Italy 2017

Sunday July 2, 2017
Siena and Palio

Monday July 3, 2017
Travel to the Dolomites

Tuesday July 4, 2017
Driving the Sella Ronda

I took a few pictures of my gorgeous hotel, got breakfast, and tried to figure out how to get to the train station.
I was tempted to walk to see the town but was also afraid of missing the train, and it had taken the taxi forever to get here.
A fellow traveller from the US offered to share his taxi and by the time it arrived I decided that was the safest route, I didn't want to miss the train.

The other guy in the cab was married from LA but travelling alone.
He booked this trip to Rome and Siena nearly a year in advance, sounded like he booked this entire trip mainly to see Palio.
He had watched a practice race, he indicated the winning jockey was very skillful, that's why he won...

The view from the garden of Hotel Palazzo Ravizza
Pano, scroll right.

2017-07-03 08:03

Back of Hotel Palazzo Ravizza

2017-07-03 08:04

Garden of Hotel Palazzo Ravizza

Lobby of Hotel Palazzo Ravizza

I had a long day of travel...

Departing Siena around 920am, it took about two hours to get to Florence.
Another hour from Florence to Bologna.
Another 2-1/2 hours from Bologna to Bolzano.
I arrived in Bolzano at 3:15pm

On the train I booked a room for one night in the Hotel Garni Franca in Wolkenstein / Val Gardena for $65 using tripadvisor and booking.com
I also booked an 'economy' car in Bolzano for 3 days from Budget using Priceline for $128 (fun fact - booking.com and priceline are part of the same company, but booking.com does not have rental cars while priceline does)

The Adige valley between Verona and Bolzano looked almost exactly like the Rhone valley in Switzerland - huge mountains on either side, grapes and peaches growing everywhere, the occasional castle

Once in Bolzano I took a taxi from the train station to the rental car facility in an industrial area of Bolzano about 1-1/2 miles from the train station.

They must have really liked me at Budget, cause while I was getting my car one of the agents told the other to give me the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
I know almost nothing about Alfa Romeos, I assumed that if they were giving me one, Alfa Romeo must make crappy low end cars as well as nice cars since I was paying next to nothing for this rental.

When I got down to the basement and found my car I couldn't believe they'd just given me this car for $40 / day....

2017-07-03 15:52

In the US the Giulia starts at $40k and goes up to at least $55k with options.
It is rear wheel drive, and features a carbon fiber driveshaft to save weight and balance the car.
Mine was a diesel, and I didn't see another one on the road for the next 3 days.

Driving out of Bolzano was harrowing at best.
I made at least one wrong turn despite the fact I was using google maps for navigation.
The freeways and roads were an absolute maze, I don't know how you'd navigate them with maps.
Once I headed up into the mountains the Alfa Romeo really began to shine.... it drove like a dream...

2017-07-03 16:46

Entering Val Gardena / Wolkenstein

2017-07-03 17:17

Finding the hotel was challenging, the narrow one lane 'road' looked more like a long driveway.
Fortunately there was a parking spot left and it was easy to get into.

My room

PANO - scroll right

View from my room is beautiful.... pretty sure every single room in the Dolomites has an amazing view...
I've had so much luck with last minute reservations I may never book another hotel room in advance again..

Austrian cycling race peakbreak.com goes up the Stelvio Thursday, they day after I'm going to attempt it

I walked the length of the town looking for a great place to eat, that was the end of my ambition.
I found a place that appeared a little too high end (snobbish) before settling on Pizzaria Restaurant Rino.
Everything here is Germanic - they serve pizza, and they speak Italian as well as German, but this doesn't feel like Italy anymore.
Interesting rules, like you can't order both pizza and basically anything else at the restaurant....
They never did explain why, you just had to accept this.
The ribs were relatively inexpensive and fantastic.

Dolomotes version of Baby Dance, they've blocked off the main road and have activities set up on the street.
Baby Dance was a 10, this was maybe a 2 or a 3. 
They made an effort but they have alot to learn from Alagna Valsesia

Sunday July 2, 2017
Siena and Palio

Monday July 3, 2017
Travel to the Dolomites

Tuesday July 4, 2017
Driving the Sella Ronda