[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ]d24: Into the Dolomiti (by Philipp Gesang, location: Under the Trees of the Auronzo Campsite )

The Plain

The night was interrupted by a bout of intense rain that endured for half an hour but still managed to surround my tent with a puddle. The pressure by wind and rain was strong enough to dislodge one of the pegs, causing the tent to stand crooked for most of the night. Thankfully in the morning the clouds were gone again.

The Po plain has pretty much the same scenery as the Delta: a network of drainage channels and dikes with fields in between. Ducking under a light headwind hunched over the tri-bars I rode towards the Alps and watched the mountains grow taller with every pedal stroke.


And tall they grew. Just before noon I hit the 80 km mark on the GPS when I passed through the town of Vittorio Veneto at the entrance to the Meschio river valley. First it was necessary to get over watershed and into the Piave river valley which I followed for morst of the afternoon. The scenery changed radically inside of a handful of kilometers. From the ultra-flat terrain of the Plain to the rocks of the Alps standing over a thousand meters tall left and right. The weather underwent a similar change, instead of the sunny sky with a few clouds and pleasant temperatures it now got significantly cooler thanks to a chilly breeze blowing down from further up the valley and dark clouds that seemed to be stuck between the summits of enormous rocks. Thankfully the clouds were content today with merely appearing a threat, it only rained for about fifteen minutes.

The valley has been made into a series of water reservoirs. Although the net altitude never even exceeded 1000 m the second half of the day consisted of almost constant climbing to reach the level of the next artificial lake further up the river. Albeit open to cyclists, the new "superstrada" style road was a bit too busy for my taste. Plus it involves climbing in a total of approximately 10 km of tunnels, as Guglielmo, a tourer heading for Munich, told me. Luckily the old road is still usable. Not as even and straight it adds some more climbs and extra kilometrage but not prohibitively so. The upside is that there was almost zero traffic aside from the schoolbus and a bunch of cycle tourers almost all of which were headed south.

Just outside Auronzo the Ansiei river forks off from the Piave. The town occupies most of the less steep slopes north of the river, and it is utterly stunning. Most buildings have that wooden paneling that is characteristic of Alpine architecture, it reminds of the Interlaken area. And it's crowded too, nevermind the Covid and the awful weather of the last couple weeks. To get to the campsite I had to climb out the other end of town to a final altitude of 930 m, higher than even the Carpegna campsite. The valley tapers off to the west so the mountains are very close in three directions. And it's way colder too. I actually donned the cold weather clothes for the first time that were waiting for their time to shine all the way from Sicily. This is going to be one interesting night!


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