An amazing loop visiting the ruins of the Botestagno Castle which rose on the namesake steep crag, 6 km north of Cortina. The way up is along the cycling trail as far as the confluence of the Felizon stream with the Boite river, the way back rides along the bottom of the valley across the spectacular meadows of Pian de Loa.
Suggested period: Daily from May 20th to September 17th
Suggested departure time: 10.30 a.m.
Grade: uphill 3/10, downhill 4/10
Elevation gain: 300 m
Elevation loss: 300 m
Length: 22 km
Estimated time: 3 hours
Physical effort: Mild, basic MTB skill level is required
Suggested minimum age: 14
Take the bike path heading north, after 5 km ride past the beautiful former railroad switch house at Fiames, on your left. Farther on, you will pass through the charming Pezzovico tunnel, with its typical pear-like shape (to allow steam locomotives pass through) and over the iron bridge on the Felizon torrent.
After the second tunnel, turn left uphill, it is worth a stop here to admire the wide deep canyon carved by the Felizon stream.
Continue riding uphill as far as you meet the state road to Dobbiaco; keep left, without crossing the road, and take the forest road up to Botestagno fortress rising over the confluence of the Boite and Felizon torrents (1513 m).
Park there and lock your bike, the last stretch uphill is on foot.
The excavation works, to unearth the ruins of the old Castle, have been recently completed and a headstone has been laid to commemorate the conquest of the castle by Maximilian I of Hapsburg that marked the beginning of the Austrian domination over Cortina.
The sweeping views from the top of the crag are spectacular.
Walk down on the same path, get your bike and ride back to the state road that you will cross thanks to the underpass (bumpy stretch).
Ride behind the former roadsman’s house (ANAS) and down the beautiful little road that intersects the road to Malga Ra Stua at St. Hubertus. It is worth a stop to read the story of the namesake mansion that was erected on the hilltop in the vicinity of the parking lot.
Go straight and descend along the dirt road towards Pian de Loa (1360 m). Beyond the bridge on the Boite river, the woods open unto a wonderful clearing overlooked by the Cason (hut) of Pian de Loa. Continue as far as the paved road.
Time for a picnic: turn right and shortly you get to the little bridge across Rio Fanes. Just before the bridge, there is a small trail on your right leading to a wonderful picnic area by the running stream.
The way back is along the paved road heading south as far as the information office of the Park of the Ampezzo Dolomites.
From Capoverde, head south along the dirt road, keep left at all the junctions and watch out for the underpass on your left to cross state road 51 to Dobbiaco. Alternatively you may continue straight for further 700 m to reach the Fiames hotel, renowned for its grilled sandwiches.
Follow the nice path through the woods just above Fiames sports centre and take the slightly uphill road on the left, follow the signs to Cortina to join the cycling path.
Did you know that…
The Fortress of Botestagno is also known as Podestagno, from German “Peutelstein” meaning “the fortress on the Boite river” The castle rose on the namesake steep crag over the Boite valley to the north of Cortina in the Prà del Castel (meadows of the castle). Today only a few ruins are left.
The castle was erected in a strategic position to control the confluence of three valleys: the Boite, Fanes, and Felizon valleys.
The Lombards were the first to build a wooden sentry between the VII and VIII centuries. The first stone structure dates back to the year 1000. Later on, the story of the castle follows the historic events of the Ampezzo valley. At first, it was in the hands of the Patriarch of Aquileia, then was given to the Counts of Camino until it was acquired by Venice and finally, conquered by the Hapsburg.
In 1783, the castle of Botestagno was acquired by the Municipality of Ampezzo. By then, the fortress had lost its strategic importance since alternative communication routes towards Austria and the Pusteria valley had been opened.
The fortress was abandoned and only a few ruins are left.
Ristorante Fiames (Loc. Fiames 13) 0039 0436 2366