Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dolomite Drive – 18 July 2010

After a torrential storm in the night, we were pleasantly surprised to find the sun shining brightly in the morning. We set out on our Dolomites exploration using some information we had gleaned from the Internet where there was mention of a Grande Strada delle Dolomiti so, given a start and end point and a couple of hints along the way, we set off. Clearly the route can be tackled in either direction but, as we had come far enough south the previous day, it made sense to head for Belluno and then onto Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Their Roman forebears taught the Italians to build straight roads and the modern Italians have perfected this technique when it comes to mountain areas by drilling tunnels straight through the mountains, often for considerable distances. While this makes getting to one's destination much quicker, the vistas within the tunnels are distinctly, if you will pardon the pun, boring. Our aim was, thus, to avoid tunnels wherever possible and find the forgotten “back” roads to combine two pleasures: the views and the driving.

Cortina d'Ampezzo was worth a stop and stroll around, then we were off to the Pordoi Passo. This has great views from the top, but the temptation to stop too long was not appealing because of the cold temperature and the risk of the tedious slow drivers getting in front again. At the bottom of the pass, we headed for the Passa Sella This is not so dramatic, but still great mountain terrain. The close-up views of the Dolomites on both passes, were every bit as good a we had expected. Once at the bottom we decided to take a back route to Bolzano (our expected destination), but discovered Castlerotto over another small pass, and just past this small town, was a campsite sign, the first we had seen for a very long time. This seemed a good time to stop for the night, and leave Bolzano for tomorrow. We were very glad we did, as the facilities at Camping Alpe Di Siusi would have to rate as 5 star plus, in the camping world. The facilities block is underground (no danger of an unasthetically pleasing camp ablution block design marring the landscape), with a circular stairway descending to a central foyer with large fountain. Soap and toilet paper supplied (basic one would think, but not normal in Europe), deluxe toilets and showers (no token purchase necessary here!), beautifully tiled throughout, separate children's facilities, and in the women's wing, a 'marble' lined beauty room surrounded by mirrors and hair-dryers, with a water feature in the centre! Sheer camping heaven.

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