- Hike amid glorious landscapes of pillars, pinnacles, and colossal rock walls including the stunning Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Rosengarten’s pink peaks.
- Encounter remnants of World War I, trekking along supply paths past abandoned bunkers and barracks.
- Discover the culture of the little-known Ladin people, exploring their once-isolated villages and dining in the farmhouse of a local shepherd.
- Take a behind-the-scenes tour of South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to Ötzi, a natural human mummy.
Italy’s Dolomite Mountains rise up from the surrounding alpine valleys like a cathedral of rock, adorned with rugged crags and breathtaking pinnacles. Hit the trails to explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, hiking across high rocky ridges and idyllic meadows to picturesque rifugios, or mountain huts. Trace the dramatic wartime history of place that served as the Austria-Italian frontline during World War I, and discover surprising cultures within charming villages, where the ancient customs of the Ladin people still thrive and Austrian and Italian influences seamlessly blend.
Arrive in Venice and travel north into the heart of the Dolomites. Our destination is Cortina d’Ampezzo, the site of the 1956 winter Olympics and our home for the next three nights. Spend the afternoon relaxing or exploring the inviting lanes and piazzas of this charming alpine town on your own. Join your fellow travelers for an orientation and welcome dinner this evening.
Park Hotel Franceschi
Take to the surrounding slopes this morning to tackle our first hike, the western portion of the Alpe di Sennes Circuit. The trail runs beneath the dramatic crags of the Croda Rossa mountains and passes through two stunning nature parks—the Dolomiti D’Ampezzo and the Fanes-Sennes-Braies. Beginning at Rifugio Malga Ra Stua (5,472’), we’ll cross over landscapes of marshlands, verdant valleys, and stark alpine slopes, eventually reaching an altitude of 6,942’. Break for lunch at the Rifugio Fodara Vedla before returning to our starting point via a World War I mule track. (7 miles hiking, 5 hours)
Park Hotel Franceschi
Today’s trek begins at Rifugio Auronzo (7,650’), a remote hut surrounded by a magnificent amphitheater of spiky peaks. Our trail winds steeply uphill to the rocky pass at Pian di Cengia (8,200’), taking us by abandoned World War I bunkers and barracks along the way. Hike across a vast scree slope to the foot of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a trio of enormous rock plates jutting out of the massif. Enjoy lunch beneath these fantastic natural fortifications before hiking under their north faces. Return to Cortina d’Ampezzo, where you can spend the rest of the day at leisure. (8 miles hiking, 6 hours)
Park Hotel Franceschi
This morning we’ll hike the undulating landscapes of the Altopiano di Fanes while enjoying panoramic views of Marmolada (10,968’), the highest peak in the Dolomites. A short drive will then take us to San Cassiano, a quaint village nestled within the folds of a verdant alpine valley. Ride the chairlift up to Piz Sorega (6,570’) and follow a ridgeline trail to our lunch spot at the Rifugio Bioch. From here, we’ll hike down the mountains to Corvara (5,120’), a village in the Val Badia region where the once-isolated Ladin people still celebrate their ancient language and culture. Settle into our hotel and enjoy an evening of relaxation after this long day of hiking. (9-11 miles hiking, 5-7 hours)
Posta Zirm Hotel
From San Cassiano, set off into a pastoral landscape dotted with picturesque farmhouse hamlets, built in tight clusters known as viles since the Middle Ages. Ascend into a pine forest, breaking for views over the villages below and of the surrounding Dolomite peaks. Our destination is the Sanctuary of Santa Croce (6,710’), an elegantly simple 15th-century chapel set against the towering rock face of Sasso della Croce. Continue on to the nearby farmhouse of a Ladin shephard to sample turtres and other Ladin specialties for lunch. Afterwards, trek down to the valley town of San Leonardo, where we’ll catch a return transfer to Corvara. (7 miles hiking, 5-6 hours)
Posta Zirm Hotel
Today we’ll traverse the south face of the majestic Sella Massif, which rises up from green valleys like a hulking rock fortress. Begin from Passo Pordoi (7,345’) and zigzag up to Rifugio Forcella Pordoicopy. Follow the mountain’s dry and rocky terrain along its south face to the Rifugio Franz Kostner (8,366’), where we’ll stop for lunch. Weather permitting, you may also wish to tackle the steep, pyramid-like summit of Piz Boè (10,341’) before our break. Ride the gondola down to Passo Pordoi, and transfer to Welschnofen, located at the base of the famous Rosengarten Mountains. (7-9 miles hiking, 5-6 hours)
Begin the day with a drive up to the Karerpass, where we’ll catch a gondola to the Paolina Hut (6972’). We’ll find ourselves in the heart of the Rosengarten mountains, named for the brilliant rose-colored hues that emanate from their peaks at sunset. Make the circuit around Rotwand, one of the most massive mountain walls in the Alps. Return to our hotel at the base of the Rosengartens, which is perfectly positioned to take in the mountain’s colorful evening display. (7 miles hiking, 6 hours)
The day begins on the Seiser Alm, Europe’s largest high-alpine plateau. In the summer months, the meadow’s rolling green pastures are blanketed with colorful wildflowers and populated by grazing cattle. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through this idyllic landscape, and return to the valley for our transfer to the town of Bolzano. Here we’ll be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, home to Ötzi the iceman—a 5,000-year-old natural human mummy discovered by hikers in the nearby Ötztal Alps. (4 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Return to Venice, and take a guided walking tour of the city. Then gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate our adventure. The next morning, depart for your flight home.