Slowly does it...our trip to north Italy

Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 12:51 PM
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Slowly does it...our trip to north Italy

I could describe this better as a gentle meander through the Trentino Alto - Adige (with a short visit to Lake Garda).

We are part way through our holiday. It’s another slow trip. Last September I took my father to Bavaria, this time it’s my mother’s turn.

Background to trip:

Over several previous trips to Italy I have stayed in Milan/ Cinque Terre/ Volterra/ Florence/ Verona/ Trento/ Ortisei/ Trezzone (on northern end of Lake Como)/ Bergamo/ Chiavenna.

Happy to explore a bit more for a short, autumnal visit.

Easy to base and day trip. Chose region as this is a short trip - travel routes are uncomplicated; enjoying regional differences, excellent food, transport, scenery: mountains, lakes, vineyards, orchards, charming towns, castles.

This is an Italian and German speaking area. (The Trentino-Alto Adige region is divided into two provinces. The southern province of Trentino is mostly Italian speaking while in the northern province of the Alto Adige, called Südtirol or South Tyrol, the inhabitants seemed to speak both languages and towns have both an Italian and a German name. South Tyrol was part of Austria-Hungary before being annexed by Italy in 1919.)

Great food and wine Category: Dolomites - The WineKnitter and food festivals eg the upcoming Bread and Strudel festival in Bressanone, the Speck festival in Val Di Funes, potato festival in Villabassa, and mountain cheeses, Schlutzkrapfen, smoked pork, Tirtlan, …..

Researching restaurants was surprising, so many quality options, even in a small town like Bressanone and the villages in the Val Pusteria

Even a Michelin starred restaurant in Dobbiaco.

Other factors: As I am taking my (active and fit) 81 year old mother, she had a few requests, one of which was a destination country that has a reciprocal health agreement with Australia (travel insurance does not cover pre existing conditions) and she is from East Germany, so language was a consideration.

note: this is nearing end of summer season, with some hotels winding down, and while some cablecars still run until 13 Oct, do check seasonal closures.

Nonconformist’s report Castles in two languages: Merano and surrounds inspired me!

Other useful resources:


Plan: Arrival (a night in Innsbruck) and departure days not included, we opted for 3 bases, with
8 nights in San Candido in the Val Pusteria,
3 nights in Bressanone and
3 nights in Malcesine (Lake Garda, in the Veneto).

Leisurely travel back to Munich (Freising), via a night in Vipiteno.

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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 12:58 PM
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Travel day: Adelaide to Innsbruck

Qatar flight to Doha 14 hours, short layover then 6 hours to Munich arr 1:15pm, about 23:5 hours travel.

On arrival, an efficient exit from Munich airport (no queues, quick baggage) then the S8 to OST Bahnhof, and an EC train to Innsbruck (€49 each, 2 hours) arriving 5:20 pm (note: Werdenfels ticket is cheaper, but a longer ride)


1 night at “Altstadthotel Weißes Kreuz” €174 double room with breakfast

Located in the lovely pedestrianised old town, really nice, quiet, historic hotel, we were in an attic room, 5 th floor, great room size (comfort room category).

Early enough arrival in Innsbruck so a late afternoon stroll and then dinner. Packed pedestrian zone this balmy Saturday evening, lots of outdoor eateries and a few stores still open. My mother immediately attracted to a linen store and purchased a tablecloth.

A nice light dinner (pumpkin soup with Styrian pumpkin seed oil), a goats cheese salad, a glass of white wine (€30 each) and an early night.

Dinner was good value, but we were clueless when our €3 glass of wine (we thought) turned out to be a taster, like a small mouthful. So asked for a glass, which was €12! Probably a very fine wine, ha.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:00 PM
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:02 PM
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We were not alone
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:14 PM
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Day 1: Innsbruck to San Candido (Innichen)

We were both awake at 2:30 am, but did nap a bit after a few hours, so not too shabby. Rain clearing.

Brisk early morning stroll, no tourists yet, just street sweepers, joggers, gardeners, wandered to the Hofgarten, huge old trees, just lovely.

It’s quiet at 7:30 am on a Sunday...

Fabulous breakfast with muesli, fruits, pumpkin seeded breads, boiled egg, cheese, and a jump starting double espresso.


This was a nice way to break up our journey to South Tirol, and recharge.

