Photo from Cortina d'Ampezzo

The Italian Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites

When I left Russell and Lake Garda I was intent on gaining altitude to escape the fierce heat and so the obvious location was The Italian Dolomites. I headed up the East side of Lake Garda past Malcesine on onwards through Riva del Garda headed for Ora. Being a Sunday afternoon most shops were closed so when I spotted a large EuroSpa open I pulled in to get some supplies.

Originally I had planned to continue on to Canazei and look for somewhere to overnight but some distance before that I noticed about 15 motorhomes parked in a car park near a cable car station. It was obvious from the silver screens applied to some that they were overnighting and so I joined them. The location turned out to be Cavalese and as hoped it was at least 8 degrees celcius cooler than it had been at Lake Garda.

On Monday morning I had a knock at my door. It turned out to be a Scotsman who had been staying in the car park for a week. He was in his 70’s and his wife Maggie had been taken ill with Pneumonia and was being treated in the local hospital.  We had a brief chat about his wife and family and his previous visits to The Italian Dolomites as a young man. After our chat he drove off in his Renault self build panel van to visit her with his dog Henry. Later that day he returned with his wife who was well enough to return home. She said the care she had received had been good and the only charge made was €7.00 for a X-ray which they were taking back to show to their own G.P. We said our goodbyes and they drove off, heading for the Brenner Pass. Monday had been an admin day for me and I decided to stop at the car park for another night whilst I tried to work out where else I could stay in the region.

On Tuesday morning I decided it was time to leave and continue my journey in The Italian Dolomites on through Canazei and then to Cortina D’ampezzo. The mountain passes I had to endure were as bad as those I experienced close to Mont Blanc, the Hymer did not like the steep ascents and I even had to leave it in 2nd gear for the steep descents for fear that the vehicle would gather too much pace for the next hairpin bend.  I was even forced off the main road down a narrow side street due to road works, causing me to dent the rear locker door. Finally I reached Cortina D’ampezzo only to find signs making it clear that overnighting was not allowed so I pulled over in a layby to connect to the internet to get some information. Someone from Motorhome Facts had advised me that there was a Sosta in a town called Fiames on a disused airfield just a few miles away. It was easy to find but cost €12.00 for 24 hours as it was high season. This seemed a little expensive considering there were no facilities or electricity but I did not want to face more mountain roads that day. After parking up I checked the cupboards for something to eat only to find 4 different varieties of pasta! In the vain hope of variety I selected a different shape from the night before and tucked in. I felt like some light entertainment before bed so went through the DVD drawer before deciding on the Bourne trilogy, watching the first 2 that night.

On Wednesday morning at about 6am I was already awake but relaxing in bed when I heard a helicopter land close to my motorhome. It appears the airfield was no longer used by planes but was still very much in use by this helicopter.

My neighbour the helicopter

After a shower I decided to walk into Cortina which took me about 40 minutes. Apparently Cortina is known as the Queen of The Italian Dolomites and was the venue for the 1956 Winter Olympics. I spent about an hour in town taking some photos and finding 2 Geocaches before walking back to Fiames to do some washing. Whilst my clothes were drying I watched the final Bourne movie, emptied my grey water and toilet and took on a fresh tank of water before leaving the airfield.

The Italian Dolomites
Photo from Cortina d’Ampezzo
Photo from Cortina d’Ampezzo

It had been my intention to head to Treviso where there was a Sosta and a cheap train to Venice. However when I checked the weather forecast it was clear that in The Italian Dolomites it would reach a high of 28 degrees celcius whereas in Treviso and Venice the forecast for the next 3 days was 36 degrees celcius. Armed with this information I decided to stay in The Italian Dolomites for at least one more night and began to drive to Arabba looking for the Aree Di Sosta. The GPS took me straight to it but again it was charged at €12.00! The town of Arabba seemed very pleasant, though both supermarkets had closed before I arrived. Faced with the prospect of pasta yet again I decided to instead order a toasted Panini from the bar next to the Sosta.

This brings me up to date as I type this latest report from the car park. I can barely concentrate over the noise of loud music and some guy shouting instructions into a microphone which after investigation appears to be some sort of Italian line dancing which is taking place on the 5 a side football pitch next to me.

The last few days had been an interesting journey! I had seen some great scenery and the altitude of The Italian Dolomites had given me some relief from the fierce heat at sea level.


  1. Dear Gary,

    I hope you are well. I’ve enjoyed reading your post and noticed you have a hymer. We have just purchased ours and hoping to start our travel this winter. One of the destinations on our list is the Dolomites. How is it driving with the hymer during winter on mountain roads and snowy conditions? Our hymer is 25yrs old. A classic one. We’d like to visit some alps and mountains but would love some information about the driving situations. Is it safe enough to drive up to Dolomites during winter? Would appreciate your advise. Thank you very much and enjoy your travels.

  2. Hi Delly,

    Yes I’m well thanks. I sold the Hymer some years ago and have been without. Recently got a campervan so the adventures should start again soon. I can’t really assist with your question as I did not visit the Dolomites in winter. Many motorhomers do though, especially those interested in skiing. You will need to check local laws on tyres. You would want tyres with the M&S symbol or alpine rated and chances are that they may even insist that you carry chains too. The other issue you may face is keeping warm. Even older Hymers are generally well insulated. If you plan to stay on sites with electric you can carry a small heater as I’m guessing your boiler is gas only and you will go through a lot of gas with heating in winter. Hopefully your freshwater tank is in the vehicle like it was on my Hymer. The wastewater tank is usually underslung on this vintage though and it will freeze if you allow water to collect there. On very cold nights I would keep the drain open and let water collect in a bucket. Very often in winter I would use sites more often, using their electric and their washrooms. The result was that the amount of water collecting in the bucket was very limited (washing up, washing hands etc).

    Good luck with it!

    The Motorhome Vagabond

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