Your essential guide to Trentino: Italy’s year-round natural playground

When a part of the world is as dominated by mountains as Trentino in glorious northern Italy undeniably is, it can be easy to forget that there are four seasons each year.

Standing in late winter atop the tangle of ski slopes that drape conveniently over the steep slopes above the town of Madonna di Campiglio, gazing admiringly at a vast blanket of crisp white snow slightly yellowed by the drifting sands of the Sahara desert blown from afar by unseen winds and shadowed by the towering mountain peaks of the Dolomites behind me and the Alps ahead, it’s hard to conceive what it would all look like outside from the icy grip of winter.

As my mind wanders and contemplates the beauty of the surroundings, my local mountain guide, Marco Maganzini, snaps me out of my reverie with another year-round derring story that unwittingly answers my question. The truth is, this place is a playground any day of the year, snowy or not.

Indeed, where we stand at this precise point, Marco says, transforms into an outdoor concert area in the summer where guests lounge on carpets of perfect green grass and enjoy the natural acoustics of the area to enjoy classical and rock concerts. The trails we ski tour will soon be intertwined with tracks studded with hiking boots and mountain bikers’ tires. The frozen ice falls clinging to the shaded rock walls will slowly melt away, but climbers and adrenaline seekers will remain, swapping crampons for climbing shoes in search of new heights.

The Trentino region is ideally located a few hours north of Milan and Venice, bordering Lake Garda to the south and stretching north bordering not only the Alps, but also the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites. UNESCO. Its unique landscapes incorporate picture-perfect villages and towns, rolling green hills and vast lakes, all against a backdrop of ubiquitous mountains – the kind of European settings you read about in novels and skimmed pictures in glossy magazines. Here are the essentials for any visit, no matter when you go.

Where to stay

Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomites

Situated above the town of Pinzolo in the Rendena Valley amid the pine and fir forests that cover the lower slopes of the Dolomites, Lefay Dolomiti is a sanctuary of wood, stone and glass of luxury, relaxation and recovery.

Designed and built with a classic alpine retreat aesthetic that helps belie its sizable footprint, the Lefay does a spectacular job of blending into its natural surroundings. Cleverly drawing the exterior through acres of floor-to-ceiling windows and a design theme that embraces the region’s raw, natural materials and elevates them to elegance and comfort, the whole place feels warm and comforting. – exactly what you need after a day in the mountains.

This ode to nature permeates nearly every aspect of not only the hotel’s design but Lefay’s commitment to keeping things as green as possible. Green Globe and ClimaHotel certifications and a commitment to fully offset carbon emissions show good intentions not only to use but also to contribute to the hotel’s fabulous but fragile environment.

Spread across floors and buildings, the eighty-eight rooms and suites ensure that your exercise routine doesn’t stop when you step off the gondola. But navigating elevators and long hallways is a small price to pay for the reward each room offers — five-star everything, including views from spacious balconies (take your pick of gazing at the Alps or the Dolomites).

Lefay’s real gem is its spa. Four levels, 54,000 square feet and an entire floor of treatment rooms in which to embark on the “Lefay SPA Method” – a combination of classical Chinese treatments and Western scientific research. Upstairs, a huge swimming pool invites you to swim from inside to outside via a silent sliding glass wall and reflect on your insignificance in the face of Mother Nature’s enormity (while enjoying a pleasant massage bubbles from the hot tub seats scattered below the waterline).

Step down one level and you’ll enter the adults-only spa area, nearly 20,000 square feet of sauna, steam, and soaking options arranged in seasons with varying temperatures and humidities that you can follow as you see fit. . Enter the Green Dragon, Red Phoenix or White Tiger zones to restore your inner zen before embarking on “the path of the black turtle”. Admittedly, it all seems very theatrical, but once there, decked out in a soft white robe, silently and contemplatively moving from Dragon to Tiger to Tortoise, it somehow feels like the most natural thing in the world. !