Departing late morning, so a gentle, relaxing start.

2:5 hour train journey (€17 each) from Innsbruck to San Candido (1 change in Fortezza)

This is the train to Bologna, so quite full. Seats had notes reserved all along, but we snagged a couple hoping no one would claim them. Turned out the notes just say “ if reserved, please vacate your seat” but it looked to us like “seats reserved”.

Departed Innsbruck 11:24 am arrived San Candido 14:10.

Note: Just missed the return of the cows (yesterday)

It is a 5 minute walk to the Hotel Baranci

€936 for 8 nights double room including half board booked direct with hotel.

Wandered into the town, which was buzzing with a flea market (kitchenware, books, the kids’ old lederhosen, grandma’s religious art), and stores open this Sunday afternoon.

Speck and cheese store was packed, smelled so good.

And a really cute store with Christmas decorations, I loved it.

San Candido

San Candido

San Candido

Stepped into a few churches, the monastery church has frescoes from 1280.

picked up a gelati, wandered back.

Cousin arrived, they had a long journey from north east Germany.

Our hotel has a comfortable common lounge, where we could enjoy a pre dinner drink and catch up.

Tonight’s half board dinner : warm and cold buffet style appetizers and salad/ veg options, choice of 3 entrees (risotto, pumpkin soup, ravioli) and mains (lamb, pork, omelette) and strudel for dessert.

Nice meal, I think half board is a good option in these small towns.

Pre order your choice at breakfast.

A note on half board: breakfasts here include cereals, yoghurts, fruits, cheeses, cold meats, eggs cooked as you like (2 fried eggs on Speck was fantastic), great variety of sour dough and seeded breads, 4 choices wonderful local jams, coffee made to order, variety of cakes...and dinners are 4 courses with appetiser/ salad / veg from buffet, choices for first and main course. Dessert and / or cheese as well. We usually just had the main course with veg / sometimes cheese.

Great variety and quality. Lots of regional produce.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:21 PM
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Day 2: San Candido

a cool 12C max, cloudy, and rain forecast. Both awake at 4:30 am.

Long slow breakfast, and short drive to Brunico. Busy road, lots of car and truck traffic. Lumber yards, dairies, farms, villages en route.

Brunico has a charming historic centre, with nice stores which was handy this wet day. We visited the Speck museum and store, a fabulous cellar that can be viewed.

Cheeses and speck stored in cellar

Brunico facades

Brunico street

Walk up to castle

Brunico Castle

Driving the Val Pusteria

Also a few table runner and soap purchases. Then wandered up to the castle. We didn’t visit, as my mother’s eyesight not adequate for reading lots of text, but for anyone interested the Messner Mountain Museum is located here.

Museum - Messner Mountain Museen

We lunched at a little cafe, excellent coffee, toasted bauernbrot with speck, cheese, tomato, strudel (€25 for lunch for 4!) but a bit of chaos with a crowded store and no clear system for ordering or paying, staff run off their feet.

Wandered along the river and old town until rain too heavy to enjoy.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:31 PM
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Day 3: San Candido

(Both awake at 4:30am)

finer weather forecast, so off to Lago Di Braies with hundreds of others….

First, bought speck and cheese rolls from a cafe/ bar that was packed with elderly locals having coffee, seemed like regulars who ‘catch up’ there. A good choice for our picnic lunch later at the lake.

Minimal car parking and crowded (? Instagram effect, and it featured in an Italian TV show), so public transport a good option.

A 10 min train ride to Villabassa, then 20 min bus ride through a lovely valley to the lake. Very popular with walkers and their dogs, and a few wedding photo shoots.

It is as pretty as expected, with turquoise water and surrounding mountains.


Lake walk

Turquoise water

Lake walk

Lovely lake

Time for lunch

Loop walk from here

The path gets a bit crowded, at times.

Had our picnic rolls with a local merlot, it’s a good life.

Would have added Malga Foresta/Grünwaldalm (30 min) to our wander perhaps, but this walk seemed enough for my mother.

Stopped in Villabassa on our return for a stroll and coffee and cake. A very charming village.

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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:39 PM
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Day 4: San Candido

Overcast, some rain, quite cool

Drive to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Passed the Lago Di Dobbiaco, through valley and stopped at Lago Di Landro for a quick look (views to Cristallo group, but clouds came over quickly), before continuing on to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Beautiful drive

Beautiful drive

Near Lago Di Landro

Cloudy and wet, so wandered the pedestrian zone, lots of upmarket fashion stores and very stylish Italians.

