We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
429 posts
51 reviews
Save Topic
Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Dear fellow travellers

My husband and I are in the final planning of our upcoming self-drive Holiday in Northern Italy and need your assistance in finding the most scenic mountain route from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo. We have heard about a route name "Grand Italian Alps Road" - or something to that extend - but cannot seem to find any info on same, hence my question here.

We shall be arriving early morning in Bolzano by means of the auto-train and we have the entire day at our disposal to discover the mountains and scenery while driving to our first overnight stay in Pocol by Cortina d'Ampezzo. We just love mountains and lush green meadows and are looking extremely forward to enjoying a full day in the Alps. Only, which route should we drive? We love to zig-zag across moutain passes and we love to linger or take small hikes across green meadows. A small excursion by cable car or a sight or two to stop at enroute will make the day perfect. We are used to driving in the mountains, so we don't mind driving along the tiny "yellow" roads as long as they are considered general safe - in fact, this is what we prefer given the best scenery.

PS: Looking at a map the distance between Bolzano and Cortina d'Ampezzo looks very short (100 km direct) - so if you think we should make a detour into a corner of Austria or some kind of an extra loop or what-ever, please don't hesitate to give us your suggestions.

Do hope any of you are familiar with the "Grand Italian Alp Road" and/or can guideline us in details to a perfect day in the mountains. Thank you so very much.

Kind regards - PURPLE

Edited: 6:25 am, July 02, 2013
Mentioned in this post
Italy
Italy
Europe
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Province of Belluno, Italy
Austria
Austria
Europe
Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,725 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

I think you probably mean "the Great Dolomite Road":

I can't find much in English, but on various Italian sites, I've found the information that it used to be State highway 48, but it's been downgraded, although parts of it seem to still have the SS (state highway) 48 designation, and in some places it's designated the SR (regional highway) 48. In other places, it has a different route number altogether (SS 241 leaving Bolzano), or no route number at all. I also see that it's very windy and narrow in places; and that there are cable cars to Sass Pordoi and to Marmolada, and maybe to the tops of other mountains.

These are the best sources in English I've seen:

zainoo.com/en/…great-dolomites-road

http://www.thegreatdolomiteroad.co.uk/

This is the only route map I can find, but it's very small. It does have the modern route numbers of the various stretches, if you have a magnifying glass.

www.linktour.it/Itinerari/Itinerario.asp…

I didn't search very hard, but if you search for Great Dolomites Road, or Grande Strada delle Dolomiti, you may find a map. One of the sites above said it had a map, but the link didn't work.

Mentioned in this post
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Sass Pordoi
Sass Pordoi
268 Reviews
Canazei, Italy
Marmolada
Marmolada
524 Reviews
Rocca Pietore, Italy
Montelparo, Italy
Level Contributor
2,458 posts
470 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

It is hard to judge which one is the most scenic. You could go through 1) the Val d'Ega via Nova Levante-Vigo di Fassa then Moena, the Val San Pellegrino-Falcade-Cencenighe-Alleghe-Andraz-Passo Falzarego

2) the Val Gardena and Val Badia via Ortisei- Selva-Colfosco-Corvara-La Villa-Passo Falzarego

3) The Val di Funes and Passo delle Erbe via St. Maddalena-Antermoia continuing to San Lorenzo di Sebato - Brunico - San Candido and Sesto. The n. 2 is the easiest to drive and the most trafficated compared to the other two. The N. 3 is the most difficult to drive (the motor bikers love it) but it is breath taking with the Puez-Odle group, Plan de Corones and the Val di Sesto. We drove to all this routes less Corones and Sesto, and advise to drive the n. 3 only with small cars and good weather. In terms of difficulty the N. 1 is between the other two and has more places for gourmands on the way.

Mentioned in this post
Vigo
Vigo
Province of Pontevedra, Spain
Moena
Moena
Province of Trento, Italy
Val Gardena
Val Gardena
1,948 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Ortisei
Ortisei
Val Gardena, Italy
Colfosco
Colfosco
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Passo Falzarego
Passo Falzarego
149 Reviews
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
Brunico
Brunico
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
San Candido
San Candido
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Sesto
Sesto
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Plan
Plan
300 Reviews
Trento, Italy
Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,725 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

None of those three seems to be the road Purple is asking about. Number 3 doesn't seem to be a straight route at all.

