Driving through the Dolomites

31 July 2017

Dawn brought a lovey morning with barely a cloud in the sky, so nice it was tempting to stay but we also wanted to move on to Austria and had a vague intention to drive through Cortina on the way – famous for skiing , the European jet-set, and films such as Pink Panther, For Your Eyes Only and Cliffhanger. The route made for a great day’s drive. From Canazei we made the road ascent to Pordoi Pass which is supposed to have 27 hairpins but we counted 37!  For the first 20 Danny kept behind the 471 bus which nicely cleared our way for us. Then we were on out own, cautiously overtaking cyclists  and being overtaken not to cautiously by motorcyclists – this being Italy sometimes both at the same time. From the pass we descended to Arabba counting another 37 hairpins.

The hairpins continue on and off most of the afternoon as climbed then descended through the mountains. The scenery all the way was glorious and the roads so much better than those on the France-Italy border that we were both able to relax and enjoy the views. We thought where we had stayed was beautiful – the day’s drive challenged that as we went deeper into the Dolomites.

IMG_2329Huge mountains, deep valleys, winding roads, meadows and thick conifer forests all blending together to make up this wonderful landscape, punctuated by pretty Tyrolean chalets and villages. At Col Gallina (6742ft) a packed car park indicated the presence of a cable car to the towering pinnacles of Torri Falzarego above. We stopped for a coffee/beer whilst we enjoyed the warm sun and spectacular views.

Cortina D’Ampezzo was the only town of any size we went through and we could see why the jet-set visit it for the ski-ing. The setting in summer is fantastic and covered in snow it must be gorgeous. And the town itself has a really nice feel as we drove down through and back up the other side toward Austria.

IMG_2346(The square on the windscreen is for our Head Up Display so we can see our speed)

When we crossed the border into Austria we stopped at the first service station for a vignette (special pass) for the van to allow us to access all Austrian roads as the fines for being on the wrong road without one are high. Things we noticed about Austria – huge hay meadows, better roads, lots of lumber yards and wood mills, brown and white cows, and small housing estates in traditional chalet style, very pretty.

We were still in the Dolomites but there was definitely a different feel, softer and more open.

At the small rural town of Lienz we located a lovely site and booked a pitch for a week, surrounded by green fields, mountains and trees. As we sat and surveyed our new view we both agreed that the day’s drive is what our danderings are all about. For years we have enjoyed touring the UK in a car – and more recently Mexico – often make a journey last three times as long as it should by taking the back-roads, enjoying the changing scene and hopefully learning a bit. Okay – our wanderings are also about walking, cycling, local cuisine, beer & wine, and watching nature, but it’s all held together by the touring.

Now it’s time to relax and explore Lienz – a place we’ve never heard of before. Touring is great.