Dolomites charming villages
In this most beautiful of the Alpine range, a Unesco Natural World Heritage Site since 2009, your spirits will be set free and you will be overwhelmed by the force of nature.
To enjoy the Dolomites you have to walk. You can put on your boots and hike the high mountains or gently follow the paths through the meadows and forests that bring you to idyllic farms, reaching tranquil benches ideal for relax, pausing at one of the mountain huts, lolling in the sun with a glass of weissbier, admiring the colours of the summits that intensify into a vivid red at sunset. An exceptional standard of hotels will introduce you to the cuisine of this unique meeting point between the Italian and Austrian culinary and cultural traditions.
You will be enchanted. The Dolomites walking season runs from approximately mid June to the beginning of October.
DAY 1 – ORTISEI/SANTA CRISTINA/SELVA VAL GARDENA
Gardena Valley, the most famous and attractive valley amongst the Italian Dolomites offers picturesque villages that are worth a visit. ORTISEI, SANTA CRISTINA and SELVA DI VAL GARDENA, embedded in green idyllic nature surrounded by impressive mountain scenery, are just a few examples of really interesting places to have an unforgettable stay, with beautiful nature and a wide variety of art and culture. The steep rocks of Sasso Lungo and the imposing Sella Mountain Massif are symbols of the valley and await nature-lovers and mountaineers alike. Gardena valley is known everywhere in the world for wood carving, once only a pastime activity that over the years reached international fame thanks to the professional sculptor works. Try the tempting variety of culinary delicacies, such as Kaiserschmarr’n, a light batter pudding served with plum compote, beloved of the Emperor Franz Joseph, an Austrian delicacy that now belongs naturally to the Italian villages.
DAY 2 – CORVARA/ARABBA
We are entering now the enchanting Badia Valley, that surrounds the Monte Marmolada, also nicknamed ‘Queen of the Dolomites’, (3,342m; 10,965ft), and the enormous alpenstock of the Sella mountain group. We’ll visit CORVARA, the cradle of tourism in High Badia Valley, with lifts that take you easily to high altitudes with incomparable panoramas, its first class cuisine and culture of well-being with cutting-edge beauty centres. And then ARABBA with its old mill, naturally working, where for centuries the people of Arabba had ground rye and barley, an evidence of past generations and a mechanical masterpiece with its sculpted wooden gears.
DAY 3 – CORTINA D’AMPEZZO
We drive on a panoramic road that reaches Passo Falzarego: (2,100m; 6,900ft). Here modern cable cars and chair lifts take you to 2,800 metres of altitude in a few minutes, treating you to the terraces of the refuges which offer a fantastic view of the Dolomites, besides being ideal places for refreshment. We reach then the exclusive CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, a popular destination for walkers, climbers and cyclists, that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1956. Cortina has just about the best shop you’d ever find and the jet set is always out in force.
DAY 4 – DOBBIACO
We venture into the Sesto National Park and hike around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the most famous mountains in the Dolomites, in a complete circuit of the breathtakingly beautiful, world famous symbol of the UNESCO heritage site. We enter then in the German-speaking Pusteria Valley that lies on the sunny side of the Alps and is extremely popular with nature lovers and hikers. DOBBIACO is considered the gate to the Dolomites and bears a particular natural jewel, the Lake of Dobbiaco, where composer Gustav Mahler spent his summer holidays. Still today the Gustav Mahler Music Week takes place as tribute to the great composer.
DAY 5 – BRUNICO
From the parking area, take an easy ninety-minute circular walk around the Braies Lake, the Pearl of the Dolomite Lakes, where the reflection of the Croda del Becco in the lake is simply fantastic. After a short visit to BRUNICO and its castles, we leave the Pusteria Valley to Bressanone, located in the heart of South Tyrol and immersed in the wide valley basin of the Isarco Valley: it combines Medieval-Baroque atmosphere with fascinating alpine world. We’ll stop in one of the typical taverns for a glass of wine.
DAY 6 – BOLZANO
BOLZANO, chief town of South Tyrol, once city of merchants, is today a city of encounter between two cultures, a meeting of Gothic central Europe and Mediterranean, with churches, monuments, historical squares, museums and castles. The “Portici” is the paradise of the shopping, the cafeterias offer irresistible strudel with fresh cream and in the castles around we can savour wines “beneath the stars”. We can comfortably visit Bolzano by BOBUS, the tourist shuttle service, which takes you on a discovery tour of the most characteristic parts of the city. Absolutely worth a visit is the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology: fascinating Ice Man Oetzi came to light in 1991 at a glacier’s edge between Italy and Austria: a fully-clothed, fully-equipped mummy, providing a glimpse of the clothes and technical abilities of the late Neolithic Age (3,300 to 3,100 B.C.). He is kept in the refrigeration chamber and conserved at a temperature of -6º C and 98% air humidity. Scientific research made it clear that the Iceman was approx. 45 years of age and suffered from arthritis, and assume that Oetzi was fatally wounded by an arrow.
DAY 7 – MERANO/APPIANO
Something to look forward to in your holidays is well-being in a very artistically designed building, the Thermal Baths of MERANO: appreciate the clear, curative air and the mild Mediterranean climate of this health resort in South Tyrol, a special place for regaining energy, for reinvigorating or simply for relaxing all your senses, with 25 pools, 8 saunas and steam baths, fitness centre in an impressive thermal landscape. The longest arcade of South Tyrol can be found in Merano with a number of shops, cafes and restaurants this lively street. The historical village of Tirolo invites you to take a rest in the heart of this holiday region, with its majestic castle: once inhabited by the Rulers of Tirolo who dominated over the entire region, nowadays it still thrones high above the village unaffected by the ravages of time. A quick visit to APPIANO, in the land of castles and wine, located along the South Tyrolean Wine Route will close our tour.