The Dolomites, or i Dolomiti in Italian, the breathtaking mountain range in the Trentino – Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy, is one of my favorite places to visit. While not what most North Americans expect in Italy, this region feels most certainly its geographic position on the crossroads of Italy and Austria. When we lived nearby at Lago di Garda, we took day trips to Trento or weekends up to Bolzano. We hiked near Canazei and took in the panorama of the alps at the Sass Pordoi.
I have sentimental reasons for loving this place too. My favorite wine of the Dolomites is maker Mezzacorona . I like their white wines, particularly their Pinot Grigio which I can find in my local market in Northern California. If you are in the area, take their informative – and fun – wine tour where you can learn about winemaking in the region, and have the opportunity to taste a wide range of their quality wines. The facility is modern and artistic.
In fact, it was this entertaining wine tasting experience at Mezzacorona followed by a carpaccio dinner in the nearby city of Trento, that has become a memorable family story. (I found out the next day I was four weeks pregnant with our daughter. I can assure you that sparkling wine and raw meat didn’t harm her!).
Trento is never far from my heart and mind. My wedding band is from Trento’s historic city center by a jeweler founded in 1872, Gioielleria D. Cortelletti.
During the winter Trento has some of the best known and beloved Christmas street markets. We especially loved to visit during this time. There we found a wide variety of sausages (like what you’d typically find in Germany or Austria) and delicious soup mixes for sale.
Bolzano farther north, was well worth the extra time in the car to visit. Its mediaeval city center, churches and castles – and mix of Italian and Austrian influence -give the city a unique flavor.
One of our all-time favorite trips was staying at an inn at Cortina d’Ampezzo near Canazei – long known as a winter sports center – in the northern region of Alto-Adige and hiking the upper part of Val di Fassa.
We visited off season and hiked in unbelievably remote and beautiful parts. We rested our feet at an outdoor cafe clinging to the edge of a mountain. We took the funivia (cable car) to the unforgettable Sass Pordoi, called the terrazza or terrace of the Dolomites , at 2,950 meters. (We purchased jackets from a wise man selling them before our ascent.) It has one of the most spectacular panoramas of the alps!
The Trentino – Alto Adige region of Italy – its people, food and culture – may not remind you of the Italy you are accustomed to visiting or hearing about – but it is well worth adding to your itinerary. In fact, it couldn’t be more what Italy truly is, a mix of diverse cultures and history.