Dolomites: 6 spots in 6 pics
In the Alto Adige everyone is abroad, even the people who live there. The Alto Adige (“Upper Adige” after its most famous river) is the Italian name for the South Tyrol, where long, deep mountain valleys, dense forests, bubbling rivers and still, cold lakes spread across the landscape, guarded everywhere by the pink-grey walls of the Dolomites. It was Austrian but became part of Italy after the First World War when the two countries fought a bleak and merciless battle across its mountain terrain. But becoming part of another country doesn’t change the habits of centuries. This is Western Europe’s melting heart where the cultures of Austria and Italy are inextricably mixed, plus a third element: the Ladin people who settled in its valleys long before nationalist aspirations claimed them, and whose language is still widely spoken.
As a result the towns and villages often have three names, German, Italian and Ladin. Reading the road signs can be a lengthy business. This is an area of Italy as different from the Neapolitan south as, say, Hamburg is from Nice, a corner of Europe that in summer the vacationistas rarely reach. It’s a beautiful secret, as those who escape there know only too well. Italy’s Dolomites provide visitors a stunning account of natural beauty and endless adventure. They consist of picturesque villages, rolling green pastures and steep mountain trails with breathtaking views. Traveling to the Dolomites can at first seem overwhelming, given the size and expanse of the area, so it’s a good idea to prepare a list of things to do ahead of time so you get the most out of your trip. However given the size of the Dolomite range, the 18 peaks cover 350.000 acres, it can be tough to figure out exactly where to go! Here are six of our favorite spots in the Dolomites of Italy, in pictures.
Want to see some spectacular views…by car? Then don’t miss the Sass Pordoi, a pass between the Sella and Marmolada groups of Dolomite mountains. At 2.240 mt, this pass is the highest (surfaced) road through a pass in the Dolomites. For even more gorgeous views, you can take a cable car up from the pass to the summit. And, of course, there are plenty of hiking trails!
Parco Naturale Adamello-Brenta
Some of the prettiest hiking and scenery is in the Brenta grouping of the Dolomites, located just northwest of Trento. The most famous trail here, Via Bocchetta di Tuckett, is for serious mountaineers only, harnesses and ropes required! However, easier walking paths and mountain biking are abundant here, too.
Drive to the northern half of Lake Garda, and you won’t only leave the tourist crowds behind, you’ll enter the Dolomite mountain range. Enjoy the spectacular views, explore the tiny towns dotting the lake, and relax at a vista like this one. No mountaineering required!
Belluno and the Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi
The ancient town of Belluno, with 37.000 inhabitants, is the most important town in the eastern Dolomites. It’s also a lovely town to make your base. It’s especially easy to drive from there to the Parco Nazionale Dolomiti Bellunesi, a fantastic reserve that includes glaciers, waterfalls, forests, even a number of art, history and archaeology museums!
Located in the center of the Dolomites, the four peaks of the Cristallo group reach up to almost 3.350 mt. The group can be explored by cable car or mountaineering, and there’s skiing here, too!
Whether you’re a skier, snowbunny or fashionista, Cortina d’Ampezzo is the place to be in the Dolomites in the winter. This fashionable resort, located in the heart of the Dolomites, doesn’t just have fantastic skiing, it has some serious history. This is where the 1956 Olympics were held, where the famed James Bond film sequence of gunners chasing Roger Moore on skis in “For Your Eyes Only” was filmed, and where both Audrey Hepburn and Ernest Hemingway vacationed.
Where to stay
The elegant five-star Tenne Lodges stands proudly in the Racines Valley, enveloped between breathtaking views and snowy Alpine mountains. The landscape is that of a real winter wonderland. However the Racines Valley is a hub of activity year-round. Whether hiking through town in your ski boots to hit the slopes in winter or gearing up for a hiking trip during the summer, there is always something to do in the mountains. A place where you want to relax with a mug of hot chocolate and your slippers on. The interior is decorated with a mixture of modern-design furniture and colorful fabrics, cushions and fluffy stools. It offers a traditional mountain ambience, a luxury ambience carved in wood, thought in each detail, never intrusive, all perfectly combined to offer a great place where to stay in the Dolomites. Tenne Lodges provides 35 lodges, each with an exquisite chalet feeling, lavish furnishings, lovely pieces as well as balconies with a lovely view. Bathrooms are lavish as well in design with deep soaking tub or spacious showers and bespoke amenities. The end result is newly-created rooms that provide the perfect synergy between grand hotel style and modern Alpine living. It’s incredibly peaceful, almost silent, and the still mountains and ever changing colors of the sky create a multitude of photo-worthy moments. The dining experience is perfectly suited for the stay at the hotel. The spa is a state of the art wellness and fitness dream. The facilities are exceptional: sauna, pool, treatments and plenty of lounge beds to relax on.