After 4 days of painting the living room, I finally escaped and got to ride. I set my alarm for 0500 and left at 0730. I parked at Villa Santina (360 meters) and rode the bike up to Ampezzo (559 meters). Then turned off on the road for Sauris. It snakes up the gorge of Torrente Lumiei, climbs a set of tornanti up to 779 meters, and then starts a series of tunnels. They are paved with small porphyry blocks, but are no problem to climb. Between tunnels are beautiful views of Lumiei gorge, particularly at Ponte Lumiei- a high bridge resembling Bixby Bridge near Big Sur. At 981 meters the last tunnel ends at Lago di Sauris, a beautiful emerald green lake surrounded by mountains.
Now a steep stretch with 11 tornanti carries you up to Sauris di Sotto (or Dörf in German) at 1200 meters- beautiful green pastureland, houses with wooden balconies covered in flowers. Above Dörf 2 Italian ladies were taking a passeggiata and spurred me on with "Buone gambe!" Soon you reach Sauris di Sopra, the highest town in Friuli at 1395 meters (Zahre in German). The road mellows out a bit then reaches the start of the 7 tornanti at 1500 meters. These are a nice steady 7-8% with beautiful panoramas, until the last 2 switchbacks, which get steep- I had to stand for these 2.
The top at 1800 meters is an altopiano with wildflowers, stupendous views of the surrounding peaks. I had a snack and enjoyed the view. I then began the 1270 meter descent- a 27 km twisty cruise through fir forest and Val Peserina. Really gorgeous ride. I'd love to ride it in the opposite direction soon.
There were quite a few cyclists on this road, (as opposed to zero on the ascent). One bike team or club were spread up and down the road for quite a ways, with the team van hanging with the largest group.
Numerous waterfalls tumbled down the gorge walls toward the Pesarina. Very peaceful place.
At Ovaro I joined the road following Torrente Degano down to Villa Santina. Wonderful ride- if you're ever in the area give it a try.
Baby asino napping in the sun with his family
Wildflower close up