some notes from the road-Dolomites

Oct 21st, 2004, 01:46 PM
  #1  
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some notes from the road-Dolomites

Im in Bolzano on the last day of my 3 day trip to the Dolomites.

Arrival in Verona from Paris on Air France (regional plane) which was actually very comfortable. At Verona you take the bus,parked right outside the arrival gate,that will take you right to the train station. with only a few minutes to spare (about 8 minutes to be exact) I got in lineand bought my ticket for the train to Bolzano. Very comfortable (the 1150 to Brennero)which takes about 1.5 hours and makes several stops along the way..but is a lovely ride particularly as you go farther into the mountains.pay attention to how the scenery changs and how you suddenly start seeing the austrian influence after you pass trento and start seeing the onion dome austrian churches.

Bus to Castelrotto takes about 40 minutes. if you are depending on public transport (as i was) be aware that castelrotto is not the easiest place to get to...but once you see how the bus has to go up the mountain roads (and barely clears the side of the rock on many turns) it will be easier to understand why. The trip, however, is more than worth the effort.

Hotel, the Cavallino doro. a 4 star hotel right on the main square.Bus arrives right behind the hotel...take the steps up and there you are. I reserved a double for single use (room 24) i was warmly welcomed.the rooms are very comfortable (and a bargain really) with large windows ( i had a balcony) and a magnificent view of the Dolomites. As i did not have time to get something to eat at Verona station due to getting to the train i was famished. In Castelrotto everything is closed during the early afternoon. the hotel left nothing to be desired,except if you want to be real nitpicky.

Castelrotto after the first week of october is pretty much closed down. this seems to be the last week before everything is totally closed for november. However, i would recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights. The hiking is magnificent,even for a city boy like me that doesnt have much hiking experience. the other guests were all germans and many had their little hiking sticks and hiking gear. i did fine without any of that but a good pair of hiking boots.a light jacket is more than enough really,particularly once you start hiking. reception staff and any of the locals will be happy to point out the best trails.Stefan, the owner,was particularly nice. he suggested the most scenic hikes to take and where i could get the best pictures etc. the hotel staff was excellent. i would absolutely go back to this hotel anytime.

photography-you cant take bad pictures in castelrotto,its impossible. the town itself looks like a typical small town in germany or austria with lovely paintings (or frescos?) on the facades of some of the houses and hotels. You will see names on the sides of the houses, be aware that there are not the names of the family that lives there they are instead the names of the house or building itself. Great pictures of the mountains,even when there was overcast...Schlern looked fabulous..nice pics to take from St. Valentin.

It was a surprise for me and one that made the whole experience totally different for me. I spoke german as a child but really havent used it for more than an hour at a time in the last 20 years..still (miraculously) i was able to carry on all conversations in german. the villagers were very sweet, this one lady in particular had seen me on the trail the day before and she remembered me and we ended up having a long lovely conversation all the way back into town. quite unforgettable really.

Decided to stay in Bolzano as i planned on catching an early train for my one day in Venice. Hotel Greif, which is the sister hotel of the Laurin. I had reserved a single but floors 2 and 3 are nonsmoking only (make sure to double check this before you leave if you are a smoker.) Instead i was given a double room at a slightly higher rate,quite reasonable for what you get. The rooms are exquisite,even the single seemed roomy.you can specify that you want a view of the dolomites or Walther platz, i would suggest a view of the dolomites personally. The hotel is basically around the corner and up the street from the train station, no more than 5 minutes walking...too close to take a cab unless you are schlepping too much stuff.
the rooms themselves are all individually decorated by different artists. the one i have (101) is very tastefully done and really no touch is forgotten.an elegant hotel that lives up to its motto "very personal". the one thing was that i will have to wait to pay my bill til morning when i would have preferred to pay it when i got home from dinner, no big deal really.

things in bolzano. there are lots of shops,some nice fashions but it has more of a small city feel. you will defintely want to see the big attraction, Otzi the iceman, a guy from the Copper Age (4th century bc) who was mummified in the ice. he still has his skin and internal organs though his hair was lost when they first discovered him. Curiously, all of the major people who discovered him have died in recent years, the most recent being last week. The archaeological museum in Bolzano, where otzi is, is nicely done and shows the archeological finds in the Alto Adige region through all the separate times.it does a really nice presentation except for the audiophone guides in english go into a bit too much detail at times.

you will also want to take the tram up to Oberbozen (soprabolzano).

The dolomites are still a bit out of the way but more than worth going to. weather is super,right now a light jacket was suffiecient at the higher altitudes and in bolzano that is a bit too much for me right now.

thanks to bob the navigator, steve james,heather from chicago and those who were so kind about sharing their expereinces in this area, it has been one of the few places ive seen i immediately felt i wanted to come back to,,,it really is gorgeous.
Wildfire is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 03:12 PM
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Great report of one of my favorite areas!!!
Amazing place....one that I keep returning to!!!
Thanks!!
Bailey is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 04:02 PM
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Wildfire, aren't the Dolomites breathtaking?? I so enjoyed your report. I can sit for hours and hours and just look at them. My Italian friends tease, but of course they understand because the love the Dolomites so much too. Your trip sounds wonderful.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 21st, 2004, 04:12 PM
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Great report - please continue to send more info.

