2017 Summer Adventure part 10, Italy & South Tyrol

Last Updated on: October 23, 2021

From Kirchberg in Tyrol the thought, more than the/a plan, was to ride south to Italy, and the Dolomites.  For as long as possible, try to avoid rain. After the heavy shower in Kitzbuhel, I felt no urge to steer right into one such, again.

Packed and ready to leave Alpenresidenz Adler in Kirchberg

Packed and ready to leave Alpenresidenz Adler in Kirchberg

Fortunately, weather in Austria looked ok, though there was pretty high probability for showers in South Tyrol/Italy and in the Dolomites. Longer term it actually didn’t look too bad.

Heading south, with detours

The 170 from Kirchberg would take me west in the direction of Innsbruck. Was in that area last year, when riding across Timmelsjoch hochalpenstrasse. Which reminds me, I never finished the blog series for 2016, will have to return to that… later…


There were no smaller road running across the mountains my GPS knew about. So I headed back to Kitzbuhel, and took the 108 to Mittersill. From there I first headed along the 165 towards the muncipality Zell am Ziller. Tried to stay off the main as much as possible, and rode up along the mountainsides, on small roads.

Riding up mountain side towards Zell am Ziller had views like this in plenty

Riding up mountain side towards Zell am Ziller had views like this in plenty

Down towards Cortina d’Amprezzo potentially wet weather was waiting. Such is July in the Alps. The weather changes quickly, from valley to valley, mountain to mountain. The day started nice, overcast but partially sunny.  Decided to make the most out of it. Take it easy, and do plenty of detours.

I rode into various valleys and up various mountains. Many of which were dead ends, but it didn’t matter. Every detour was different from the next, and every road led to different views.

The clouds might give some indication of the altitude, such pleasant views!

The clouds might give some indication of the altitude, such pleasant views! Nice bike too 😛

Back the same way, and south again

Where the 165 meets road 169 you either have to turn north, or go southwest. Latter experiment would end by the Schlegeis basin. Further southwest the road ends, or becomes a hiking track. Where it is possible to hike into Italy.  Unlikely a trail one is allowed to ride on a motorcycle.

So as a result took smallways along the 165 back to Mitersill, the south on 108 towards Lienz.

Smallways in Austria was kinda fun, but pointless if you have a plan, which I didn't :)

Smallways in Austria are fun, but be prepared for a bit of back and forth riding 🙂

I had so much fun detouring (again), so time just flew by. Did however manage to make some progress. But I was on an an adventure, with a high degree of improvisation. Some of the places seen I perhaps will never see again.  Not all roads leads anywhere, or they lead somewhere a u-turn is the only option. Like life itself, right?

Done with one valley, over into the next. 

Over from one valley to the next

Over from one valley to the next

Nearing the Italian border

It was way past Lunchtime and time to look for a place to eat. But before that, riding across yet another valley of immeasurable beauty. 

Along Austrian valley road

Riding from one valley across and into the next, towards Italy

When you ride in the Alps local weather is a part of the experience. Showers may lurk in the next valley, or not. Approaching Italy clouds got denser but as it was my destination, there was no way around it. 

Getting closer to the Italian border

Heading closer to the Italian border after lunch, a couple more valleys to cross

Italy and border crossing

I finally ended up where supposed to, on road 100 towards the border. Crossing over into Italy is a-something one hardly notice. Place names and what have we, remain in German.  In addition to Italian which, is how you can tell you’ve crossed the border.

From Last year I knew that people living in the Italian part of Tyrol, South Tyrol, spoke german more than italian. Many consider themselves an ocean apart from Italy.  Or rather, Italy an ocean (or mountain range) apart from them, culturally not the least. 

Short stop in Inniches or San Candido, with rain heavy clouds looming over the mountains

Short stop in Innichen or San Candido, with rain heavy clouds looming over the mountains

Coming into and passing through Innichen or San Candido my weather had ended. But the rain wasn’t too bad, though heavy clouds were looming over the Haunold or Baranci mountain. Plus the direction I was heading, which took me trough Dobbiaco or Toblach.

