How to Explore the Hidden Gems of Italy's Dolomite Region
If you consider yourself anything of an online travel inspiration troller, you have likely noticed a little part of Northern Italy called the Dolomites popping up more frequently in your feeds. It’s a part of Europe whose buzz is undeniable, but one little town in the heart of it all deserves its own 15 minutes of fame: the charming village of Corvara.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to get to this part of Italy. But if you live for a scenic road trip (five hours northeast from Milan, three hours north from Venice, or two hours south from Innsbruck, Austria) the Dolomites are definitely for you.
The little town of Corvara sits in the South Tyrol (or Südtirol) region of Northern Italy often referred to simply as “the Dolomites” after the mountain range that runs throughout, making for those unfathomably-gorgeous Instagram shots. This area, snuggled between Italy and Austria, is the only place in the world where you can experience the unique culture of the Ladin people, a distinct ethnic group native to the South Tyrol with decidedly Swiss, Austrian, German and Italian influences.
Corvara, a 1,000-resident town, is right in the middle of it all in a valley of six towns called “Alta Badia” (yes, there are a lot of names for such a relatively small area). In both summer and winter, Alta Badia comes alive with tourists seeking some of the world’s most diverse hiking, biking, and skiing.
HOW TO GET THERE
Sitting in the shadow of the Sassongher mountain, a finger-like peak that juts into the sky and penetrates the view from all angles, Corvara couldn’t be more picturesque.
Given its size and seclusion, this little mountain-town is not the place to go if you’re looking for a packed schedule of sightseeing or trendy restaurant-going. Rather, it’s a vantage point for some of the country’s most spectacular outdoor
WHERE TO STAY
In the heart of the village is the Hotel La Perla, owned by the Costas, a family of hoteliers who
WHAT TO DO
The first order of business upon arrival is sidling up to the plush bar at Hotel La Perla and ordering an Airone Rosso spritz from bartender Stefano. No matter the season, you’ll want to have at least one of these variations on the arguably overdone Aperol spritz; it’s the
Once settled, you’ll be itching to get outside. Outdoor activities in and around Corvara are abundant. Grab a hiking map at one of the several outfitters in
Hiking the Sassongher is highly recommended and something many locals do every summer. (You’ll find that locals are, in general, an extremely active bunch - hiking, biking
Another worthy hike is Piz Boè, a far easier, and higher-altitude two-hour walk from the starting point, which you’ll reach after a two-part gondola and
On a lazier day, take the Col Alt
WHERE TO SHOP
The Dolomites aren’t exactly a mecca for shopping, but you won’t want to leave town without picking up a few local specialties for friends and family and some mementos for yourself. Woodworking is a very popular craft in the Dolomites, so you’ll find a plentiful supply of hand-carved
You’ll want to make the most of the time you’re in Südtirol. Here
The town of Ortisei is one of the closest to Bolzano, arguably the biggest “city” in the Dolomites. We’ve purposely skipped over Bolzano as there have been plenty of articles on the Dolomites which insist on a stay there; we argue that getting deeper into the mountains is where the action’s at. Nevertheless, if coming from Bolzano, the village of Ortisei should be your first stop.
This melting pot of a town begins to paint a picture of the culture mix you’ll experience throughout the region. While it’s easy to find Italian specialties like cured meats, cheeses and gelato, Ortisei also serves up decidedly German and Austrian influenced treats like apricot and apple strudels and hefeweizen beers.
Stay at the Adler Dolomiti, a centrally located resort whose large footprint covers several blocks of the cobblestone streets. The hotel, which will soon celebrate its 200-year anniversary, has the largest pool in the Dolomites so don’t forget your suit. Its enormous daily breakfast spread is particularly notable, especially when you have a long day of outdoor activities ahead.
ALPE DI SIUSI
This high-elevation alpine meadow may be even more difficult to get to than Corvara. Its remoteness is exactly why Alpe di Siusi is so pristine and magnificent. Cars are forbidden on some passes during seasons where the already-thin and windy roads become too dangerous to navigate. Plan your trip to the meadow’s Adler Mountain Lodge while it’s still daylight, either by leaving your car in town at Ortisei and taking the Seiser Alm lift, or making the hour drive from town.
The Mountain Lodge is true isolation in the best possible way. Outdoor areas are ever-abundant here as well, and hiking through the meadow’s rolling hills can be enjoyed by tourists of all fitness levels. Take a dip in the indoor/outdoor wraparound heated pool overlooking the Sasso Piatto and Plattkofel and wonder why you’ll ever have to leave.
This town is a skier's heaven, immortalized for the sport by the 1956 Olympic Games. Located directly east of Ortisei, Cortina feels distinctly more Italian. The outfitters in town—even Patagonia has a sizable retail shop—immediately paint the picture of a location popular with adventurers.
Stay at the Rosapetra Spa resort in the southern part of town and treat yourself to its outdoor Finnish black sauna, particularly after a long day skiing, hiking or climbing a
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors