Hike in Italy’s spectacular Dolomites and enjoy Michelin-starred local cuisine and world-renowned wines. This adventure offers an unforgettable mountain version of dolce vita.
You’ll be amazed by the diversity of the Dolomites, a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps that’s preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This spectacular destination combines Italian passion for la dolce vita with European sensibility and efficiency.
And even the most discriminating bon vivant will appreciate the area’s cuisine: the Trentino, South Tyrol, and Veneto regions offer much-loved dishes, toast-of-the-town wines, and top restaurants. What began as simple, yet unique, food has evolved into widely respected haute cuisine that’s loyal to its tradition and local products.
Among the regional specialties are cheeses from the Fiemme and Fassa valleys, speck (smoked raw ham), apples, and world-renowned wines—many from boutique and organic wineries. This eno-gastronomical exploration, combined with exceptional hiking in the breathtaking Dolomite landscape, is a bucket-list experience.
Highlights of the Dolomites:
- Hike the peaks of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site
- Rejuvenate in luxury and boutique spa hotels
- Visit Santa Croce Sanctuary high atop a scenic mountain
- Linger over a wine tasting at an award-winning local estate
- Ride a cable car to the heart-pounding summit of Sass Pordoi
- Sample traditional Ladino food
- Spend the night in a traditional high-mountain hut, or rifugio (alternative option available)
- Explore the steep walls of Bletterbach Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Engage in a hands-on cooking class focusing on northern Italian specialties
DAY 1: Innsbruck, Austria – Redagno, Italy,
Highlights: Arrival in Redagno, walk through meadows and pine forests
In the morning, we’ll rendezvous in the historic old town of Innsbruck, Austria, at the Romantik-Hotel Schwarzer Adler. From there, our group will cross the border into Italy to our destination of Redagno, one of the most idyllic places in the South Tyrol. (The region’s Italian name is Alto Adige.) Located at an altitude of 5,300 feet, the town boasts breathtaking views of vineyards and surrounding mountain peaks.
Upon arrival at our hotel, we’ll enjoy lunch and then take a guided walk through glorious meadows and pine forests of the Dolomites. Afterward, there’s time to enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool or sauna before our first amazing dinner.
Overnight in Redagno
Activity & Distance: easy walking
DAY 2: Redagno Peaks and Vintages
Highlights: Hike to Corno Bianco and wine tasting
Hike to the 7,602-foot summit of the Corno Bianco/Weisshorn massif, which has a spectacular, 360-degree, panorama of the Brenta and Ortler mountain chain, and a view of the Val di Fassa (Fassa Valley). Our trek will pass by a church, through the beautiful forest, and up to the bare rocks. Along this moderate hike, we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch.
In the late afternoon, a sommelier will guide us through a degustazione (sampling) of Alto Adige wines. We’ll do a thorough tasting of local, biodynamic Haderburg wines as well as other renowned vintages such as Franz Hass and Hoffstätter, which are not labelled organic but are produced using organic grape-growing methods.
Overnight in Redagno
Activity & Distance: 5 hours of hiking (8 miles); 2,625-foot ascent/descent
DAY 3: Cooking Class & Bletterbach Canyon
Highlights: Pasta-cooking class, Geoparc Bletterbach Canyon hike
Today we’ll get passionate about pasta during a hands-on cooking lesson. We’ll learn local recipes and a plethora of creative ideas from our chef as he guides us through the preparation of local gnocchi, canederli (boiled potato or bread dumplings) and other fresh pastas and desserts specific to southern parts of the Alto Adige region.
Our chef will guide us through the organic garden, where we’ll pick fresh herbs and other ingredients to cook with. He will also show us a variety of ways to prepare each pasta dish with different sauce combinations. We’ll then feast on the dishes we’ve prepared together.
There’s ample opportunity to work off our meal this afternoon on a guided hiking tour of the Geoparc Bletterbach, which is included in the Dolomites recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The “Grand Canyon of South Tyrol,” is a breathtaking—even mystical—place. Five miles long and 1,312 feet deep, Bletterbach Canyon reveals fossilized imprints of plants, shells, and amphibians.
Overnight in Redagno
Activity & Distance: 3 hours of hiking (5.6 miles); 984-foot descent/ascent
DAY 4: Sella Massif Exploration in Alta Badia
Highlights: Hike to a high-altitude mountain hut (rifugio ) for an overnight
On the enormous, fortress-shaped Sella Massif is an excellent network of trails. The Sella mountain group includes a 10,341-foot pyramidal peak, Piz Boè, which can be seen from any of the four passes of the Sella Massif. We’ll ride gondolas from the Val di Fassa up to Belvedere, and from there, we’ll skirt the imposing Sas Becé to Passo Pordoi. We’ll continue to Ossario del Pordoi, a military memorial for more than 8,000 German and Austrian troops who lost their lives in the Dolomites during both World Wars. Here, we’ll stop for a packed lunch before continuing on to Rifugio Franz Kostner, a rustic, but comfy, mountain hut where we’ll spend the night. Situated in the Sella mountain group atop a natural rock balcony, the hut offers incomparable views of some of the most famous Dolomite peaks and Zillertal Alps. The rifugio faces east, so the sun wakes us early, and its rays gild the rock faces of surrounding peaks—Sasso delle Nove, Sasso delle Dieci, and Piz da Lech—each nearly 9,800 feet high.
