As fabulous as our vacation was, our time in the Dolomites was far. Too. Short.
I absolutely LOVED the town of Castelrotto. I love the whole region. The atmosphere of the towns in Northern Italy stir something in me. A feeling I first experienced when we visited Austria and Germany a couple years back. I don’t just like the area, I really feel pulled toward the whole Bavarian region. That’s how I think of it. Yes, I know Bavaria is in Germany. But the German influence encompasses most if not all of Austria and extends into Northern Italy.
This morning, as I was drafting the blog post, I started wondering why. Sure, I really, really enjoy the Lüftlmalerei — frescoes illustrating Bavarian myths, religious scenes and fairytales — that decorate the buildings. And I love the flower boxes. The mountains. The people. The food.
But there has to be more to it. I mean, the pull is strong.
Could it be my German ancestry?
That never dawned on me before, but a quick search on my maiden surname, Reichard, revealed something quite interesting. A couple of things, actually. (I’d probably learn more if I dug deeper.)
One, we have a family crest, which is pictured at the right. Two, the name “Reichard” was first found in Bavaria.
Yep, Bavaria. Maybe there is more to the lure of the region than I first thought.
Whatever the reason, I really like it there. I could spend months exploring Germany, Austria, and Italy. Especially the myriad charming small alpine towns like Castelrotto.
This is no place for a history lesson, so I’ll just share some pics with you.
Castelrotto, like all other towns in that region, has one large church with a steeple that really dominates the skyline. There could be more than one church, but there always seems to be at least one very large steeple at the heart of every small town.
Without the painting, that building would look like a white box. See the corner “stones”? They’re painted on. See the signs that appear to be recessed. It’s just paint. And the stonework around the lower windows? More paint. Click on the picture so you can get a closer look. The architectural trompe l’oeil painting totally fascinates me.
And I have never seen stacks of firewood elevated to an art form. At least they look that way to me.
You see stacks of firewood like this all across the region.
Unfortunately time was short. And the bikes were waiting patiently in the garage for us. We had quite a bit of ground to cover, so after another lovely breakfast at the Hotel Zum Wolf, we packed up and then off we went.
I’m not sure if this pass is really the gateway to the Dolomites, but it sure looks that way to me.
From there, we had a fabulous ride down the mountain. We went down for what felt like ever. But we must have started climbing again at some point because, before I knew it, we were at the Fedaia Pass.
In the next image, you may notice a bit of white atop a mountain. That’s now snow. It’s the Marmolada Glacier. At 10,968 feet (3,343 m), Marmolada is the highest peak in the Dolomites.
The pass was awesome, but the scene at Fedaia Lake, which is at the base of Mount Marmolada, was breathtaking.
The cloudy sky made for some dramatic photos. But then any sort of sky framing a glacier-fed lake surrounded by wildflowers would make for a dramatic scene.
Remember, the lake sat atop the pass.
So we had more descending to do. Which meant…
Not that I am complaining. Switchbacks are fun.
I was amazed that we descended for such a long time. It was down, down, and down some more. Then, at some point, we started climbing again. And before we knew it, we were here.
I am not completely sure where “here” is, but I do know it was at the edge of the Dolomites National Park.
How did I know? There was a sign. 🙂
We carved our way through more mountains and eventually found ourselves back in the lovely valley between Trento and Bolzano.
It looked lovely, anyway. But it was hot. Apparently, Italy was in the midst of an unseasonably warm spell while we were there.
The valley was not far from our destination, thankfully.
We were to spend the night in a picturesque small town, Riva del Garda, which sits at the northern point of Lago di Garda (Garda Lake).
We stayed at the Hotel Sole. Which was very nice. Other than the fact that we couldn’t drive closer than a few blocks from the hotel. It’s located in the middle of a designated pedestrian zone. So we had to schlepp our luggage several blocks.
While we rested, night fell. We were pretty hungry, so we made our way around the little harbor (do lakes have harbors?) to a waterside cafe. We ate more pizza — surprise! — and then indulged in some Italian treats.
I thought the butterfly in the gelato was a nice touch. I can’t believe I didn’t think to save that toothpick! (My Mom always loved butterflies.)
The tables behind the tree in the image above is the pizzeria where we ate.
We strolled around a bit more before going back to our hotel and collapsing.
Motorcycling through the Alps is hard work. A labor of love, yes, but exhausting.
Tired as I was, I didn’t get to sleep right away. It was Thursday night. We were returning the bikes in Milan on Friday.
I was very curious to see what the next day would bring.
Are you anxious to see and hear more?