When the French mineralogist Déodat de Dolomieu in the year 1791 had sent some stone samples to the son of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure who at first had reached the peak of the Mont Blanc, he named that type of stone Dolomit. Since that time, the mountains south of the Pustertal valley are called Dolomite Alps.
Three counties cover the Dolomites that are “interesting” for us as motorbike riders (interesting is the terminology for great grip, outstanding landscape and reams of curves), South Tyrol (ital. Alto Adige), Trentino and Veneto. While the Trentino county in the West only sees some small extensions of the Dolomite Alps and owns as a big highlight Garda lake (ital. Lago di Garda), South Tyrol covers the Dolomite Alps up to the Sella mountain. Everything east of that does belong to the Veneto county.
The western Dolomites are the most know ones with the famous Langkofel mountains, the Schlern rock that is the landmark of South Tyrol, Latemar mountain, the Rosengarten (Rosegarden mountain chain) and the Marmolata (ital. Marmolada). Not to forget the Seiser Alm (Seiser Meadow) and the most known valley - the Eisacktal (Eisack valley) with its famous Brenner pass road, the Eggental (Eggen valley) with the Dolomite Alps Road that runs from Bolzano across the Karerpass to the center of the Dolomites to Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Grodnertal (Gardena valley) up to the Sella mountain and the Passo di Gardena, as well as the Fassatal (Fassa valley) as direct way to other famous Dolomite Alps pass roads, Passo di Rolle, Passo Valles and Passo di San Pellegrino.
The border between South Tyrol in the West and the Veneto in the East runs exactly across the summits of the Pordoijoch (ital. Passo di Pordoi) and the Grodnerjoch (ital. Passo di Gardena). Passo di Falzarego, Passo Giau, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo are located in the Veneto county. Here in Veneto everything is a little bit more Italian, less touristic like in South Tyrol - more original Italian. Whereby in South Tyrol everything and everybody is fully focussed on the tourism industry. The German tourist gets his German beer served, his German news paper the Bildzeitung, his “deutsches Schnitzel” and German television. It is really not easy to find locations and hidden spots to gain access to the real original South Tyrol. But nevertheless - even it is difficult for the people in South Tyrol to speak English, since the second language is Italian, they will do everything to understand your English and serve what ever you prefer to make you feel comfortable.
For that reasons we always try to stay a little bit away from the classical “tourist centers” like Seiser Alm, Val Gardena, Canazei and Arabba or NOT to travel in August, which is the main vacation period in Europe and Italy. In August when Italy is shut down due to summer vacation, the Dolomite Alps roads look like a big parking lot stuffed with busses, campers, cars and the air is muggy and hazy. During that month it is then really a challenge to find a free space in the mountains without tourists and their ghetto blasters and barbecue grills. Best months to see the Dolomites are end of May til mid of July and then during the famous “Toergelen” season in September and Oktober, whereby the October is well known as Indian Summer based on the colored larchs. Then the air is absolutely clear, the streets are nearly empty and the prices low. By the way with the name Toergelen the South Tyrolean means the wine harvest with lots of wine festivals in the region, with outstanding local foot and lots of fun.