Sunday, September 4, 2011

A day in the gorgeous South Tyrol

We spent the entire day today in Italy, or more correctly in the South Tyrol . It seemed like everyone decided to spend a beautiful Sunday morning in the mountains. We passed motorcycle groups, a long line of antique Fiat Topolino cars, tour busses, and people hiking up the mountains. This area is filled with ski areas, from small local places to large, extravagant resorts. Most had gondolas operating today to ferry people up and down the mountain. Don't miss today's video:
The views continued to be incredible, and I even spied the largest glacier in the Dolomites:  the Marmolada (Queen of the Dolomites) at 10,964’ elevation.

Now that everyone is more comfortable handling the hairpin turns on the mountain passes, we typically start as a group at the bottom of the pass, then ride at our own pace to the top where we meet up to talk about the adventure before heading off, again at our own pace, to another meeting point on the valley floor below. At the top of one this morning’s passes, we saw several cars brightly decorated, and one with “” painted on the sides in large letters. 4 men wearing orange jumpsuits jumped out of the car, and we couldn’t resist talking with them. They’re from the UK, part of a large group who purchases cars for no more than 300 each, decorates them with a theme, and sets off on a European trip. They’re on their way to France, having lots of fun and hoping the cars hold together.
We stopped for a morning coffee break at the top of Corvara Grödnerjoch, where a local farm family makes their summer home. Their original wooden house is at least 300 years old, with a larger, new home built within the past 3 years. They serve beverages and lunch on the porch, surrounded by mountains in every direction. This sure beats a traditional coffee shop for atmosphere and taste!
300 year old farmhouse

barn at Corvara Grödnerjoch

This was our last day in the Dolomites, and the Jaufenpass took us into a beautiful green valley in the Alps. We zipped along the wine road to Meran, enjoying the opportunity to ride a bit faster, but also missing the thrill of the twisty, narrow mountain roads. The valley is lined with vineyards for the local wine, and also seemingly millions of apple trees.
on the way to Meran
The only downside was the rain that started on the top of the last pass, and continued throughout the afternoon. I glimpsed beautiful homes and tree-lined streets in Meran through my rain-spattered helmet, but stayed dry with my Frogg Togg waterproof clothing. Jay and Barb actually know the women who started this company; motorcycling is a small world!
Our day ended in Kastelbell Tschars, our last night in the SüdTirol in Italy. Everyone here speaks German, even though they’re Italian citizens. Tirol was once an autonomous region of Austria, but after WWI was divided, with the southern section going to Italy. The people in this region consider themselves Tiroleans, not Italians, and proudly maintain their culture and language. I never would have experienced all of this on a typical trip to Europe – another benefit of riding pillion on a motorcycle!

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