East to West through the Dolomites: Part 1 The Val Pesarina

Published on:  | Last updated: 29 March 2017

The Lago di Misurina with the Tre Cime di Laveredo in the distance

The Lago di Misurina with the Tre Cime di Laveredo in the distance

This section of the route in takes you from the Friulian Dolomites through the Val Pesarina and crosses into the Veneto over the Sella Ciampigotto (1790m). It’s a long, but not steep climb. The ride takes you through some lovely Friulian villages. The highlight is the village of Pesariis. For four centuries Pesariis has been a centre and the town is home to a museum and a fascin­ating collection of time-keeping devices which you can admire as you walk around.

After Pesariis the road is one of the wilder and quieter roads in the Dolomites with nothing until you reach the rifugio at the pass. The road that descends down from the past is one of the wildest I came across in the whole of the Dolomites.

At the bottom of the hill the route joins the Grande Strada delle Dolomiti. The road was built in the early twentieth century with the aim of opening the Dolomites for tourism. It heads through the lakeside resort of Auronzo di Cadore. There’s a steady 26-kilometre climb (altitude gain just over 1000 metres) through the woodlands from Auronzo to the Lago di Misurina. From Auronzo you could simply head straight on for Cortina via the Passo di Tre Croce, omitting the detour to the Lago di Misurina and the Tre Cime, but you really would be missing out.

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Start to Pesariis 8 kms
Pesariis - Laggio di Cadore 34 kms
Laggio di Cadore - Auronzo di Cadore 9 kms
Auronzo di Cadore - Misurina 25 kms

Misurina is a mini lakeside resort, and the lake is attractive, but the main reason for coming up here are the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks of Lavaredo). It’s a fairly challenging climb - in fact it will be a stage finish point in this year’s Giro d’Italia (2013). I’d suggest doing it as a day ride without luggage.


I’ve chosen this particular route because of the village of Pescaris, but there are a couple at least another couple of options:

  • head via Forni Avoltri and the Cima Sappada and the village of Sappada. Sappada was settled by German-speaking settlers sometime in the 13th century and their language (Plodn) has survived as a distinctive dialect that preserves many features of the language spoken in the middle ages;
  • via the village and lake at Sauris. This climb is included in the guide produced by the regional tourist author­ities. Sauris, was also settled by the settlers from the same area as Sappada.
Mural - Val Pesarina (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia)

Mural - Val Pesarina (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia)

More information

Places to stay

There are plenty of places to stay in Auronzo and a more limited selection of places at Misurina. I defin­itely recommend the Albergo Giannina in Laggio di Cadore at the bottom of the descent from the Sella di Ciampigotto - good quality and reasonably-priced with helpful owners.

Hotels and B&Bs

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

 About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Hostels and rifugi

There’s a rifugio at the Sella di Ciampigotto (the Rifugio Ten Fabbro) and another at the foot of the Tre Cime (the Rifugio Auronzo), which would be a good base if you wanted to stay a day or two to go walking.


  Map of campsites on the route:  DolomitesEW-campsites-map-show map in overlay    |    DolomitesEW-campsites-map-show map in new window   

Transport and services

Places to eat

There’s a very nice agrit­urismo ("Sot la Napa") at Pesariis, after that there’s nothing until you get to the rifugio at the pass. So it might be worth carrying some food.

Articles in this series

Pesariis: clock/art installation

Pesariis: clock/​art install­ation

Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.

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