Camping in the Dolomites: Winding roads and spectacular views

»Do you want to go camping?« – »No.«- »Fine, so we’ll go just for three days, not four.«  The conversation with my hubbs ran something along these lines when we were deciding where to spend an extended weekend in August. So it was agreed – or at least that’s how I understood it – we’re going camping to the Dolomites. I thought it was a good compromise.

After our last camping attempt my husband complained that he doesn’t see any point in staying at crowded campsites. Therefore I decided that this time we would only use motorhome stops to stay for the night. They are the closest thing to free camping and the best way to test how we would fare without the modern campsite infrastructure (like electricity, showers and WiFi). As an added benefit, this could be some kind of a »fit and proper« test to assess whether our planned two-week camping trip in New Zealand will be a disaster in the making or not.

Italy, as it turned out, is perfect in this regard. It’s full of motorhome stops which they call »sosta camper«, many of them free of charge. And if they are full (as they usually are in August) nobody will complain if you park at the nearest free spot even if it’s not designated for campers, as long as you move in the morning.

After our trip it took me a couple of weeks trying to put into words the overwhelming beauty of the Dolomites that never cease to dumbfound me. But I give up so here’s a quick photographic recap instead.

4 curves – that was just the beginning. We spent three days slowly crawling up and down winding roads, never switching into fourth gear. But the views made up for every single curve.

Winding roads in the Dolomites

Auronzo was our first stop – initially just to shoot some photos in the beautiful evening light.


A single pizza made us change our plans – in the light of spontaneity that camper travel enables we decided to stay for the night.

Eating pizza in Auronzo

The next morning we joined hordes of Italian tourists on our hike from Tre Croci pass up to the Sorapis Lake. I should have known better than to plan our weekend getaway around ferragosto…

Hikers on their way to Lago Sorapis

Regardless of the crowds, the lake was pretty impressive, to say the least.

Lago Sorapis

To escape the crowds we had to drive up to the Tre Cime Lavaredo camper stop at 2300 metres above sea level. The view made it worthwhile – reason enough to pop a bottle of champagne don’t you agree?

Motorhome stop at Rifugio Auronzo

Watching the sun set and the moon rise – can you think of better evening entertainment program?

Sunset at Rifugio Auronzo

Moon over the Dolomites

There should be a big blank space here. Despite my best intentions to get up in the middle of the night and shoot some stars I was just too tired. I watched them from my bed though…

Off we went on another hike around the Tre Cime peaks.

Tre Cime

From Tre Cime we drove back to Auronzo and over another pass to Sauris. Did I mention the roads were narrow and curvy?

Narrow roads in the Dolomites

Our next neighbour in Sauris.

Grazing horse in Sauris

If the sign says anything about “degustazione” or “probieren” you know where to find us.

Cheese and prosciuto tasting

Almost all houses in Sauris are part of a hotel, called “albergo diffuso” (literally scattered hotel). One of the most unique ones I’ve ever seen.

We ended our trip in the tiny village of Lateis, sampling local cheeses and cheese based dishes at the annual – you guessed it – cheese festival.

Tasting local food in Lateis

Festa di formaggio Sauris

Did we enjoy our trip? Depends on who you ask. I loved waking up to another jaw dropping view every morning.

Mr. Grumpy-in-the-morning on the other hand took some time getting accustomed to it.

20160813-Dolomiti (34 of 311)

But one thing is sure. Now that we’ve mastered curves (hubby driving, me not screaming at every single one) we’re ready for the next challenge: driving on the left. New Zealand, here we come!


Motorhome stops:

Auronzo di Cadore
GPS: N 46.56104,  E 12.41846
Cost: 18 EUR per night

Tre Cime di Lavaredo – Rifugio Auronzo
GPS: N 46.61253,  E 12.29378
Cost: 15 EUR per night + 40 EUR road fee

Sauris di Sopra
GPS: N 46.46803,  E 12.68056
Cost: free of charge