This week’s dream
Off-season in the Dolomites
“Of all the pleasures in life, picnicking on a mountain while surrounded by even higher mountains is among my favorites,” said Rachel Walker in The Washington Post. Earlier this year, I had the glorious opportunity to eat salami and mozzarella sandwiches atop Monte Castellazzo (7,650 feet) in Italy’s Dolomite mountains. Though the rugged range is most popular during ski season, “there is no perfect time to visit,” because “each month has its own appeal.” Hiking with a guide and a friend, I was rendered speechless when we emerged from forest onto a ridge. “Ahead of us, mountains powered out of the earth, bold giants of rock and ice with patches of snow clinging to the exposed cliffs, creating a beautiful mosaic of gray and white leaning into the sharp, blue sky.”
Trails, trams, and chairlifts connect the charming mountain villages of the Trentino-Sudtirol region, creating “an extensive adventure network” that attracts skiers, hikers, cyclists, rock climbers, and even fly fishermen. When I asked my guide, Sandro de Zolt, to recommend a beautiful hike near Lake Garda, he told me to simply park by the church in Pregasina and take any of the trails beginning there. Trail 422A skirted the land’s edge, and the peak-flanked lake stretched to the horizon. “On my left was a sheer drop, hundreds of feet to the water, where sailboats bobbed like tiny toys. On my right, the forest thickened and burst with the sound of songbirds.” Returning, I stopped in the town of Arco, where I savored the creamiest pistachio gelato I’d had all trip. “Which is saying something, given the amount of gelato I consumed.”
The people of the Dolomites are hearty folk, and many live in old Tyrolean-style chalets. I witnessed the local bonhomie as soon as I arrived in Trento. My trip coincided with Giro d’Italia, a three-week, multistage race featuring some of the world’s best cyclists. Hearing a commotion, I joined hundreds of Italians gathered in the town’s cobblestone plaza to cheer the contestants as they whooshed past. “I marveled at the riders’ passion, but it was the energy of the crowd—a friendly, determined spirit I would encounter throughout my week—that most impressed me.”
At Hotel Garni Laurino outside Trento (hotelgarnilaurino.it/en), rooms start at $170.