Wonders of the Dolomites
Allegedly the most loved mountains in the world, the Dolomites bring a world of charm in the summer. Lovely hamlets, generous nature, a mild climate, fresh air and inviting cuisine: this is your passport to a fairytale. The “rock cathedrals” bring on a world of experiences that go well beyond anybody’s expectations, with sublime sunsets – thanks to the lovely Enrosadira - verdant valleys coloured by flowers in bloom, picturesque masi, blue skies and endless hiking and biking opportunities.
Geology gifted the area with wide-open spaces and amazing vistas: now is the time to rediscover this charming corner of north-eastern Italy.
You can easily become addicted to hiking in the Dolomites, with the tear-inducing beauty of the peaks counterbalanced by the charm and hospitality of appealing mountain huts. There is something to suit all tastes, from easy strolls to demanding hikes. The scenery certainly sets the cinematic tone of the area and you could spend a lifetime hiking the many awe-inspiring trails. Walk the Armentara Meadows Trail in Alta Badia for a gentle meander across sloping meadows, or the Path of the Larches, its trailhead in San Cassiano, for a walk along an inspiring larch-lined path that can be undertaken all year round. The Adolf Munkel Trail in the Odle-Geisler mountain group offers incredible scenery without too much effort. You cannot miss the fabulous Alpe di Siusi – Europe’s largest plateau - and hike from there to Monte Piana to admire the Sassolungo, Rosengarten and Schlern massifs. Ortisei in Val Gardena is the starting point of many-a marvellous hikes: cross to Alpe di Siusi to reach a superb viewpoint, or make your way to Mount Pic for 360° views onto the area. Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Queen of the Dolomites, offers nothing but exceptional hikes: the Giro delle Cinque Torri (tour of five towers) is unique, Sorapiss Lake with its unreal emerald waters is well celebrated and the Fanes Waterfalls are ideal for a leisurely family hike. Adventure seekers will love wild and remote Val Trevenanzes, while children will revel at Lago Ghedina, Malga Federa and the Rifugio Dibona. The many attractive huts provide an excellent backdrop for the adventures of a lifetime: visit one for a spritz – the local favourite aperitif choice – with a view.
Vantage points come aplenty in the Dolomites as the staggering beauty of these potent rock formations leave us speechless. You may take up a photographic tour to discover the ethereal beauty of Val Gardena: you will see what dreams are made of. The Sella Massif and Sassolungo, the symbol of the valley, are best admired from Mount Resciesa, which can be reached hiking along splendid paths or a cable car ride, followed by a short walk.
The Odle Group is also spectacular and is best seen from Mount Seceda – one of the most instagrammed places in the area – a superb viewpoint sitting at 2500m that encompasses the entire valley. An easy cable-car ride or a hike will take you to this prime location. The most ancient church in Val Gardena – San Giacomo – sits above Ortisei and can only be reached on foot with an easy 1-hour hike. Allegedly built in 1181, this is a magic place with astounding views worthy of a picture book. Come to Santa Cristina, between Ortisei and Selva di Val Gardena and then a short hike will take you to the UNESCO Cinema: a panoramic viewpoint onto Sassolungo, Sassopiatto and the Puez Odle Natural Park that is just divine. And this is just for starters: come and see the many sights in this realm of beauty.
Cycling is a tough game, the endless hairpin bends typical of cols in the Dolomites taking their tolls on most riders. And yet, no cyclist worth his or her salt will forego a trip to this magic land. Enter the Sellaronda: a famous ski touring race becomes the playground for exciting adventures on a road bike. Linking four mountain passes - Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella and Gardena – this is the place of legends, with gradients reaching double digits. The Passo Giau from Colle Santa Lucia, Passo Falzarego and Valparola from Andraz are sublime – and tough-going – but the hardest may well be Plan de Corones reaching a gradient of 24%! Cortina hosted the arrival of one Giro d’Italia stage this year – one of the toughest – and the choice is vast: you could reach Dobbiaco via Misurina and Passo Tre Croci, the Tour of Comelico via several passes or the Tour of Badia and Pusteria via – you guessed it! – engaging passes, namely Falzarego, Valparola and Cimabanche.
Mountain bikers can revel at the brand new Bike Beats trails on the Piz Sorega plateau above San Cassiano, purpose-built flow trails graded with various difficulty levels. The Sellaronda MTB tour covers four passes for 58 km of pure adrenaline and exciting views on the Marmolada – the Queen of the Dolomites – and other stunning peaks. The Single Trail Frara above the Gardena Pass runs down to Colfosco, while the Freeride Bike Gardenaccia is a daring bike trail for expert folks, starting in La Villa. From Cortina, trails go along Plan de Raspines, Plan de Loa or the Rifugio Biella. Freeride trails are the 5 Torri, Mietres or the Superpanorama circular route for a ride to remember. Let’s go!
The land of magical atmospheres, potent Ladin legends have always resonated across the region – and inspired many a writer, JR Tolkien being a case in point. You can walk through history with the many themed trails called Ladin legends in the Rosengarten group or “Tracking wild animals” – Tru di Tiers – where wood statues of animals are dotted around the trails. Reawaken the artist in you with the Tru di artisć– the path of the artists: starting from La Villa, admire sculptures of local artists deep within nature for a real open-air museum. Fans of geology will love the Dolomites World Heritage Geotrail: many stages all across the Dolomites are an invitation to discover its immense geological heritage.
Via ferrata are also fabulous ways of discovering the world at height and your best options are the Ferrata Alpina Tridentina and the Ferrata Piz da Lec for stunning days out. In Val Gardena you will be spoilt for choice with the Ferrata Meisules or Oskar Schuster and the easier options of Sas Rigais or Piccola Cir, among the many you can choose from. Cortina is the starting point of numerous adventures, such as the famous Via Ferrata Strobel, Formenton and the Galleria del Piccolo Lagazuoi, going along a WWI tunnel. Thrilling adventures are on their way.
Among the most efficient and modern gondola adventures in Europe, taking a lift high up in the mountains is a fabulous way to make the most of your stay. You could take your bikes and ride down for adrenaline-filled experiences, or visit the Movimënt outdoor parks at Piz Sorega and Piz la Ila. Conceived for adults and children alike, this is open-air glory with e-mtb points, relax areas, fun parks for kids, pumptrack and many more exciting experiences. Climbing walls, zip lines, giant trampolines and caves for fun-filled days in the spirit of adventure. You could also try geocaching, the modern take on treasure hunts, made with the help of a GPS device. Why not have a go at archery, minigolf or slacklining? The pumptrack on Piz La Ila is the first pump circuit for any non-motorised vehicle at an altitude of 2,000m. Train for your body balance, learn the tricks of smooth movements on a bike or skate and let the fun begin.
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