Day 1: Welcome to Alto Adige.
Pick-up at the Trento train station at 10 a.m. and head to our first wine tasting (before lunch!) This will feature the sparkling wine called Trento DOC, which uses the champagne method. Depending on availability, our winery will either be Ferrari, the largest and most famous of Trento’s producers, whose wines have filled the glasses of countless movie stars and showered Formula One race-car drivers, or else Maso Martis, a boutique winery that supplies grapes to Ferrari and also sells sparklers under its own label.
Then we drive north to scenic Lake Caldaro and check into our hotel. A light welcome lunch at a winery will introduce the region’s mix of Italian and Austrian fare, such as speck (smoked ham), crisp pickles, and dense brown bread. After lunch, we do an easy two-hour hike on the weinstrasse (wine roads) that pass through vineyards and forests on the ridge, then wind back to town through a crazy quilt of vineyards and apple orchards on the valley floor. Finally, we’ll get better acquainted with Tyrolean cuisine during dinner overlooking the lake. L, D Goldener Stern in Caldaro
Day 2: Mt. Vigiljoch in the Alps.
Today’s hike starts with a cable-car rides that takes us up 6,000’ to our trailhead on Mt. Saint Vigilio or Vigiljoch. From here, our loop hike goes through classic alpine landscapes—thick pine forests, Sound of Music meadows, grazing cows, rustic mountain refuges, and scenic vistas. We’ll lunch at a mountain resort on canederli, hearty goulash soup, blueberry crepes, and fresh apple strudel, then return through more pine forests and rocky clearings to the funicular.
Then we drive to Tramin (the possible birthplace of gewürztraminer) to visit Hofstätter, one of the region’s top wineries in family hands. We’ll take a peek at their experimental vineyard where 15 gewürztraminer clones are growing, then taste their aromatic whites and stellar pinot noir. Dinner will be near Caldaro, where we’ll see how indigenous grapes like schiava and lagrein pair with the local cuisine. B, D Goldener Stern
Day 3: Gewürztraminer's Birthplace.
Today we’re back on the ridge overlooking the Adige valley floor. This point-to-point hike goes from Caldaro to Cortaccia, passing along wooded paths, paved wine roads, and vineyards (including some of Hofstätter’s). It’s a day of easy hiking amidst Tyrolean scenery and picturesque villages. Post-hike, we have a tour and tasting at Tiefenbrunner, where we’ll admire the fabulous 17th century Turnhof estate, the grandfather’s eccentric fountain sculptures and façade bas-reliefs, and the winery’s top-rated pinot grigio, muller thurgau, gewürztraminer, and lagrein. Dinner is in Caldaro. B, D Goldener Stern in Caldaro.
Day 4: Bolzano and “Frozen Fritz”.
During this transition day, we stop in Bolzano, dubbed “the Gateway to the Dolomites.” There will be free time to visit the museum of Frozen Fritz or Ötzi the Iceman, Europe’s oldest mummy, who lived about 3,000 BC and was discovered in a melting glacier in the Alps. Bolzano also offers outdoor markets, historic churches, a lively café culture, and great outdoor-adventure clothing stores. Our afternoon tasting is at Cantina Terlano. Founded in 1893, this is one of Alto Adige's oldest cooperatives and undoubtedly one of the best, with stellar gewürtzraminer, pinot bianco, lagrein, merlot, and pinot nero.
Then we leave the Alps and transfer to the western Dolomites, a two-hour drive over several mountain passes. Home base will be Canazei, one of the main winter centers in the Val di Fassa. This lateral valley offers access to some of the Dolomites’ most popular hiking routes: the Sella, Marmolada, and Sasso Lungo mountain groups. It’s also home to Ladini culture, whose language is as close as one gets to living Latin. Dinner might feature a region favorite—deer pasta with teroldego wine—or perhaps a fig-and-pear ravioli topped with poppy seed, accompanied by a spicy gewürtztraminer. B, D Hotel alla Rosa.
Day 5: The Emperor’s Way: Sassopiatto Loop.
Today features the Dolomites’ Sassolungo & Sassopiatto mountain groups, a popular destination for hikers that’s crisscrossed by trails and climbing routes. We start from Passo Sella at the bottom of the group and hike to the Sassopiatto Refuge. This 3- to 4-hour walk is in an alpine valley full of larch pines and open meadows, and offers impressive views of Mt. Sassolungo, the highest peak at 10,436’. It’s called Friedrich August Way, because the Austrian emperor used to vacation here and was very fond of this valley. Afterwards, if time allows, we’ll visit the Ladino museum, where videos bring to life their masked dances, old-style farming, cooking, and crafts. Dinner is on your own in Canazei. B Hotel alla Rosa.
Day 6: Road of bread: Pordoi Pass.
The Viel dal Pan (Road of Bread) is one of the most panoramic and popular trails along a mountain range in the center of the Dolomites. Connecting the Pordoi and Fedaia passes with the plain, this was an important route for commerce and communications in prehistoric and medieval times. We’ll shuttle by van to our trailhead at the Pordoi Pass, then do a steady but gradual climb up a broad path until we reach the ridge. From here we wind our way between mountain refuges and votive chapels, walking along an easy path that offers spectacular vistas of verdant meadows and craggy mountains, including the star: Marmolada, the Dolomites’ tallest peak, with Lake Fedaia at its foot. One can see why Marmolada is where Pope John Paul II loved to ski.
After refueling on spicy goulash (or pizza), we’ll visit a war memorial dedicated to the German soldiers of both World Wars and hear some history from our guides. Then we return to Canazei for our farewell dinner. B, D Hotel alla Rosa.
Day 7: Arrivederci!
Drive to the Trento train station (around 2 hours) and assistance with your travel plans. B.
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