Day 1: Rendezvous in Bolzano the charming provincial capital of Alto Adige. While here you should take the opportunity to visit the Museo Archaeologico which is home to Otzi also known as the Ice Man. His frozen body was found by hikers in the nearby mountains in 1991. He is the most completely preserved man ever discovered and is thought to be at least 5300 years old. From here we take a brief transfer into the famed Val di Funes for our first walk. This area feels as if it has been left behind by the 21st century. It is populated by farmers and wood sculptors all dressed in the traditional blue of the Dolomites.
This valley is the most unspoilt part of the Dolomites and you will have the opportunity to see how traditionally people lived and still live in the Sud Tyrol. Our base for the first 2 nights is a charming village which is famous for its spectacular mountain setting and the local woodcarving industry. For centuries religious sculptures have been made here and you will see many examples of wayside shrines during our walks. Includes: (D).
Day 2: We take a short van transfer to the start of our walk in the Puez-Odle National Park. Our trail takes us through pine woods along a river before starting to ascend to a mountain dairy or malga. These dairies are a crucial feature of traditional alpine farming. We continue to Malga Glatchone of the oldest working farms in the valley where we stop for lunch. During our return journey which is mainly downhill we have good views of the Puez-Odle mountain range which was home to the mythical mountain king Laurin.
Includes: (B), (D).
Day 3: This morning we leave our valley and head into the heart of the mountains. We will drive through the wild and virtually unpopulated Val di Funes to Passo delle Erbe. Today is a full-day hike and our trail starts at 2000 meters and reaches 2357 meters at the saddle. For lunch we will have the option of a picnic or eating at a small restaurant along the trail. The walk takes us through a beautiful landscape dominated by the Odle and Puez groups.
We also have panoramic views of the Val Badia. There is also an easier option for those who prefer a less strenuous day. At the end of the walk we transfer onto our next hotel and our base for the next two nights. The hotel is furnished in classic mountain style and is run by the affable Norbert, who will accompany us on some of our walks. We meet for drinks for dinner in the cozy alpine bar before dinner. Dinner is in the hotel restaurant expertly supervised by Norbert. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 4: Today is the day we come to grips with the Ladins, the original inhabitants of this area who still speak their own language and follow their own distinctive customs. This morning we take a hike up into the villages above San Vigilio. The villages are groups of six to twelve houses and are the original settlements of this valley. Some of them are hundreds of years old. We will also visit the original parish church with its beautiful wood altar and carved choir stalls. In the afternoon we have time to visit the outstanding Ladin Museum housed in a medieval castle at San Martino. We have a tasting of the wines of Alto Adige and Trentino before dinner tonight. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Valle dei Mulini. Today we walk from the charming village of Longiaru. The trail passes through a magical landscape of streams, dotted with picturesque mountain huts. We can take lunch outdoors at Funtanaccia; the foot of the mountains. In the afternoon we visit the 10 restored water mills accompanied by a local guide. At the end of the day we head off to our overnight destination, Rifugio Fanes set in a landscape of dramatic rock formations and mountain lakes. Fanes is one of the most famous mountain huts in the Dolomites dating back to World War I. It is now home to a comfortable hotel and excellent restaurant and is accessible only on foot or by jeep. So relax on the sundeck take in the view while enjoying a cold beer or a glass of local wine. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 6: This morning we head towards the heart of the Val Badia. This is a good day for flower spotting and in summer there are edelweiss, crocus and dwarf azalea along the way. There are also many animals in this region, including the chamois, a brown deer-like creature, fox and of course marmots the mascot of the Dolomites. We walk through a valley which was the scene of bitter mountain battles during The First World War. This is where the Austrians and Italians lived over two winters in tunnels and galleries hacked out of the rock, trying to blast each other off the mountain.
You can clearly see the scars of the explosions and how the face of the mountains was changed forever. Our trail descends to the tiny village of La Villa. Our base for the next two nights is an elegant 3 star hotel. The hotel is furnished in classic mountain style. After a hard days hike, you can relax those weary muscles in the sauna. It also has an excellent restaurant. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: We start the day with a short transfer to a mountain pass at 2000m, for what is possibly the most scenic walk of the week. We hike on a panoramic trail with excellent views of the Val Badia below. Once on the plateau you are rewarded with 360 degree views, of the Austrian Alps and the spectacular glacier of Marmolada, the highest peak in the Dolomites. We can admire the view while we take lunch al fresco. After lunch al fresco we continue downhill to La Villa. For those seeking an easier option there is always a cable car down to the village. Our final dinner is at an elegant restaurant. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 8: Transfer to Bolzano. Includes: (B).
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