Italy is not just historic Rome, fashionable Milan, or carnival Venice. There are also spectacular Dolomites, glacial lakes, alpine resorts, and other hidden treasures in the north of the country. We have written tips on the most beautiful places and the biggest attractions of the Dolomites (Italian Alps)!
Treasures of the Dolomites (Italian Alps)
The Dolomites boast beautiful rock formations rising to the sky. No wonder they have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Thanks to its unique composition (calcium and magnesium carbonate), the majestic white peaks of the mountains are “red” at the end of each day when the sun begins to set. It is an incredible natural spectacle as if from a wonderful painting that is worth seeing with your own eyes. In fact, you will take away so many incredible pictures from these places that you can make your own photo calendar from them at home.
The Dolomites are located in northern Italy (in the Italian part of the Alps) in the provinces of Trento, Belluno, and Bolzano. The queen of the mountains is their highest peak – Marmolada in the northeastern part of Italy. There is also the largest glacier, lots of trails, and Ferrata. The Dolomites are a paradise for skiers in winter and for climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts in summer and spring. Many hiking (and cycling) trails allow hiking for beginners and families with children. In addition to the trails, it is also worth visiting the mountain towns, which are in themselves a tourist attraction. The most interesting alpine resorts are Cortina d’Ampezzo, Predazzo, Bolzano, Brunico, Cavalese, Pampeago, Tesero…
Alpine ski resorts dolomites
Naples is usually used for pizza, Venice for carnival, and the Italian Alps for skiing. The sun, the orientation of the slopes to the south, and the state-of-the-art infrastructure with apres-ski equipment – it is no wonder that alpine resorts are synonymous with a white paradise. A certain ticket to this winter sport of the promised country is the Dolomiti SuperSKI ski pass, valid in the largest ski resort in the world, containing 12 separate areas with a total of 12,000 km of slopes. There is also the famous resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which, together with 11 other cities in the Alps (and the only one in Italy), is part of the exclusive association “Best of the Alps”, combining alpine resorts that have retained their classic style. Millennial history, centuries-old tourist tradition, and 120 km of slopes…
Como, Garda, Maggiore… – in the landscape of the Italian lakes
When we look down from the mountain tops to the Italian lakes, we will look in vain for the most beautiful, because they are all amazing and unique. Lake Como, with its inverted “Y” shape and longshore, is the third-largest lake in Italy. It is surrounded by majestic alpine slopes and green hills. The scenery is so fabulous that Como has appeared in movie hits such as “Casino Royale” or “Star Wars,” and luxury hotels and holiday homes such as George Clooney are scattered on its shores.
Lake Garda is the largest and cleanest lake in Italy. It is popular with surfers and attracts with its mirrored surface and idyllic landscape. In the towns around Garda, you can feel the real Italian atmosphere, eat well, and taste wine from the surrounding vineyards.
Lake Maggiore, located on the border between Italy and Switzerland, is famous for its islands and beautiful alpine landscape. Many interesting towns and resorts are scattered around its crystal clear waters. Here it is worth looking for attractions on the lake itself – especially in the Borromean Islands. It is an archipelago of five small islands – with palaces, gardens, museums…
And finally, for example, the alpine lake Lago di Resia, which is located in the alpine pass Alto Adige – near Trento, in northern Italy, on the border with Switzerland and Austria. Its charm is mainly due to the Romanesque tower of the church of St. Catherine, which proudly emerges from below the surface of the lake. If you believe in legends – in winter, when the alpine landscape is covered with a veil of snow and frost – bells ring from the church tower. It wouldn’t be strange if there had been no bells for decades.
Once an important point on the route connecting Europe with the Mediterranean basin. Today, it is the capital of the Trentino region, which many consider being the most beautiful area in the Italian Alps, which has earned the nickname “Wonderful Trento”. The first point of visiting the city will definitely be Piazza Duomo, the central square. Today, this place is an important destination for lovers of luxury goods – many boutiques of world-famous Italian designers are recognized on the same level as those in Milan. In Piazza Duomo, it is worth sitting in one of the cafés and admiring the frescoes decorating the tenement houses around the square.
Another important point is the basilica with the Neptune Fountain from the 18th century in front of the entrance. Interestingly, this is one of the two double fountains in Trento. A tourist gem is Castello Buonconsiglio, a monumental castle built over the centuries. Trento has a specific microclimate, thanks to which the weather is pleasant even in those in the coldest months – restaurants and cafes exhibit tables in the summer gardens…. already in February. Less than a kilometer from Piazza Duomo is the MUSE Museum – Alpine Copernicus Learning Center with an impressive area of 12 thousand square meters. The museum offers an open space full of realistic, often interactive exhibits – a great place to visit with children.