Where to eat

Grual in Lefay Dolomiti

Staying at Lefay makes you a local at one of the area’s best restaurants, Grual (named after a local mountain despite the unfortunate similarity to Charles Dickens’ food). Olivier – although you will certainly want more…) Refined cuisine in a quite extraordinary setting, the executive chef has created a seasonal “altimetric” menu that highlights Trentino ingredients picked at different altitudes on the surrounding mountains. From the bottom of the valley, pick sardines and radicchio from the lake, red turnip and stravecchio nostrano (a regional hard cheese) from the mountain pasture, and arctic char or high mountain roe deer, for n to name a few. The combination of fresh local and seasonal ingredients creates dishes that are unique, delicious and appropriate to the location.

Rendenèr alpine cuisine

Tucked away behind an innocuous suburban street in Pinzolo, the newly opened Restaurant Rendenèr has been the talk of the town with its warm, friendly service and flavorful interpretations of regional Alpine and Italian classics. The menu changes seasonally, but keep your hopes up for local pork belly or squid ink spaghetti, though if they’re absent, the regional specialty polenta is a staple that always gets rave reviews. . Let the knowledgeable waiter-maitre pair your dishes with regional wines and plan a long lunch or a longer evening.

Mildas

Ancient Mildas serves up a history as rich as its food from its 14th-century convent in the small town of Giostino. Entertainingly decorated with accessories that tell the story of the resident Pizzini family, but it’s the historic and hearty traditional family recipes that bring locals and visitors back time and time again. From gnocchi to risotto, the now ubiquitous polenta to herbed tenderloin steak, there’s plenty to choose from, but if you’re organized enough, call a day ahead and pre-order the traditional menu for the ultimate local dining experience.

Rifugio Boch

It would be remiss to talk about Trentino food without mentioning at least one mountaintop retreat. There are plenty of mountainside restaurants with accommodation (commonly referred to as “huts”), but the Rifugio Boch is a culinary marvel at around 8,000 feet serving the thousands of skiers, snowboarders, hikers, bikers, climbers and dreamers who trek the slopes every week from his stocked canteen. But if you have the time and the inclination, head upstairs and sample the delights of the restaurant proper for gourmet northern Italian cuisine with stunning views – all easily accessible from the Express Groste lift via Madonna di Campiglio.

What to do

Skiing and Snowboarding

The largest ski area in Trentino is the Campiglio Dolomiti di Brenta – almost 100 miles of slopes and runs; four snowboard parks; long and spectacular gondola rides; and a single ski pass that gives you easy access to the whole lot. For the more adventurous, freeride and off-piste skiing is abundant with expert guides available to take you on wilderness ski tours where it’s just you, your thoughts and the mountains for company.

The wider ski area of ​​the Dolomites covers around 800 km of pistes, which is more than most skiers will cover in their lifetime. And with a ski season that runs from late November to mid-April and an abundance of runs and terrain for all skill levels, but minus the crowds of the more famous resorts, the snowy run is just as good. than guaranteed.

Hiking and biking

Once the snow has melted, the Adamello Brenta Natural Park offers just as many thrills on two feet or on two wheels. Mountain bike trails criss-cross the slopes with dedicated, challenging trails and gondolas operating year-round so you can skip the long climb and instead enjoy the terrifying descent.

If road cycling is more your thing, descend from the mountains and ride the DOGA cycling circuit that connects the Dolomites with the altogether more serene Lake Garda for a change of pace and scenery.

Climbing and trekking

If your kicks are coming from more extreme situations, these steep spikes should more than suffice. From treacherous ice climbs in the winter and guided via ferrata tours (fixed rope lines that novices can follow) in the summer to the awe-inspiring challenge of climbing the Via delle Normali through the peaks of the Brenta Dolomites, you can choose the level of difficulty and intensity, whether it’s a novice afternoon excursion or an epic multi-day combination of hiking and climbing that encompasses the best of the magnificent Dolomites.

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