Italy 2017

Monday July 3, 2017
Travel to the Dolomites

Tuesday July 4, 2017
Driving the Sella Ronda

Wednesday July 5, 2017
Biking the Stelvio

I woke up, skipped breakfast except for my orange juice, and started to drive the Sella Ronda.

Since I was on the west side and it was morning behind the mountains here, I was in deep shade until I got to Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch.
I drove the loop clockwise to get into the sun as soon as possible, and to try to take pictures with the morning sun on the east side of Sella Ronda.

2017-07-04 08:46

Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch looking southwest

Sella Ronda from Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch - looking south to west to north
PANO - scroll right

Sella Ronda from Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch - looking south

Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch - looking southwest

Sella Ronda from Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch - looking north

Headed downhill / east toward Alta Badia / Corvara
Looking southwest

2017-07-04 09:07

Looking southwest

I started to see LOTS of bikes coming uphill from Alta Badia / Corvara.
Also saw lots of motorcycles and sports cars...

2017-07-04 09:08

Looking northwest

2017-07-04 09:13

Looking southwest

2017-07-04 09:22

Sella Ronda
Looking southwest
About halfway between Passo Gardena / Grödnerjoch and Alta Badia / Corvara

Pair of military helicopters in Alta Badia / Corvara with lots of military dudes keeping people away.

Alta Badia / Corvara was a gorgeous sunny little town with lots of hikers and cyclists, I can't believe I didn't get more pictures of it...

When I return to the Dolomites I'll stay in either  Alta Badia / Corvara or Arabba, that way I'd cycle up the pass in the morning in the sun...

PANO - scroll right

Just like Apocolpyse Now...

Coming into Arabba from Passo di Campolongo, looking south

Driving out of Alta Badia / Corvara up Passo di Campolongo I started to appreciate how amazing this car was to drive.
I drive a sportscar daily so I began to push to Giulia... hard....
It leaned into corners like no car I've ever experienced. 
Made my Celica feel flat and clunky.

Arabba, looking west up to Passo Pordio

Arabba, looking west up to Passo Pordio

I almost drove east out of Arabba to see more of the Dolomites and the Marmolada.
My plan was to rent a bike later today so I could start very early tomorrow, before the bike shop opens.
I really wanted to see more of the Dolomotes, but I resisted temptation and kept to my plan to get to Schlanders / Silandro to rent a bike to attack the Stelvio...

As I started up the 33 numbered and signed hairpins going up SR48 out of Arabba toward Passo Pordio I really pushed the Giulia hard.
I was driving more agressively than at least one motorcycle headed uphill, he pulled over to let me pass.
The thrill of driving a gorgeous fun car in a gorgeous fun place was pure heaven.
I texted my friends that we should all rent sports cars and motorcycles and drive the Sella Ronda!
I will definitely come back here....

Sella Ronda from about halfway up SR48, looking northwest.

PANO - scroll right

Passo Pordio looking north
And all too quickly, one of the world's best roads, SR48, was over.

Passo Pordio looking north

Looking east back down toward Arabba and SR48 from Passo Pordio

I drove back down SR48 a short way to get pictures.
looking west up to Passo Pordio

Looking east back down toward Arabba and SR48 from near Passo Pordio.

Canazei looking up northeast at Sella Ronda

Coming down from Passo Pordio to Canazei was still fun to drive, but was nowhere near as scenic because you are soon in the trees.
Only had one 'oh crap' moment where I had too much speed going into a turn - it was quickly corrected without incident...

The Dolomites may be the most beautiful place I've ever seen.
I saw hundreds of bicycles, dozens of motorcycles and sports cars on the roads.
The Giulia was fantastic, if I had any faith in its reliability I'd be tempted to buy one.

Every single ski lift in the Dolomites was running to carry hikers and cyclists
You'd hear the brake squeel on the mountain bikes long before you could see the bikes.

I saw dozens of bright orange photo radar boxes, every single small town in the mountains had at least one set to 50kph / 30mph.
Once I was doing 52 in a 50 zone, I never received a ticket so I guess they aren't that strict.
After a while I realized I hadn't see any signs for Bolzano recently.
When I checked google maps I realized that I'd somehow overshot the route to Bolzano by 20 miles on SP72, I'd kept continuing south.
This did not concern me, I didn't mind a little extra driving in this beautiful machine.

SS38 west of Bolzano, headed west towards Meran / Merano

Downtown Silandro / Schlanders, a car free zone except for hotel parking.

On the way over to Silandro / Schlanders I booked two nights at the Hotel Goldene Rose d'Oro on tripadvisor and booking.com for 76 euros / night.
I didn't know for certain that there was a bike shop here, but according to my very brief research on google maps this was the largest town close to the Stelvio.
I checked in about 2:30 and managed to park my car in the very tight hotel parking lot out back.
The interior of the hotel was huge, they had breakfast and dinner seating inside for nearly 100 people as well as a garden terrace and seating out front.

I told my hosts I needed to rent a bike.
They knew that the only bike shop in town was closed until 3pm and directed me to him - bikeman.it was a block away.

While waiting for the bike shop to open I realized I'm 8 miles and more importantly 600' vertical from the base of the Stelvio... oops!

Once the bike shop opened I had to wait 10 minutes while a pair ahead of me explained the problems with their mountain bikes, they had warped their disc brakes
I imagine that's a common problem around here.

Bikeman.it had dozens of mountain bikes but only 2 road bikes.
His largest road bike was too small for me, he wasn't even going to let me try it.
He said none of the bike shops uphill have any road bikes and he was going to give me the address of a place 18 miles downhill in Merano.
After a little reasoning with him I was able to rent 1 of his 2 road bikes.
He also had to scrounge for some cheap plastic toe clip straps.
Unbelievable that there are no almost road bikes available at the bottom of one of the world's classic bike climbs!

My bike.

2017-07-04 18:11

The room was large and excellent, but the hotel lacked air conditioning.
There was a gentle breeze blowing through the room making it warm but quite bearable.

2017-07-04 18:12

My car in the lot out back, which was directly outside below my balcony.
My bike was in the garage directly below my room.

2017-07-04 19:24

They didn't have an English version of the menu, and most of the staff didn't speak English.
It took far too long for me to find the salad bar on the menu in German - it was kind of obvious since everyone having dinner was also having the salad bar.

2017-07-04 19:35

Semmelknödel / German bread dumplings with fresh mushrooms in butter sauce

Very very very buttery yummy and filling, I couldn't finish them!

Monday July 3, 2017
Travel to the Dolomites

Tuesday July 4, 2017
Driving the Sella Ronda

Wednesday July 5, 2017
Biking the Stelvio