Merano and castles
Due to its location in a valley protected by the peaks of the Tessa massif, the parks, and gardens of Merano are full of Mediterranean vegetation. The snowy slopes of the Meran 2000 ski area (considered the best family ski resort in Europe) can be reached directly from under the palm trees. In addition, the city owes its popularity to the Viennese doctor, who made him famous in the 1930s as one of the European spa towns.
Buildings similar to Salzburg’s architecture, combined with the climate of the Mediterranean regions, meant that celebrities gradually began to come to Merano, including the Austro-Hungarian Empress – Sisi, after which local hotels, cafes, and the entire hiking trail were named! A characteristic feature of the Merano landscape is the promenades, the most interesting of which – Tappeiner’s promenade – was considered the most beautiful mountain promenade on the old continent.
Also, it is mainly Trauttmansdorff Castle, which is considered a botanical gem. It is located a few kilometers east of the spa and is surrounded by a majestic botanical garden. And although there are almost 800 fortresses, castles, and mansions on South Tyrol’s hiking trails, no one can surpass the beauty of Trauttmansdorff Castle. For example, only 4 kilometers away is the castle Tirol, which is the permanent residence of the Count of Tyrol. But see for yourself.
This Italian city is a textbook example of a partnership between Germans and Italy – in terms of architecture. South Tyrol is partly German. We see it mainly in the main square Piazza Walther full of apartment buildings or in the neo-Gothic character of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Bolzano offers a meeting with history through the South Tyrolean Archaeological Museum, which is the biggest attraction is the more than 5,000-year-old mummy of an iceman – Otzi. Art lovers can’t miss the Moseion Center for Contemporary Art and the Mountaineering Museum.
However, monuments and museums are nothing compared to the magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of the Italian Alps – Dolomites. The best way to admire the alpine scenery is to take the cable car from Bolzano to the top of Colle Kohlern (1130 m). Conditions for skiers are also great here. The ski resorts in Bolzano are known throughout Europe and every year are among the best places for lovers of winter sports. Bolzano is also a city of wine and apples – a paradise for gourmets, wine connoisseurs, and good cuisine. Unique vineyards, monumental fortresses, and stylish restaurants will surely remain in the memory of visitors for a long time.
Messner Mountain Museum (MMM)
In fact, there are up to 6 different museums on a common mountain theme, founded by the world-famous climber and traveler – Reinhold Messner. The focal point of the museum is part of the MMM Firmian, located at the majestic Sigmundskron Castle near the city of Bolzano, dealing with the theme of man’s struggle with the mountains. MMM Ripa at Bruneck Castle is dedicated to people living in the mountainous regions of Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe. The underground MMM Ortles (1,900 meters underground) illustrates the venerable power of eternal ice and darkness.
The main theme of MMM Juval, located in the medieval castle of Juval in the Val Venosta, is the magic and mysticism of the mountains. MMM Dolomites is again a kind of museum in the clouds. It proudly rises in the heart of the Italian Alps at the top of Monte Rite and offers 360 ° views of the Dolomite peaks from its glass walls: Monte Schiara, Monte Agnèr, Monte Civetta, Marmolada, Monte Pelmo, Tofana di Rozes, Sorapis, Antelao, and Marmarole. The youngest part of the Messner Mountain Museum – MMM Corones – is integrated into the top of the largest ski station in South Tyrol – the Kronplatz mountain. The futuristic body of the museum, designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, is no less impressive than the exhibition dedicated to the highest mountain peaks on the planet!
Thanks to the low-cost airlines’ flights are scheduled, it is a transit city on the way to Milan. But that’s wrong! There are many reasons to stay longer in this beautiful city at the foot of the Bergamo Alps. The dominant feature of Bergamo is Citta Alta – the historic center on a hill surrounded by Venetian walls. But the heart of this charming old town is Piazza Vecchia with its fountain surrounded by café tables. It is intimate, but not stunning – from the hill of the old town on clear days there is a beautiful view of the alpine peaks and the lower town (Citta Bassa) located is below. You can get here by the historic Funicular cable car. At the top, it is worth visiting the interior of the Palazzo della Ragione – the oldest Italian public palace or the Palazzo Nuovo – the palace with the historic Angelo Mai library. When visiting the lower part of the city, it is worth walking along Sentierone Street, famous for its boutiques, and visiting St. Bartholomew’s Church with the altar of Lorenzo Lotto.