Rediscovering South Tyrol

6 Oct

After a very long day on Monday, followed by dinner at around 11:00 PM, we visited with Annelies and Yves until the wee hours of the morning. Yes, we were exhausted, but we had lots of catching up to do. It’s hard when you only get to see your friends once a year or so.

It’s no surprise that we slept in a bit. I seem to remember it being close to 11:00 when Hubby finally rolled out of bed.

Lago d'Iseo from Annelies & Yves' Balcony

The day was looking a bit overcast. Neither of us were anxious to leave our friends. And since it didn’t look like it would take us all that long to reach our next destination, we had a leisurely breakfast. Which was really more like brunch, timing-wise.

By the time we were finally ready to leave, it was early afternoon. The morning clouds had burned off and it was actually quite warm.

Heading Out

Annelies was kind enough to take that picture of me looking all cool on my red motorcycle. And the next shot, which shows the road we’d ridden up in the dark the previous evening.

Switchbacks Below Apartment in the Daylight

The ride should only have taken about four hours or so. Had we traveled a more-direct path.  But “direct” is rarely very scenic, so Hubby chose a somewhat slower, more circuitous route.

For the most part, the ride was unremarkable. Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice riding day. There was lots of interesting stuff to see, just not dramatic mountains and things like that.

Although we did get a nice view of the lake from the other side.

Lago d'Iseo from the Hills on the Eastern Side

The route we chose took us south around the bottom of the lake and then gradually north / northwest to Castelrotto (Kastelruth in German).

I should have stopped to take more pictures, but I was rather enjoying the mental zone-out. All I really had to think about was keeping Hubby in my sights since he was leading the way. And riding, of course. Other than those two rather important things, I was free to just absorb the scenery.

Hubby

We did take periodic rest breaks. I think we stopped here to have some water and a quick snack of trail mix, both of which we carried with us.

You can’t tell from that picture, but it was starting to look like rain off in the distance.  Weather in the mountains is always unpredictable and conditions can change rapidly, so we didn’t linger long.

One of the Skinniest, Two-way Roads I Have Ever Seen

I’ve told people over and over that the roads in Europe can get pretty narrow. Cars are smaller, for one thing. For another, the terrain can be a bit extreme. The road in the above shot, which is about as wide as a bicycle path in the US, was carved into the side of a small mountain. As Hubby said, “That road is so narrow, it only has one stripe!”

Yes, it really is a two-way street. There were pullouts periodically, which is good. Because if we encountered a car or truck coming in the opposite direction, someone would have to back up.

Luckily, the only oncoming traffic we saw was a motorcycle. The road went on like that for several miles. It was interesting. If you look at my right-side mirror, you’ll see that I am as far to the right as I could possibly get. At that point, even an opposing motorcycle would have been careful when squeezing past.

When we finally crested the top of that particular small mountain, this is the view that greeted us…

Lago Idro (Lake Idro) As Seen by the Helmet Cam

Here’s the scene as captured with my camera.

Lago Idro

Fortunately, there was a place to pull off so we could take some pics and just enjoy the view.

ToadMama

The funny thing is, that was the only good view of that lake. We wound down the mountain after our break and didn’t see the lake again, other than very brief glimpses through the trees, until we had reached the valley floor.

The rest of the ride was nice, but the scenery wasn’t very dramatic. Interesting, just not dramatic enough to make me want to stop for pictures.

Except for the valley between Trento and Bolzano, that is. Where we should have stopped for a capture or two, but I just didn’t feel like it at the time.

We’d seen a vineyard or two during our travels the previous day. And cornfields. I never knew they grew so much corn in Italy. Rice paddies, too, around Milan. (By the way, I didn’t know they grew rice in Italy. That goes to show you how little research I did prior to our trip.)

I was tickled to see that the valley between Trento (southern end) and Bolzano (northern end) was covered in vineyards and orchards. When I say covered, I mean COVERED.

The next shot I found for you sort of shows it, but you have to click on that picture to get to the web site and then click on that picture. Or, you can click THIS LINK for a closer look.

Aerial View from Bolzano (link from Snooth Drink Better Wines site)

Here’s another interesting shot…

Valle dell'Adige

It was gorgeous, really. And we kept coming across tractors pulling wagons full of grapes. It was cool. Just what one would expect to see in one of the major wine-producing countries in the world.

But honestly, by that time we’d been riding for HOURS. The day was getting late. I knew we were getting close to Castelrotto, too, so I just wanted to keep pressing on and get there already!

Alas, that was not to be. We hit Bolzano during what I suspect was rush hour. Though I am not sure since it was around 7:00 PM. With Bolzano (Bozen in German) being the capital city of the province of South Tyrol, it was pretty crowded. And traffic was a mess. Lucky for us, lane splitting and traffic avoidance is a-OK for motorcyclists in Europe, so we went around all of that and let the GPS re-calculate a route to Castelrotto for us.

Although we got to enjoy some very interesting, and VERY small, roads, we were slowly losing daylight. We ended up riding across an open meadow on the side of a mountain on another one of those bike-path-type roads, which led straight to someone’s house. Yep, a driveway.

So we backtracked. And backtracked some more.

I was starting to worry as hotel check-in closed at 10:00. And we still hadn’t found Castelrotto.

Once it was full dark, Hubby decided to stop and figure things out. That’s when he realized the GPS was missing a critical piece of road map. Castelrotto was on the next mountain. Only 11 kilometers away. As the crow flies. But we couldn’t fly, so Hubby got out the computer, downloaded the correct maps, got the route figured out, and off we went.

More switchbacks in the dark. Oh joy! 🙂

It was about 9:58 when we reached Castelrotto. But we couldn’t find our hotel, which was listed as the Hotel Zum Wolf.

Hotel Zum Wolf

As you can see by looking at the image above, which shows the front of our hotel, “Hotel Zum Wolf” doesn’t exactly jump out at you. Oh, and the front of the hotel is in a pedestrian-only zone, which meant we could not drive past the front of the hotel.

To make a long story short… Hubby chased down a passing Carabinieri car (national military police in Italy) and, after determining that they did speak a bit of English, asked for directions. It was about 20 past 10 by then. The policemen were tickled to learn that we were Americans riding BMWs (not Harleys), and they offered to lead us to our hotel. If we could wait a couple of minutes.

We didn’t have far to go. Of course, the hotel registration area was locked down by the time we arrived. I simply rang a buzzer and the proprietor, who could not have been more helpful, came down to let me in. I started rambling about why we were so late. She interrupted me to ask, very seriously, “Did the police bring you here?” What a hoot!

She felt sorry for us and upgraded us at no charge to a suite. She even helped us carry our stuff to the room. And told us about a great pizzeria that would be open until 11.

She only forgot to tell us one important thing…

My First Real Italian Pizza

In Italy, if you want your pizza sliced, you have to make a special request. We didn’t have cutlery in our suite. Not even plastic cutlery. And we were hungry. So we made do.

And that ended Day 2.

5 thoughts on “Rediscovering South Tyrol

  1. Unsliced pizza?!! What a funny ending to a charming anecdote. The best travel stories are those of hardship and anxiety, ending in comfort and warmth. Those are the most memorable experiences.

    Beautiful country. Switchbacks in the dark is an experience that’ll frighten anyone.

  2. Our cars smaller? No! :-)) Was giggling reading about your adventures in Castelrotto again. And that photo of you with the pizza is one of my all-time favourites of you!

  3. That last picture is awesome. Overcome, adapt, and improvise!!

    It sounds as though you had an interesting day but the scenery was pretty. Not dramatic, but pretty. You can’t complain about riding on two wheels in Europe with your hubby, that is for sure. Well you could, but we wouldn’t listen.

  4. Thanks for the compliment, Fuzzy! Hubby actually had an identical pizza. The lady at the pizzeria told us they were small. One pizza would not have been enough for both of us, but a single pizza was also too much for one person. We gave it our best shot, though.

Comments are closed.