Montelparo, Italy
Level Contributor
2,458 posts
470 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

read the main post again Bulenci...

Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
429 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Dear Bvlenci and Aussies11. Thank you to the both of you so very much for your kind verifications and suggestions. Much appreciated :-).

Bvlenci - yes, it is "The Great Dolomites Road" (La Grande Strada delle Dolomiti) that I had in mind. Just didn't know the correct name and hence, of course, no correct suggestions came up when searching the internet. Thanks for the 3 links - they are indeed helpful. The first link gives a brief description of the route, the second one is truly "nerdy" and down to the tiniest details and linked with historic notes and old postcard photos hence, one really should have no trouble in finding the right roads having studied same more carefully - and the third link indeed includes a tiny map, which I have converted into a picture and gotten into a readable size and combined with the above info add to a firm picture of the old historic road, which I understand dates back to 1909 when these remote valleys and tiny villages were linked for the very first time. So, should anyone ask the same question again, the route should read as follows, I think:

Bolzano (Rd 241)-Nova Levante-Karer Pass-Vigo di Fassa (Rd 48)-Canazei-Pordoi Pass-Arabba-Andraz-Col di Lana Pass-diFalzarego Pass-Pocol-Cortina d'Amepzzo.

Aussies11: Thank you for your 3 different suggestions. They do all sound great too. Your alternative no. 1 comes very close to the old original "Great Dolomites Road" with the first and last sections being the same. You seem, however, to deviate in Vigo di Fassa and do a more Southern route by Rd. 346 via Moena, Val san Pellegrino-Falcade and then Rd 203 via Alleghre to Andraz, where you meet the original route again. On my map indeed a very tiny yellow zig-zagging mountain road, that no doubt is extremely beautiful too. So that's indeed another option. Your alternative no. 2 seems to cover some of the major famous Italian ski-areas and once again is a fine alternative taking a more Northern route but joining the old route at it's very last section across the Falzarego Pass. Your alternative No. 3 seems more to be a beautiful day excursion out of Cortina d'Ampezzo as brings you quite a bit up North to the Brixen-Lienz mainroad, so guess it won't work for us having only one single day at our disposal and having to start out in Bolzano - but thanks for the good tip, should we once get the opportunity for more days in the lovely Dolomites.

Now is only for me/us to determine which of the suggested routes to follow as they all seem to cover such beautiful areas and all including zig-zagging high altitude roads with pass crossings and tiny villages. So guess the one is as scenic as the other - but we are tempted to try out the original old route, which does likewise have a lot of history linked to it. Tough decisions :-). But at least, I do now have the correct name and route of the historic "Great Dolomites Road" verified. So again - thank you so very much to the both of you for having taken the time to assist me. Wishing you a good evening and all the best.

Kind regards - PURPLE

Mentioned in this post
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Vigo
Vigo
Province of Pontevedra, Spain
Canazei
Canazei
Province of Trento, Italy
Arabba
Arabba
381 Reviews
Arabba, Italy
Lana
Lana
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Moena
Moena
Province of Trento, Italy
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Province of Belluno, Italy
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Province of Trento
Level Contributor
4,247 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Hi PURPLE,

First, there's no need to drive the exact "Great Dolomites Road". The passes and scenery are amazing in the entire area. Even though the distance seems relatively short, the driving time will be so much longer. While the roads are excellent, they are quite time consuming. Our favorite mountain drive is the Gardena Pass, between the Val Gardena and the Alta Badia.

Just some thoughts:

Me, to start this trip I'd drive from Bolzano to Val Gardena on the A22. Drive the Gardena Pass into Colfosco/Coravara. Here, either go south over the Campolongo Pass - Livinallongo area - north on the Falzarego Pass - to Cortina. At the "start/end" of the Falzarego Pass is an excellent cable car trip, the Lagazoui. Right on the main road and quick to the top. If pressed for time this is quick and easy.

