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Stage 16

Livigno > Santa Cristina Val Gardena/St. Christina in Gröden (Monte Pana)

Starting in Livigno

After a well-deserved rest day, the Pink Caravan hits the road again in Livigno, heading towards the Dolomites. If for the cyclists it was an opportunity to pull the plug a bit in view of the decisive week of the race, the same cannot be said for the fans, who in Livigno found a full programme of events - sporting, gastronomic and musical – with no room for boredom.
However, it's time to get going again. At the 2,498 metres of the Umbrail Pass, the seemingly endless descent into the Vinschgau begins. Make sure you use your brakes well, as the temptation to go full speed can be seriously strong. The magnificent village of Glorenza, completely surrounded by solid walls, demands a stop. Strolling through the alleys of the centre between arcades and palaces that are as old as they are well-preserved is nothing short of moving. Everything here is as real as it once was.

Orchards and museums

Back on the road, we travel along long stretches of apple orchards, the jewel in the crown of Vinschgau and South Tyrolean agricultural production. Vineyards dominate the area around the town of Merano. A stop at some of the wine cellars for some fine zero-kilometre bottles is a must. Just as, shortly afterwards, it is the market stalls overflowing with the renowned Terlan asparagus, loved by gourmets.
Bolzano is one of those cities that makes you want to stay forever; from Roncolo Castle, the painted manor house, to Firmian Castle, clearly visible before entering the city and home to the Messner Mountain Museum, to the mummy of Otzi preserved in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology and the Museion contemporary art collections. After enjoying the sumptuous atmospheres of Walther Square, the South Tyrolean capital's historic salon, we head back into the Dolomites. Let’s admire the mighty Presule Castlen in Fié allo Scilliar, then the ancient world of Castelrotto, from where, almost brushing against the walls of the Sciliar, we reach the town of Ortisei in Val Gardena: this is the land of the master wood carvers whose skill is celebrated at the Museum Gherdeina and exhibited in the windows of the ateliers overlooking the pedestrian streets of the old town centre.

Climbing Monte Pana

Santa Cristina Valgardena is just a little further up the valley. It can also be reached on foot or by bike by following the route of an old railway and then stopping to admire the world's largest hand-carved crib set up at the Iman Sports Centre. The statues are life-size and new ones are added on a regular basis.
However, it is the Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage Site, that represent the real highlight of Santa Cristina. The world's most famous mountains can be admired up close from the Mastlé Panoramic Balcony, located at the top station of the Col Raiser cable car at an altitude of 2200 metres, or from Monte Pana, where the stage finish is located. The Sassolungo, the Sella and the Odle will never leave your eyes and heart.

I know them all!