Have a wonderful time.
hansikday is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 05:38 AM
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You are very welcome. Thanks for reporting back---I just love Castelrotto. Check out my shot of the Sella Pass in my photo gallery posting.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 07:24 AM
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Another Dolomites convert? Hey - welcome to the club, Wildfire Didn't you wish you'd had more than 3 days?

Now you know why so many of us just keep going back. Stunning, aren't they?
Even more so in the winter IMO - and I'm not even a skier.

Which hikes did you do? Were you able to use any of the lifts?

Now you've got me counting off the days to my next visit ...

Steve

Steve_James is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2004, 09:20 AM
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We are spending a week in June at the Cavallino Doro based on many recommendations. I have previously stayed in Bolzano but wanted a change.

We are driving up from Florence.

Any recommendations on daytrips or hikes would be appreciated!
kfusto is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2004, 10:43 AM
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Steve, bob the navigator and all who have answered,thanks for the nice comments.

Hikes, well i did one to St. Valentin,another to St. Michael, another one a bit farther up. the lifts were working but basically Castelrotto was closing down for the whole of November and many hotels and business were already closed. Ill put it this way, I am planning to go back earlier in October or perhaps even September...

Steve, yes i wish i could have stayed 3 more days,,,,minimum. I would really have an easy time spending a week up in the mountain towns,,im crazy about that area as you are

Kfusto,,,great that you are spending a week there. try the lift up to would love to try trail 1 i think it was that went up Schlern. but of course being a city slicker without proper hiking equipment that is something ill try another time.

the others who have visited this area, did you have any language difficulties? I guess i was in a bit of a special situation in that area.


Wildfire is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2004, 02:48 PM
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Wildfire: Very good report. Brings back great memories. I agree, the Cavallino D'oro is a really nice hotel; great location, fine amenities and lots of character.
With apologies to Wildfire, some additional information about the area: There are seven well marked, very accessable trails going out toward the Alpi di Siusi you can reach from the vicinity of the ski lift. The views are awesome. From the Cavallino D'oro, go to the main road where all the flags are hanging. The American Flag was hanging upside-down when we where there. Never did find out why. Cross the road and go up the incline to the ski lift area. Continue up the hill where you will find the trailheads marked with a good description of each trail.
By the way, the little Austrian restaurant, Lift Steubal (that's close) by the lift is very good. Pretty inside with good views (lots of glass) from every table. Try the "Stink" with spatzle. Actually, it's a braised pork knuckle. They make delicious hearty soups. You will get a complimentary glass of grappa at the end of your meal.
For a real adventure, take the narrow, but well paved road about two and a half miles up to the little village of Tagusens (again, close). The village is actually about five clustered houses, a little 13th century church and several farmsteads. There is a meadow on the edge of the village with a sign pointing to Frostburg Castle. At the edge of the meadow, the partially cobblestoned path goes pretty much straight down; a pretty, easy forty-five minute hike down to the castle. The castle is marvelous in that it was built in the 1400s, altered a bit in the 1600s and remains, virtually, unchanged because of its location. You either hike down to it or up to it from the valley floor. Magnificent ceilings, frescoed walls, ancient tiled room warmers, paintings, some furniture, much that is original, it is just a great find. Guided tours are given by locals in Austrian, Italian and German, no English. We were fortunate to meet a Dutch family that spoke English and German and translated for us. This was certainly one of the highlights of our Dolomite trip. Oh yea, the hike back to Tagusens and our car took an hour and a half, straight up. But it was worth it and you will see something few do. The folks at Cavallino D'oro can give you information and directions.
Dinner that night was at Zum Turn, a wonderful old world restaurant trmmed in dark wood and offering great food and an equally great wine list. We had an Amarone. Love this area.
joegri is offline  
Oct 24th, 2004, 04:44 AM
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Wildfire - Language difficulties? Interesting question ...

I speak Italian, so no, generally I don't have a problem. But this is one area where being able to speak some German would be more useful.

The majority in this area are German mother-tongue, and Italian is the second language. In the Ladin valleys (Gardena, Badia, Fassa ...) Italian is third.

Whilst the whole region of Alto Adige/ South Tyrol is nominally bi-lingual, they often struggle with Italian (- and even more so with English) - but staff in hotels & restaurants usually speak enough to get by.

Italians unfortunately tend to be treated as second-class citizens in this area sometimes. I'd heard about this from Italian friends, but had personal experience of it once in a bar in Bolzano. I ordered something (in Italian), the waitress shrugged, turned her back ... and refued to serve me.

This is more likely to happen in Bolzano, I think, than in the mountain areas which depend on tourism. There is still resentment - especially among the older generation - that this area is not still part of Austria.

Try and go back in September when all the lifts are still open. They're good fun ... and fantastic for views!

Steve

P.S. Kfusto - I posted some scenic drives from Castelrotto a while back. I'll top the thread or re-post it separately for you.
Steve_James is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 03:25 AM
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Thanks, Steve! I will lookf roward to getting them.
kfusto is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 05:07 AM
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Kfusto - Just topped it for you.

Here's the link:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...me=Steve_James

Steve
Steve_James is offline  
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