OR

at Livinallongo, head further to Selva di Cadore area and take the Giau Pass and you'll be very close to Cortina.

Just some ideas. No matter what the route, the Dolomites are very impressive.

This site has info and photo's of the Dolomite Passes:

www.alpineroads.com/dolomites.php

We have our own photo's at:

worldisround.com/articles/355539/index.html

worldisround.com/articles/324504/index.html

worldisround.com/articles/351565/index.html

Paul

Mentioned in this post
Gardena Pass
Gardena Pass
173 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Val Gardena
Val Gardena
1,948 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Alta Badia
Alta Badia
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Colfosco
Colfosco
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
429 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Dear Pja60 - thanks so very much for your suggestions and for sharing your lovely photos with us. But, piew, decisions are getting toucher as all the suggested routes do just look so tempting :-). Wish we had more time available, so that we could try out more of them and not have to choose just a single one..., however, if I read you correctly and also suggested by Aussies11, you think that the Val Gardenia is a better choice than Val d*Egga? And the Gardena Pass more beautiful than the Poidoi Pass and that the Giau Pass is more fascinating than the Falzarego Pass? As it seems to me, that these are the choices, we shall have to make?

PS: If we choose the Val Gardenia, where would you leave the freeway A22 to commence the zig-zagging? Is Kastelruth the right place - or even further up like in i.e. Klausen? Seems likewise, that one can leave A22 very early too and drive via Blumau and Seis, is that any good idea?

Yes, we do realize that zig-zagging the little mountain roads are indeed very time consuming. Normally, we'll anticipate driving an average of 30 km per hour once climbing and decending these roads. Do you agree? So no matter what road we may choose we are talking about a minimum of 4-5 hrs. actual driving time? And suppose driving the Val d'Ega version will be the longest and hence most time consuming one? Have you been driving the entire area (seeing you are Destination Expert for the area?

Thanks again for having taken the time to write me/us. All the best - PURPLE

Mentioned in this post
Gardena Pass
Gardena Pass
173 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Province of Trento
Level Contributor
4,247 posts
31 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Hi PURPLE,

Starting with the last question:

I would exit at the Val Gardena exit on the A22. It may also be the Klausen/Chiusa exit along with the Val Gardena. It's posted.

We did leave the A22 early after leaving Bolzano last time and thought it was a big mistake. The drive seemed to take forever via Castelrotto, Seis, etc., the scenery was just ok. No dramatic mountain scenery.

These are simply my (well, my wife and I) opinions:

The Gardena Pass is tops in the area. The Giau Pass... the approach from Cortina to the "top" of the pass was ok, lots of woods, etc. We drove it from Cortina back to the Alta Badia where we were staying. You'd be driving the opposite direction. The other side (the side you would approach from) was far more "typical" Dolomite Pass driving and scenery. We really enjoyed spending some time at the cafe and walking around the area here.

The main reasons I suggested the A22 to the Val Gardena are that you'd be in the midst of the Dolomites quickly and the Gardena Pass is amazing. I think this would maximize your time driving and being "in" the Dolomites. It should also allow you plenty of time for the quick to the top Lagazoui cable car trip. Even the road heading from the A22 into the Val Gardena is nice. I'll never forget our first trip and finally seeing the amazing limestone peaks showing themselves as we haeded into the Val Gardena.

Yes, we've driven extensively in this area of the Dolomites.

Paul

Mentioned in this post
Val Gardena
Val Gardena
1,948 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Castelrotto
Castelrotto
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Gardena Pass
Gardena Pass
173 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Alta Badia
Alta Badia
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
429 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Thank you again so very much Paul for reverting to us. Your comments are highly appreciated. One thing is looking at a map - another is having been driving the roads yourselves, hence your imputs are very valuable to us. And this is why this TripAdvisor Community is so unique. We'll absolutely consider driving via The Gardena Pass. Thanks for taking the time to have responded to this question and have a good day.

