The landscape around the Hotel Savoia (which we highly recommend) is positively lunar as the sun rises. We are greeted by fog burning off outside, and a surprise guest inside – a fully-dressed Harley has joined us in the garage overnight. The garage functions as a ski rack in the winter time, when the mountains are covered with white stuff and skiers descend on them like flies on pigs. The openness to motorcycle tourism came about as the thousands of small guesthouses in the Alps discovered that the “off season” can also be profitable – riders flock to the passes as long as they are open, and with open wallets. Breakfast at the Savoia is well-covered, and we can’t say enough about this overnight, it will define accomodations for us for the remainder of the trip.
We head out on SR48 and rejoin SS242 to go back over Passo Sella, this time with less traffic. The mountain views are breathtaking and we spend plenty of time checking out the peaks that bring so much fame to Sella.
From Sella, we stay on the SS242 west to Ponte Gardena, where we pick up SS12 heading south to Bolzano. We join SS22 and find the three guys from the train and cows – some honking and waving and total shock that we actually did meet up go on. West of Bolzano, we pick up SS42 to Passo Mendola. The approach to Passo Mendola is one of the most striking stretches we ride, with a stunning view of the valley below. For a long stretch, the narrow road clings to the side of the rockface and the mood is entirely surreal. The final group of tornante bring us to the town of Roen at the top of the pass, where we stop for coffee and to admire the views.
In Fondo, we tank up (250.3kms, 750,4km total) and are berated by a Bavarian Ducatisto who wants us to know that there is no passing in Italy. Perhaps he should have told the Italians? We ask him to speak German as his dialect is so thick. We pick up SS238 north to Merano crossing the Passo Palade. I expect more from Merano, the spa no connisseur of spas can miss, but it is quickly past and we are into a transit stage that will take us up and west on SS38 to Prato. We have been riding parts of the Italian Wine Road since Bolzano, admiring the fruit orchards that line the road to within two meters of the fog line. We stop for a quick lunch, then ride on with SS40 and SS41 (becomes 28) to the Ofenpass, where it is actually too warm to remain fully dressed.
We finish the day at the top of the Flüelapass, where we discover Swiss prices. The Flüela Hospiz is as old as the pass and offers timely accomodations. This is a euphemism for out-of-date – we get a room with “washing possibility” – a sink – for 87€ each, including breakfast. Aside from the price and the warning to fully unpack the bikes and bring everything inside for the night, it is uneventful. Dinner is a welcome mix of traditional swiss Röstis and salad.