THE FINEST HOTEL IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

[SAN CASSIANO IN ALTA BADIA, ITALY] — When I checked into the luxury boutique hotel Rosa Alpina,  a man was standing there off to the side, bouncing a baby in his right arm, baby projecting out like a cat. “Oh Hi, we’ve been waiting for you. I’d shake your hand… but the baby…” and reached out his left hand. And so it started like that. ________________________________________ It had been almost two years to the week since I was last in San Cassiano in Val Badia, the Ladin-speaking lush valleys that make up the heart of the Süd Tirol area of the Italian Dolomites. An area where everything is listed in three languages. Ladin — an ancient language that goes back to Roman times, spoken only in

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THE PERFECT HOTEL TO EXPLORE THE BRENTA DOLOMITES

[BRENTA DOLOMITES, ITALY] — During the ski season, Madonna di Campiglio attracts people from all over the world. During the “off season” — which I can’t relieve believe they call it that, it is such a gorgeous time of year — it is uncrowded and the scenery is just jaw-dropping. And the view from the boutique luxury BioHotel Hermitage in the Dolomites of Italy is about as great as any I’ve seen. Stunning. _________________________________________________ We were sad to leave Milano, but we were jonesing for the next stop. After a quick lunch in quaint medieval Bergamo, finally we went, up into the Dolomites. Spindly little roads needling through small mountain towns, we threaded our way up the spine, chuffed by a long rough patch, waiting

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THREE GREAT HIKES IN ALTA BADIA IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

[ALTA BADIA, TRENTINO] — After a four hour hike down the mountain, it was finally time for a late lunch. Stanky and sweaty, I rolled into this cute little rifugio out in the woods, accessible only by foot or the brave souls driving up the narrow less-than-one-lane path — so tight the cars forced the hikers to lean their butts and packs over the wood rail fence lining the lane as they passed. I was hangry by then 👹 so hearty venison medallions in a juniper sauce, grilled mushrooms and rustic polenta seemed just perfect. And a couple of glasses of Lagrein to wash it all down.  About as good of a meal as it gets, especially in a place so inaccessible. The sun casting

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TWO GREAT HIKES IN VAL GARDENA IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

[VAL GARDENA, BOLZANO] — We were on a long gondola ride heading up a long valley of undulating hills outside of the beautiful town of Ortisei, no doubt perfect ski runs in the winter. But it was summer, off season, so everything was super lush and green, hardly anybody around. The lift pauses at one skier drop-off then continues on, up up up and over a steep massive wall of granite, still shaded by the stark morning sun, darkening the interior of the gondola so much that you had to take off your sunglasses.  Suddenly, you pop over the ridge and you’re thrust into the bright summer sun. Stammering to get your bearings again. We scrambled off, the hustling gondola nipping at our heels like a

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FORGET SKIING, SUMMER IS THE BEST TIME TO EXPLORE THE SUD TYROL

[VAL BADIA, ITALY] — You read a lot of about skiing in the Dolomites of Italy, but I can’t believe how little is written about how amazing the Dolomiti are in summer. In the winter, rates are high, availability is low and restaurants are hard to get into. But in the summer, what they call the “off season”, the rates are a fraction of winter, the crowds are small and you almost have the hiking trails to yourself. The Dolomites are aren’t just one range, but dozens. Kinda confusing, especially for me, to piece it all together. It’s all called “Dolomites” or “Alto Adige” and “Süd Tyrol” … and in a part of Italy that was once part of Austria. So the names are always in

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TAKE A LONG HIKE THROUGH ALTA BADIA IN THE ITALIAN DOLOMITES

[VAL BADIA, ITALY] — The Dolomites are aren’t just one range, but dozens. Kinda confusing, especially for me, to piece it all together. It’s all called “Dolomites” or “Alto Adige” and “Süd Tyrol” … and in a part of Italy that was once part of Austria. So the names are always in three languages. But no matter what you call it, go there. I’ve previously posted pics from the Brenta range. These are just from Val Badia (or also called Alta Badia!), a spectacular valley that is just a fraction of the Dolomites greatness. I can’t wait to go back and figure out the rest. I recommend basing out of the cute as a button San Cassiano village, a glamorous little ski village, but in the summer

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GO FOR A HIKE IN THE BRENTA DOLOMITES.

[TRENTINO–ITALY] — “Theeesa ees the one.” she said, in that lovely Italan way of needing to add a vowel onto every word. “Theesa one is da best hika in the valley. And ifa you go heer, ita isa the besta viewa inaalla da Dolomites.” That’s Barbara, the owner of my splendid hotel in the Brenta region of the Italian Dolomites. There isn’t just one Dolomite, but many different ranges. But many say this is one of the best sections, centered around the Madonna di Compiglio ski resort, tucked into a valley with over sixty lifts going in all directions. Those looking for some Vail symmetry and organization, this is done the Italian way. Organically, over the time, with lifts taking off in different directions, lobbing people

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