There is no doubt that the journey along the Great Dolomites Road between Cortina d'Ampezzo and Bolzano is one of Europe's great road trips. It twists and turns, switchbacking around some of the highest peaks ill the range, and passing through ski resorts and mountain villages along the way. This astonishing feat of engineering was built between 1895 and 1909, and provides a true feast for the eyes of those who travel along it.
From Cortina d'Ampezzo, a chic, expensive ski resort during the winter months, surrounded by magnificent peaks dotted with cable cars and funicular railways, the road ascends sharply to the high pass of Passo Pordoi. During the winter, when the mountains are covered with thick snow, the road may sometimes be impassable without chains, but in spring and summer the scene is verdant and the slopes are covered with a million wildflowers - buttercups, rhododendrons, Alpine poppies and more. The narrow road twists past the Stella mountain group, which looms above you and there is a superb view of Sassolungo thrown in.
As you descend towards Canazei, an attractive Jown in its own right and the halfway mark, you find yourself at the base of the area's tallest peak, the mighty Marmolada. At 3342 m (10000 ft) the mountain, with its pristine white glacier, is known affectionately as the Queen of the Dolomites. As the road drops down to Bolzano it passes through an amazing canyon, near vertical walls rising on either side. The town itself is enchanting: its historic centre rich with notable buildings, Hapsburg era churches and narrow, cobbled streets ensuring its enduring popularity as a tourist resort.
WHEN TO GO
April to September
TIME IT TAKES
About three hours, but you'll see more and have more fun if you spend a night or two en route.
The breathtaking views in every direction.
The South lYrol Archaeological Museum, home to the 5000 year-old mummy known as 'Otzi the Iceman'.
Bolzano's Gothic cathedral, started in1184 and completed in 1382.
The "TYrolean village of San Genesio, known for its celebrations, where the locals wear traditional Tyrolean costume.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Cortina d' Ampezzo, which was the host town of the Winter Olympics in 1956, has also hosted many a film crew. The surrounding mountains have been the location of several films, including The Pink Panther, For Your Eyes only and Cliffhanger.