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Grand nature adventures in the Italian Alps

The Italian Alps have a stunning character. And the Dolomites are one of worlds most amazing mountain chains here. UNESCO has put them on the heritage list for a reason. It is an immense paradise for nature admirers. Go for a hike, take a bike, and enjoy the local dishes.

The tourist board of the Italian province of Trentino invited me and other Dutch journalists for a trip. We went for some outdoor adventures like e-mountainbiking and of course some spectacular hiking. High up to 2700 meters. We also wandered through a fairylike botanic valley full of alpine flora and a miraculous view on mountain peaks.

Italian Alps Dolomites

“The intrinsic beauty of the Dolomites derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaus, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills”.

This text is from a brochure that goes on and on about the scenery of these monumental mountains.

And I must admit: all true!

What makes those rocky forms even more interesting is the green of the meadows and the trees below them, and above them: the blue and white of the sky and the clouds, constantly varying and giving the landscape a spectacular look every minute.

Val Primiero

The Dolomites are added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Nine mountain groups have been selected as representative of two criteria: superlative natural phenomena and outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history.

Lago di Castrona

There are many different natural environments to explore. From the rocky slopes and the rubble areas to the grasslands and the Alpine pastures. There’s glaciers, streams, lakes and peat bogs, there’s fir woodlands and deciduous trees. And, there’s those big, big rock formations.

The nature reserve Parco Naturale Paneveggio is in this area. For the lovers of numbers; I have written them all down. The park counts 1154 species of flora, from which 77 are on the red list of threatened species. Those attract 20.000 invertebrates of which 91 butterflies and 17 dragonflies. 9 species of reptiles and 5 amphibians have a habitat here and also deer are jumping around. In autumn lots of protected mushrooms appear.

But the best number is: the endless hours you can spend enjoying the beauty of mountain nature.

1. Walk on a moon landscape top

Italian Alps Cima della Rosetta

The Pala Group (Gruppo delle Pale) is a steep and pointy mountain range. It covers 240 km² between the Primiero valley, the Valle del Biois and Agordino. It includes a large plateau (Altopiano delle Pale). That is an empty rocky extent spanning for some 50 km² on a height of about 2500 to 2800 meters.

Italian Alps Cima della Rosetta

The Peak of Rosetta (Cima della Rosetta) is 2743 meters high. We went there with two elevators from San Martino di Castrozza. We took the green cabins of the Cabinovia Colverde for a first stop at 2000 meters, and then the red Funivia Cima della Rosetta to 2700 meters.

Italian Alps Cima della Rosetta

I would have loved to climb it with my own feet. It would have taken hours and strength, but that’s what mountain hiking is all about.

On the top, there’s lots of interesting hikes and even trekkings to make too on that plain that looks like a moon landscape.

Italian Alps Cima della Rosetta

Rifugio Rosetta is the first hut to reach. From there, a lot of hiking routes are indicated with red-white marks and numbers.

In the video you see how this moon landscape looks like, with lots of grays, whites and blues, almost ocean colours. And even, if you look well, some flowers that have the ability to grow even here.

3. Hike in a botanic valley

Val Venegia Italian Alps

A hike through Val Venegia leads you to a stunning scenery, with a view on the Gruppo delle Pale that is like an amphitheater.

Val Venegia Italian Alps

The valley is known for its botanic character, with lots of alpine flora, about 500 species of plants grow here. Val Venegia represents one of the most important areas of the Paneveggio park for its great naturalistic and landscape value. Woods, pastures with cows, screes, and dolomitic slopes are the features.

Val Venegia Italian Alps

There’s two mountain huts to enjoy the view and of course: local dishes like polenta with chewy toséla-cheese and mushrooms.

See the video to experience this valley:

3. E-Mountainbike tour in the hilly forest

E-Bike Italian Alps Paneveggio

We went on an e-bike through the park and I must say: I loved it.

Sporty folks might think that it is ‘cheating’ to use a bit of extra power. I, a committed bike rider, could’nt disagree more. Electricity adds to the experience! You fly up the slopes, but still have to use your legs to move on, and you still have to use your supple steering skills. E-bikes are NOT for lazy or aged folks, it’s for peeps that want to have more fun!

See the video impression of our experience:


Information about region Trentino in the Italian Alps

a. Hiking

Domolites Cima della Rosetta Italian Alps

For a hike on the moon landscape above the town San Martino di Castrozza, take the cabin Cabinovia Colverde for a first step – 2000 meters – and then the Funivia Cima della Rosetta to 2700 meters. From there, several routes are departing, all indicated with numbers. Seek for the Carta Percorsi – available at the local tourist office and the cash desk of the Cabinovia Colverde, because it indicates the 16 possibilities from light to heavy hikes. Also this website gives inspiration and tips. The Palaronda Trek is an interesting option for a multi-day trekking. It is a marked out 5-day hike for middle-level hikers, from hut to hut (rifugio’s) on top of the Pale di San Martino. There’s two options: the Palaronda Soft Trek (4 days of trekking) or the Palaronda Hard Trek (6 days of trekking and via ferratas). This website provides all the info. Want to see more of those huts? Rifugio Rosetta has a website.

The hike in Val Venegia is an easy one. Just park on the (preferrably first) parking lot and walk through the woods along the river to the mountain amphitheater. There’s two huts.

b. E-mountain biking

The (perfect) e-bikes we rode came from the bike rental company Local Motion in Predazzo.

c. Dolomites

Val Venegia Italian Alps Dolomites

To learn more about the ins and outs of this protected mountain range, this website shows the details and tells the stories.

d. Staying

If you want to go for luxury, in a four star hotel with a large breakfast and a sauna and swimming pool, the Castelir Suite Hotel in Panchià is a top place. We stayed here and had a good time. If you like camping this campsite is recommendable.

There’s al lot more places to stay of course. See ‘Eating’ (here below) for more addresses (most of them have rooms too), that I visited and can recommend:

e. Eating

Trentino Italian Alps
Definitely visit the restaurant La Miola of Betta Dellantonio, she is a great and super sweet Italian cook for over 30 years.

We ate yummy local dishes on the outdoor terrace with stunning mountain views at the eco fruit farm of Massimo Scalet: Agritur Dalaip dei Pape (they also have also rooms).

Trentino Italian Alps
Tasty pizza accompanied with local beer is served in Excelsior in front of the church of the charming town Cavalese, where you will also find Hotel La Stüa with a restaurant that serves good local food (also rooms available).
Trentino eating out
Great home made pasta is served at La Primoteca along the main road in Predazzo. In San Martino di Castrozza, the Ristorante tipico da Anita serves excellent traditional food (rooms available too). Try the dish Tosèla Polenta Funghi in de hut Agritur Malga Venegia in the valley Val Venegia. It is a delicious vegetarian dish with local heese and mushrooms.
Cavalese cheese
Looking for some gastronomic souvenirs? Local specialties are the cow and goat cheeses and butter of Cavalese, and the luxury pasta from the factory Pastificio Felicetti.

Other interesting reads on the Italian Alps