Our host Cristina personally prepares simple but delicious cuisine. Polenta with cheese, mushrooms, and sausage is a perennial favorite, as is goulash (a stew of meat, noodles, and vegetables) and apple strudel. Italy’s spectacular Alta Badia region has built a reputation for innovative cuisine—even on the ski slopes. A group of local, Michelin-starred chefs, known as the DoloMitici, launched the “Slope Food” initiative, in which culinary experts serve an array of tempting appetizers and small plates in 12 hut locations on the Alta Badia slopes. These inventive dishes are created in collaboration with sommeliers, who pair them with the finest South Tyrolian wines for an exceptional pre-dinner treat.
Those who don’t wish to spend the night at the rifugio can descend on the chair lift and the cable car to the town of Corvara, and then transfer to Hotel Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano. (Note: Additional fee. The cost includes transportation and the night’s hotel accommodations.)
Overnight at Rifugio or for those less adventurous in San Cassiano at Hotel for additional fee
Activity & Distance: 4 hours of hiking (5 miles); 2,165-foot ascent/1,476-foot descent
DAY 5: The Best of Alta Badia
Highlights: Hike, lunch at Rosa Alpina’s mountain hut, wine tasting nearby Ciasa Salares’
Today we’ll descend from Rifugio Franz Kostner, passing other rifugios as we continue on a gravel path to Passo Campolongo. From there, we’ll hike through pastures on a trail known as Tru di lagri (“path of hunters”) and walk by Rifugio La Marmotta, Rifugio Punta Trieste, and Rifugio Pralongià before we reach our lunch spot at Rosa Alpina’s mountain hut, where we’ll enjoy more high-altitude Alta Badia cuisine.
Our downhill hike takes us to the cozy town of San Cassiano in Alta Badia. We’ll relax before tonight’s wine tasting in the private cellars of Ciasa Salares, where sommelier Stefan Weiser has created a cantina not to be missed! The unique cellar walls are lined with 21,000 bottles, representing 1,850 different wines. On tables of local wood, cut according to phases of the moon in harmony with the biodynamic philosophy that underlies the majority of his products, we’ll enjoy excellent organic and biodynamic wines from around the world. Dinner will be on your own tonight in San Cassiano.
Overnight in San Cassiano
Activity & Distance: 5 hours of hiking (6.2 miles), plus a 1-hour (1,519-foot) descent
DAY 6: Santa Croce Sanctuary and Ladino Culture
Highlights: Hike to Ospizio Santa Croce and traditional Ladino lunch
Today we’ll walk to the Santa Croce Sanctuary at the base of the Sasso della Croce, known as Sass dla Crusc by the local Ladino population. (Ladin is spoken only in the Dolomites, by a few thousand people.) First, we hike uphill on a wide trail, passing by a cluster of ancient Ladino farmhouses and barns known as viles. Then we progress through pine forests and revel in the fantastic views of the Santa Croce, Conturines, and Sella mountain groups—and of Val Badia towns.
After a couple of steep ascents, we arrive at the church and sanctuary of the pilgrims’ hospice, Ospizio Santa Croce. The sober, white church, consecrated in 1484, contains an image of Christ bearing the cross—hence the name of the mountain, Sasso della Croce, which means “stone of the cross.’” The earlier, 11th-century chapel was built as a meditation refuge for a wealthy count who withdrew there to repent for his harsh treatment of his subjects. He then donated all his earthly possessions to the nearby abbey, the badia, which gave its name to Val Badia.
We continue on to Ranch da André, a typical Ladino shepherd’s house converted into a rifugio that serves delicious, traditional Ladin food. Among the most popular dishes are the barley soup with turtres (Ladin veggie pastries) or the cajinci (known as schlutzkrapfen in South Tyrol and as ravioli with ricotta and spinach in Italy). Other typical dishes include crafuncins (ravioli with spinach) or puessl (apple pancake, cut into small pieces) or krapfen and strudel.
After lunch we descend to the town of San Leonardo and transfer back to San Cassiano, where we may visit the Rosa Alpina kitchen before enjoying an aperitivo followed by a three-course gourmet dinner is prepared and hosted by a 2-star Michelin Grand Chef Norbert Niederkofler
Overnight in San Cassiano
Activity & Distance: 5 to 6 hours of hiking with elevation gains of 1,450 feet
DAY 7: Departure
After breakfast, we’ll depart for the Innsbruck, Austria, airport. The ride on private transportation takes about 2.5 hours. For those extending their stay, you may choose make your own travel plans to other parts of Italy.