Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dolomites part 1

Triumph Motorcars once made a car called the Dolomite. Not a bad looking car at the time but the real Dolomites are much better and riding through them I wondered why there hasn't been a motorcycle named after them? This country is after all made for motorcycles. The Ducati Dolomiti or even Moto Guzzi Dolomiti, sounds so much better than Ducati 1198 or Moto Guzzi Le Mans. Mike had always wanted to go to Italy. He had seen the typical villages in the movies and loved it. 

Of course Italy could never live up to Mike's high expectations… or could it? As we entered Italy at the Dolomites, we were treated to unbelievable beauty, or as Mike put it 'I wanted to go to Italy, but didn't know it was this beautiful'. The Dolomiti are seen as secondary to Switzerland by most but, after riding through them like we did, we disagree! The Dolomites are situated in northeastern Italy and rise to their highest point at Marmolada, which is 3,343 mtr. The sharpness of the peaks is quite striking, as is the Austrian feel the area has. Although officially part of Italy, German is the common language here, like in Austria. The buildings and villages are clearly more Austrian than Italian as well. Yet at the same time it's different to Austria too… but also not Italian, it's unique. The Dolomites surprised us. We had no idea they were this beautiful! In an area of roughly 16,000 km2 there are some 50-odd mountain peaks, quite a few of which are in the 3,000 mtr plus region! The number of mountain passes you can ride is almost endless.

The roads are to the most winding ones we have seen, but the perfect condition like in Austria had disappeared :-) It didn't bother us, and especially not Mike. He was, finally, in Italy. After 62,000 km riding all over the world he was now in the country that had been very high on his bucket list since day one. He was grinning from ear to ear the whole way. Even the mediocre campground couldn't dampen the spirits as the views were still amazing.

Flat-out at 40 mph...
Of course Mike wanted to eat a pizza in Italy. He loves his food and Italian food is a favourite! So what does he do? He goes to the Pizzeria and comes back with 3 whole pizzas! Just because he can eat a whole pizza, doesn't mean I can!?! Then again Jeanette ate hers without any problem too! Great pizza, don't get me wrong, but I was stuffed.

Mike had chosen the route through the Dolomites and into Sud-Tirol and had done so by basically connecting each and every mountain pass he could find on the map :-) The more winding, the better. We stopped a lot for photos and to simply let the scenery sink in a bit. Looking for a supermarket to get something to eat, we found the Italians have a siesta as well! The only place we found open was a small pizza place... bugger, pizza again :-)

The number of motorcyclists surprised us and especially the number of Germans. Germany had a long weekend of some sort and as the weather forecast was good, they all ran to the Dolomites. It had, according to the ones we spoke to, been a real bad summer in southern Europe. They were enjoying the last break they had to the full. Quite a few castles and vineyards to be found here as well and accommodation in the form of hotels and guesthouses is plentiful. As we're on the road somewhat longer we stay on campgrounds, which are a lot thinner on the ground at this time of year.

Plenty of 'open' tunnels, gorges and old farms completed a picture of nothing but beauty. These landscapes have been 'shaped' over thousands of years. Being here it's not hard to imagine the Romans walking the narrow streets. As we had seen the weather forecast, which promised bad weather in a couple of days, we made the most of the sunshine and thus made long days. 
The days were magic, the nights pretty cold and the resulting condensation in the tents reached 100 percent humidity levels but the days made up for it big time.