This summer I had the privilege of hiking in the Italian Alps ~ the Dolomites. Absolutely one of the most unforgettable hiking adventures I’ve ever been on and only made me want to go again. There is so much to share it would take two blogs to type out our four days so I’ll give you the highlights here.
Perhaps you would like to make the Dolomites a hiking trip while you are in Europe or maybe this is the reason you are in Europe. Either way, I hope my blog helps with some information how to plan safely and see this incredible landscape that borders Italy and Austria! Described as some of the most beautiful mountains of the world, the Dolomites has 18 peaks and is part of the protective UNESCO World HERITAGE historic property.
Once again I grabbed a few friends and convinced them this healthy hike would be fun and lots of exercise.
The South Tyrol or Sud-Tirol ~ this part of Italy was once its own country and still has its own language. Probably not an official language but after four days I can tell you it was a cross between German, Austrian and Italian. We got by for the most part and laughed a lot about what we didn’t understand.
Beginning in Bolzano
So number one, when you live close to north Italy you can add a STOP along the way, right. So we decided to stop in at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology and check out Ötzi, the Ice Man! I had visited this museum before and decided this would be really cool to show the girls and visiting Bolzano would be incredible too.
Bolzano was first named a town in 677 and its strategic location and border set it up for occupation for generations. Original in the country of Tyrol, then part of the Habsburg dynasty, then the Holy Roman Empire, then Bavaria and eventually after World War II, Italy.
You would think this gorgeous town in north Italy would have a confused identity but the historians of the Bolzano decided to honor the Austrian architecture and character of its history. It has a Dominican Monastery, a castle, castle ruins on a hill and more. You could easily make Bolzano a one or two day stop on your way to travel through Italy or on a return visit from Verona or Venice.
We decided to stay in the town of Badia – which was in the heart of a valley between two mountains and trail heads, San Martin and San Vigilio. Our hiking lodge chalet, Chalet Hotel Diamant was exactly what I was looking for ~ if you book with them directly, they will give you a discount.
Half board, full board – several of the hiking “hotels” in the area include options like half board or full board. Each hotel varies in what they offer ~ for example, half-board may include breakfast and one meal (like lunch or dinner) and full board is all three meals.
Our lovely older hotel was perfectly priced at about €100/night for two and included breakfast. When we checked in, we were able to make dinner reservations and enjoyed not leaving and then rolling into bed. Our breakfasts were perfect and filled with protein. Our last day they made a special buffet of scrambled eggs and bacon!! What a special treat! Hotel Diamant also has a spa area and indoor swimming pool.
Hiking in the South Tyrol
I found most of my hiking research on this WEBSITE for the Sud-Tirol. It may seem overwhelming because there is so much information. However, once I decided what kind of trails we would like to conquer then it was easy to choose the rest.
San Martin de Tor
Our starting point for the San Martin Tor in San Martino in Badia not far from our chalet. The trail head has plenty of parking although it was €5/day. It seemed strange as there were just a few guys collecting € there but the park ranger said it was legitimate. The “parking lot” was literally the side of the road.
We decided to do the Roda de Pütia begin the trail HERE. Look for the DOLOMITES UNESCO park sign – the signage is fantastic. I will probably say that several times throughout the blog because it was great! I really appreciated a fluid trail.
When you are hiking the Alps it is really important to study the trail before you go on it. Luckily we had a friendly park ranger who helped us out and led us to the “children’s path.” Ha! We laughed about that – well she did say, even the children could do it – it’s called the circular round of Sans Pussia too.
Day two of our hike we decided to tackle the San Lorenzo mountains. We got misguided by a helpful local to head to the Piccolino trail (or small trail) this turned into being a rabbit hole. We found a ski lift that happened to be closed for the season, so the next best thing was to follow a trail of the same name.
We ended up in taking a paved trail along the mountain’s edge to the town of Zwischenbrugger (this could easily be done with small children.) It took most of our morning so once we arrived in town, we decided to have a bite to eat. Lovely service, food and views for just a few minutes at the Albergo Gader in Zwischenbrugger.
After lunch we caught a hiking bus halfway up the mountain to San Lorenzo. We started at the city town square and made our way up the hill to the Skilift arena. This trail led us higher into a few mountain towns that were right out of a picture book.
We decided to follow the Marebbe Pass and discovered Spiaggetta Ciamaor.
This fun waterpark, roaring river, horse riding in the lake, playground area with tee-pees was intense. We had a blast. BTW, they have public restrooms here too.
We finished up back in town and rested for a few minutes at the UNESCO park.
TIPS for preparing to hike in the Dolomites
- Practice hill work and endurance before you come
- Work up to 10 miles (walking per day with your boots on before you hike)
- BUY good hiking BOOTS, not sneakers (waterproof, not water restistant)
- Wicking clothes are important as well as coats for rain or possibly snow
- BUY GOOD POLES – enough to carry your weight and then some
- Locally Decathalon has quite a few options that are affordable
Time to head back to San Badia and get a good night’s rest. Our time in the mountains were coming to an end. Until next time ~
It’s always and adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!