would have been gorgeous to behold.

Giau Pass

Hubby at Giau Pass

Looking Back at Giau Pass
We actually crossed several passes that day...

ToadMama at Falzarego Pass

Here I am at Falzarego Pass. As you can see, the skies were still overcast. But the roads were dry and FUN! That's what we were there for anyway.

The blue sky did peek through occasionally. The mountains were really something to behold.

I found a frog!


Even though it's overcast, you can see how pretty it was, right?

Neither of us were complaining, that's for sure.

Happy Hubby at Falzarego Pass

We rode for several more hours after that prolonged rest break. We went through Valparola Pass (I have a video of that to share eventually) and Gardena Pass on our way back to Castelrotto. But first, we made a stop in Ortisei (St. Ulrich in German).

We didn't linger long in Ortisei (pronounced like ort-see) as it was starting to look like rain. And we were both ready for dinner. We figured if we hurried, we could beat the rain and have dinner in Castelrotto.

Ortisei / St. Ulrich

More of that Austrian flair that I love.

Close-up of the building mural.

Ortisei / St. Ulrich

Ortisei / St. Ulrich

Ortisei / St. Ulrich

Ortisei / St. Ulrich

Unfortunately, we didn't beat the rain. Since we were only about 10 minutes from Castelrotto, we didn't bother with rain gear. We got a little wet, but it wasn't too bad.

For dinner, we went back to the pizzeria. We settled on that place because the pizza was good and it had a nice casual atmosphere. This time, we decided to eat there. It was pretty busy, but they seated us right away at a table for four. Shortly after we were seated, the waitress showed up with another couple and said, "Do you mind if they sit here with you?"

What were we going to say? No?

So we had dinner with a nice German couple. They were vacationing in the area, too, but not on motorcycles. The woman spoke English pretty well. Turns out, she and a few female friends get together once a month with a tutor to practice English. We told her it worked, we could understand her perfectly.

My shy Hubby would have been mortified had that happened in the US. Only because he's a bit bashful. But it was all part of the adventure. Once we did get to talking, we had lots to chat about.

We didn't eat pizza, but the food was delicious. I had Spinach Gnochetti (pasta that looks like tiny gnocchi) in a cream sauce and Hubby had a meat and cheese-stuffed tortellini in a different cream sauce. Both were very good, but Hubby's was better.

I had some nice red wine, too. One of the things I remembered from the tour books is that house wines in Italy are pretty darn tasty. How could they not be? Even though I am not a wine connoisseur, I know enough to say the wine tasted good.

In fact, I drank a lot of wine during our time in Italy and Switzerland, and I think there was only one I didn't like. It wasn't horrible, it was just weird. It was a red wine that was served cold. And it was a tad fizzy, too.

And that was the end of Day 3 of our motorcycle adventure.

I'll try to get that video edited soon. It's one thing to see the curvy roads, but I think y'all will really enjoy the ride along.

What do you think of the Dolomites? Ready to book a trip yet?


Bob Leong said...


those roads are awesome ! being the only one who rides I will never get the opportunity to go there by myself, and if I do it would be in a car. You are lucky to have a riding partner. I can only look at your photos and upcoming video and imagine . . .

your vacations are always so memorable and thanks for letting us be there with you

Riding the Wet Coast
My YouTube

Trobairitz said...

So many pretty views, how did you contain yourself?

I love that photo of the Dolomites with the purple flowers in the foreground. Postcard perfect!!

Kathy Kirkpatrick said...

Bob, I am glad you are enjoying the ride along. You could always ride through there with Mrs. Skoot as a passenger. Even if just a few days on two wheels, it would be a memorable vacation for both of you.

Kathy Kirkpatrick said...

Thanks, B. How did I contain myself from taking more photos? I was having too much fun riding. :-)

bob skoot said...


Mrs Skoot has a hip problem which prevents her from sitting in the pillion position and I don't have experience riding with a passenger. It just doesn't make sense to hire a bike, then hire a car for her to follow behind so unfortunately it would never happen.

by looking at your photos I can see what I am missing, so thank you for posting them

Riding the Wet Coast
My YouTube

SonjaM said...

WOW! I have been there a few times but still, the scenery never ceases to impress. You are a lucky bunch.

Fuzzy said...

So incredibly beautiful.

While you're standing there trying to take it all in, don't you sometimes feel afraid that it's so fleeting, that your mind will never be able to hold on to what you're seeing? The magnitude is so tremendous. Thank goodness for photos & video.

While you were at the Falzarego pass, did you happen to notice that teeny-tiny cable car that goes up into the clouds to the peak? Crazy people...

Thanks for sharing these pictures and your stories. Keep 'em comin' :)