Larger town than I expected. Obviously geared for tourists.

Nice lunch of tortellini in brodo (€8 plus €4 drinks) before driving back via loop through Misurina (mountain views clouded over) and back to Cortina, before returning to San Candido.

This is a fantastic drive, whether by car or bus, stunning views all around.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:45 PM
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Day 5: San Candido

Stroll around town, and chairlift Haunold Baranci (€10 each, one way).

Lunch at the chairlift station (Speck dumplings in broth, €8) and walked the children’s “Giant walk” loop, then on to Wildbad (the chapel and hotel ruins) and on to San Candido. Very pleasant walk, just the right length for my mother.

Changeable weather

Wispy clouds


Chapel at Wildbad

Autumnal colour

Through forest, valley views, the mineral waters and ruins at Wildbad very interesting. The hotel went into decline during the First World War and never recovered.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 01:48 PM
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My photos are on Flickr here:[email protected]

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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 02:03 PM
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Day 6: San Candido

Forecast is for fine weather early. Finally!
Off to Tre Cime. Decided against shuttle bus, but a good option (train to Dobbiaco, then shuttle bus €15). Cousin drove, left at 8:30 am (weather forecast showed sunny 9-12), also car parking limits to consider - €30 to enter, there was a queue when we exited. One out, one in by then.

Incredible drive up to Auronzo. Season winding down, so less busy but still heavily visited and more so as a sunny morning.

Gorgeous day, so lucky.

The drive up

Car parking!

We did the flat walk to Lavaredo hut, 30 minutes, I went on to Forcella Lavaredo, 1 km further (uphill, but easy).

Jagged peaks

Auronzo hut


Easy walk to first hut

Flat path

Flat path

I found the distances between huts online, and note most describe the loop walk as ‘easy’ 10.6 km. But a hiker was airlifted out, and some experienced hikers told us it was more difficult than they expected. Quite a bit of ascent/ descent. We felt satisfied with the compromise we made, the Auronzo to Lavaredo path is flat, but still has stupendous views. My mother happy to stop there. The little extra 20 minute uphill walk to Forcella grants you the views of Locatelli hut and the other side of the 3 peaks. Just astonishing.

Tre Cime

Hikers on path - look like ants...

Hikers on path

Hikers on path, rock climbers on right peak (mid way)

Locatelli hut


This is from online:

From Rifugio Auronzo to Rifugio Lavaredo 30 min ca. – 1,7 km
From Rifugio Lavaredo to Forcella Lavaredo 20 min ca – 1,0 km (road)
From Forcella Lavaredo to Rifugio Locatelli 40 min ca – 1,9 km (road)
From Rifugio Locatelli tp Malga dei Pastori 1,15 ora ca – 2,8 km
From Malga dei Pastori to Rifugio Auronzo 35 min ca – 2,1 k

Stunning blue sky, incredible views.

Fantastic lunch at Malga Popena, on the return drive.

Gnocchi, gesternsuppe, Speck and cheese platter, Speck dumplings in broth, beers, cake, fresh yoghurt and berries, fruit, coffees, €66 for 4.

A wonderful experience, great food with ingredients mostly their own or sourced locally.

Incredible day.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 02:09 PM
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Rock climber

Lavaredo hut in left of photo ...looks tiny

Path hard to spot

Hikers closer up
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 05:22 PM
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Lovely report - very much enjoying it!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 05:41 PM
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Your photos are awesome, and the scenery is spectacular! How high is the mountain? Do people suffer from high altitude sickness?
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 07:00 PM
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Gorgeous photos! Like you, I am a big fan of hiking in the Dolomiti. San Candido looks like a good base. Your mom must be in excellent shape.

Looking forward to more details and more photos.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 08:45 PM
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Really enjoying your report. Your pictures are beautiful.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 08:47 PM
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Great report and photos; thank you.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 11:03 PM
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Your pictures are beautiful!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2019, 03:27 AM
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Wow. Great photos and report. Thanks.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2019, 04:50 AM
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Great report and photos! Can't wait to see more. I am really missing the Dolomites, and we haven't even been home a month.
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