In Italy, Street view in Toblach (Dobbiaco) looking south in direction of Cortina d'Amprezzo and Dolomites

In Italy, Street view in Toblach (Dobbiaco) looking south in direction of Cortina d’Amprezzo and Dolomites

Towards and around Cortina d’Ampezzo

It was around 4:30pm when I hit the SS51 which would take me along the mountains towards Cortina d’Ampezzo. This town, also known as Cortina, sits in the heart of the southern Dolomites.  It was also clear that it would take me, very likely, again through rainshowers, at best only showers.

The road is pretty cool to ride, better with dry pavement. mixed with twists and turn the ascent is an open invitation for active riding. But it wasn’t to last. At Cimabanche I made a short stop for a coffee and weather proofing.

With the heayy looming clouds made a stop at Ciambache on the way towards Cortina d'Ampezzo

With the heayy looming clouds made a stop at Ciambache on the way towards Cortina d’Ampezzo

Good timing, just a mile or so down the road the cyclops like pissing rain started. Fortunately, a quick shower, intense but fading while riding towards Cortina d’Ampezzo. Good choice of direction in other words!

Safety measures good to have

The BMW R1200GS Adventure (2016 model, the current) has quite a bit of electronic stuff. Among many features, 5 different riding modes. These actually work, some of the modes very well, and change how the bike reacts to surfaces and conditions.  I find Enduro mode when on gravel extremely useful. And as much, in rain and on wet road surfaces, Rain Mode really works well.

The computer in the bike reduces engine power, changes throttle response and stability control. It also changes suspension. All this makes for a safer, more comfortable ride, and one doesn’t have to ride to the end of the world to enjoy it!

Cortina, mountains and passes

When coming in towards Cortina d’Ampezzo one quickly understands why this area have earned such fame as a wintersport place. Why it is so sought after for skiing, but also as a place to go in summer.  The views are breathtaking, the mountains are stunning. 

Cortina d'Ampezzo seen from the road SR48, which leads to, among others, Passo Falzarego

Cortina d’Ampezzo from road SR48, which leads to, among others, Passo Falzarego

It still wasn’t too late in the day. Finally here decided to postpone accommodation search, and instead explore the surroundings. This later turned out not to be the cleverest of decisions but oh well.. adventure.

Cortina d'Ampezzo from another angle

Cortina d’Ampezzo from another angle

For a while i rode up and down, back and forth to check out the valley, the roads and mountains. 

From Passo Falzrego, view towards Cortina

From the road to Passo Falzrego, view towards Cortina, later in the afternoon

I kept on riding for a couple more hours. The weather was changing all the time but as long as there was no rain I kept on.

The Dolomites is south Tyrol is something else.

The Dolomites, with all the different mountains & shapes, is a range unlike any other. Here at Passo di Giau.

It was hard to call it quits, as views, vistas and fantastic mountain scapes were all around.

View up from towards Passo Falzarego

Another view from Passo de Giau

Deciding on a base

While going back and forth, up and down these fantastic roads, time went by quickly. Somewhat late began to search decide for a place to stay. Would be a good idea to find a base for a couple of nights, rather than change location every day. After all, that is exactly what I had been doing for around a week!

While down in Cortina checked a few alternatives there.  Somewhat pricey, again as before thought I could do better. On booking.com. I found a reasonable hotel with great reviews, and booked it for one night. A bit too quickly. Turned out I had booked a hotel… in the next valley! Note to self: always check the geographical location of your destination. 

I had searched for hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo, but cast the net a.. uh.. little to wide. Oh well

Last leg for the day, over the mountains, again

Fortunately it wasn’t raining, as I went up and across the twisty mountain road. Was a little annoyed I hadn’t checked the locality better. Took it easy, after nearly 11 hours on the road could feel it was time to call it quits.

Mountains and grasslands

Mountains and grasslands

45-50 minute later the road descended into the valley Sottoguda. Found Hotel Albergo Genzianella relatively easily and parked. 

The hotel is run by a family, nice and clean place. The in-keeper and his daughter both spoke English well. Good value for the money too, so made a decision and booked myself for two nights. Some food and beers later the day came to an end. 

The next day was going to be fully devoted to mountain pass riding! Back soon with the ➡ post   😉 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *