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Thursday, October 1, 2015

USA ~ "Rocky Mountain High" Italy~ "Dolomite Higher"

Google image of Dolomite Mountains
in Magdalena, Italy
Yes, finally time to explore the interior Dolomite Mountains also known as the “Italian Alps” . The weather on this day, sunny with limited clouds. Our destination was a very small village of Magdalena, Italy way up near the Austrian border. Why this village? Because every time, you Google, “Images of the Dolomite Mountains” this little village appears. According to Google maps it was 185 kilometers from Aviano, that’s about 114 miles.

After extending our, “on base lodging” for another three days, Sam took the wheel and we were off. Of course, we had a regional map and written directions. Now you must understand Italian routes are a little different from US routes. When you come to a round about, which there are many, directions are
This is where we stopped for directions and lunch!
given by towns. Not all towns are on the map and written directions are overwhelming. I had highlighted the route most of the way and we were doing just fine until we reached Cortina D’Ampezzo, the town which held the Winter Olympics several years ago. This town is overgrown with hotels, restaurants, ski and hiking enthusiast. Sam and I are good navigators, but we got turned around a couple of times before heading out on route 51, (in the wrong direction). All is not lost! It turned out to be a beautiful “circle tour". We all agreed it was time to eat. A wonderful Alpine styled restaurant just happened to appear next to a lake with people fishing and sightseeing. We were in “Parco Naturale D
Gnocchi was our choice for lunch and Karla
took care of us for directions!
olomiti di Sesto” (a mouthful, but we were after food). Low and behold a waitress, who spoke very good English. Karla was her name. She put an X on the map, gave us a direction and of course a delicious lunch of “Gnocchi”. I will put in a good travel review in Travelocity. Oh, the restaurant’s name is “Restaurant Duerrensee”. So, back to the road issue. We made a large circle and never had to back track any of our route. Also I haven’t mentioned anything about the scenic views! I think, we’ve been driving the last couple of hours with our mouths wide open in aah! I’ve never seen such grander around every corner! I can’t post every picture here on the blog, but I can tell you I’ve got plenty of keepers!

From Cortina the route would be more isolated, but not deserted. Nearly every village or town had multiple skiing facilities. I mean large chair lifts, gondolas and ariel tramways! I mean multiple in each town. There was no end to this skiing mecca. From route 48, we took a right onto route 244. From here it was extremely difficult! In St Martino in Badia, we took our last recognized turn on route 29. We were one turn away on route 163 to our destination. It was now mid to late afternoon and we had to make a decision. Turn around and head back or find a place to stay. We turned around! I had plugged a geocache at ground zero which was 22.9 miles away. The problem with the Garmin GPS (handheld) was that the road switchback so fast that I kept loosing the satellite fixes.

I was not disappointed! We all had one of the greatest road trip explorations! Sam had done a great job driving all the way up here, some seven hours of aggressive driving! It was time for me to take over the wheel and get us back to Aviano. Sam had looked at our map and set a more direct route. We would be driving most of the switchback roads in daylight. Around 7:30pm, in this part of the world it does get dark.
We didn't make it to Magdalena, but I did get some awesome

It is no wonder that Italians make excellent road race drivers. Mario Andretti comes to mind. The thing you have to remember about left, right curves is this…in slow out fast! I soon got the feel and I was very comfortable and awake! We did stop one more time to photograph a village 3000 feet below the edge of the road.

That my friends is what we saw and did
Warm Sun ~ Cool Breeze @ Colle Santa Lucia

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