All the best PURPLE

Mentioned in this post
Gardena Pass
Gardena Pass
173 Reviews
Selva di Val Gardena, Italy
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
429 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Route Bolzano-Cortina d'Ampezzo via "The Grand Italian Road"

Once again, thank you all for your various suggestions and info. We have now returned safely from our holiday and I should like to give you a brief feedback. Firstly, let me say - we had the best of times blessed with perfect weather with a high blue sky and lots of sunshine. Secondly, the route(s) we did finally choose were living up to all of our expectations and provided us with lovely and breathtaking scenery. I'm writing routes in plural, as we enjoyed the area so much that we altered our plans for the next day in order to re-drive some of the stretches and include a lacking section of The Great Dolomites Road - as yes, we managed to do all of it and more to!

Our final route day 1:

Bolzano-Val d'Ega-Nova Levante-Karersee/Lago di Carezza (walk)-Vigo di Fasso by SS241

North on SS48 to Canazei and a bit further catching SS242 across Passo di Sella to Plan de Gralba

Right on SS243 across Passo di Gardena to Corvara.

South on SP244 across Passo Campolongo to Arraba

In Arraba re-joining SS48 East via Andraz and Passo Falzarego to Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Our route day 2:

Backtracking East across Passo Falzarego and Andraz by SS48 to Arabba.

Backtracking North on SP244 across PassoCampolongo to Corvara.

Backtracking West on SS243 to Colfosco (gondola), across Passo di Gardena to Plan de Gralba..

Backtracking South on SS242 to just North of Canazei.

Then re-catching SS48 and drive the lacking Grand Dolomite stretch across Passo Pordoi to Arabba.

Backtracking Arabba-Cortina d'Ampezzo on SS48.

That made us do the entire old route of the Grand Dolomite Road plus exploring SS242 across the Sella Pass. Backtracking the major part of the mountain section the following day didn't make it less interesting, as driving in the opposite direction gives you totally new views, which we enjoyed thoroughly. It was two amazing days and drives through very varied and beautiful sceneries from the soft green meadows over rocky Mountains to the barren high altitude landscapes. Mixed with picturesque flowerclad wooden houses, clear mountain streams and soaring snowcapped peaks! Loved each and everyone of the stretches.

To break the driving we stopped at the Karersee on day 1 to hike around the lake that is sooo beautiful with its emerald color against the dark sprucetrees and the grey/white mountain peaks resembling the famous Canadian lakes. It's a good place for just a photostop, a lunch break or an easy hike all the way around the lake. A second stop we made following the crossing of Passo di Gardena to enjoy the rolling green pastures of the downroll with lots of availabilities for short hikes or just a coffee break. On day 2 we stopped in Colfosco to take the lovely little gondola "Plans-Frara" that brings you over the green meadows and high to a mountain hut, from where you can do hikes of all sorts of lengths or just relax at the hut with a meal or refeshment. On this day we did also pause at the Passo Pordoi to enjoy a picnic-lunch in the most beautiful setting.

It's difficult to say, which of the stretches and passes that are the most beautiful - as they are indeed so very diffirent. But asked we would say that Passo di Gardena is the most pretty combining the high altitude scenery with the long roll down through green meadows. Most impressive was, however, the Sella Pass, where you seem to drive right into the sky and you get very close to the granite domes. Finally, we must admit that we did also enjoy very much the less known Passo Campolongo - or rather the entire stretch of that road (Corvara-Arabba) due to its soft green and very picturesque scenery. The Val d'Ega surprised us likewise with it's beauty and the unexpected breathtaking Karersee, so we were glad that we chose to take this Southern route starting out right from the Northern part of Bolzano, as it shouldn't be missed. We do know that the Val Gardenia is truly beautiful too - but we just couldn't find a way to squeeze that section in, but apart from same, we covered the entire area we had set out for thoroughly and loved each moment. Hence we can greatly recommend anyone to follow the routes we have driven!

All the best - PURPLE

Mentioned in this post
Bolzano
Bolzano
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Vigo
Vigo
Province of Pontevedra, Spain
Canazei
Canazei
Province of Trento, Italy
Plan
Plan
300 Reviews
Trento, Italy
Passo Falzarego
Passo Falzarego
149 Reviews
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
Arabba
Arabba
381 Reviews
Arabba, Italy
Colfosco
Colfosco
Province of South Tyrol, Italy
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Province of Belluno, Italy