The Great Dolomite Road, Italy
Everywhere you go in Italy you will find a selection of scenic drives to make getting to your destination more pleasurable. In some cases, like the Great Dolomite Road, the journey becomes more important than the destination, and this superb drive deserves a place on your Italian driving itinerary. If you are exploring Italy by Motorhome you can spend a leisurely couple of days winding your way through some of the most impressive mountain scenery in the country and enjoy some charming villages, towns and view points along the way. La Strada delle Dolomiti, as it is known in Italy is only about 140km long and stretches from Cortina d’ Ampesso, north of Venice, to Bolzano, near the Austrian border, and was built around a hundred years ago to give road access by means of a series of mountain passes. The road contains several hair-pin bends, but can safely be used by motorhomes during the summer months; it can be very congested in peak season – July/August – and the best time to drive it would be in June, or Sept/Oct when it is quieter and snow-free.
If you are starting out from around Venice, drive in a northerly direction to Cortina – a good place for a lunch stop or an overnight stay; Cortina is a very up-market Italian Ski resort and boasts many fine restaurants and good shopping against the beautiful backdrop of the Dolomite mountains. From Cortina you will start climbing up to Passo di Falzarego, the first of three dramatic mountain passes that make up the Great Dolomite Rd. This was a most strategic pass during WWII, and you can stop and visit the museum and the numerous galleries, tunnels and trenches that remain of the WWI battlefields before commencing your drive. Points of interest that may lure you off the road are the Buchenstein Castle and the town of Arabba, a lively ski resort in winter and good for walking and hiking in summer.
Soon you will be in Pordoi Col, (2239mts), the highest point of the road, which offers sensational views and the chance to take a cableway ride to the Sasso Pordoi (2950mts).
Your sensational drive along the roof of the Italian Alps will continue to offer wonderful views as it traverses more passes and villages (with several more opportunities to take cable-car rides along the route, or enjoy one of the numerous walks and hikes in the mountains during summer). The final stretch of the journey will take you across the Eggental valley past the base of one of the mightiest peaks in the region, the Marmolada, before you get into Bolzano where you will be amazed to find mainly German road signs in an Italian town! Of course, you can drive the Great Dolomite road in the opposite direction from Bolzano to Cortina – some say this is the better way to experience the view, so why not go there and back again to see which direction is the best? This is a “must do” scenic drive in Europe – don’t miss it!