San Genesio Atesino
We discovered a small town at 1,200 meters San Genesio Atesino, where time seems to stand still and you will run into a little girl Heidi and her grandfather at any moment. We probably saw the grandfather because those white beards and suspenders worn by older residents are a unique style characteristic of that region.
After the summer crowds and heat on the beaches, we decided to seek refreshment in the mountains at the end of August and chose a route through the Italian Dolomites. From the Trentino Alto Adige region, this time we chose the Alto Adige side. We discovered a small town at 1,200 meters San Genesio Atesino, where time seems to stand still and you will run into a little girl Heidi and her grandfather at any moment. We probably saw the grandfather because those white beards and suspenders worn by older residents are a unique style characteristic of that area. San Genesio Atesino, with its 3,000 inhabitants, offers a relaxing time on a sunny high plateau with a beautiful view of the Dolomites – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Salto plateau with the largest larch meadows in Europe invites you to ride the famous Haflinger horses, hike, bike tours and other activities. Also, the place boasts the most chestnut trees in South Tyrol, as well as the highest number of sunny days. The accommodation we found is a combination of two hotels, Saltus with modern Scandinavian design and Tschoegllbergerhof with a typical Tyrolean interior. They will win you over with their infinity pool with a breathtaking view, wellness completely immersed in the forest and local specialties, full of flavor, made from fresh vegetables from their garden. Rest and pleasure are guaranteed here.
Nearby is the beautiful town of Bolzano. Be sure to take a walk through the medieval narrow streets, which are decorated with different architectural styles, at times colorful and gentle, and as soon as you turn the corner, they become imposing and blocky. Bolzano belonged to Italy for most of the 20th century, so its identity is divided. About a quarter of Bolzano’s population still speaks German. Everything in the city has both a German and an Italian name, and the Bolzano region can boast of its high quality of life compared to the rest of Italy. The place is also famous for its archaeological museum, where everyone comes to see the Ötzi exhibit, a mummified body from 5300 years ago found frozen in the nearby Alps.
Lago di Braies
When the Dolomites are mentioned, one of the leading attractions and symbols of that part of Italy is certainly Lake Lago di Braies, or Pragser Wildsee. Even if you don’t know anything about the Dolomites, you’ve already seen a photo of that beautiful lake somewhere. It is the most photographed attraction in South Tyrol, and due to its great popularity on social networks, it attracts many visitors throughout the year. Therefore, we also headed there, and the lake is an hour and a half drive from Bolzano. So many visitors come to admire this beauty that from 2021, in the heart of the summer season, a special regulation was introduced that limits the number of tourists in order to protect the lake and the nature around it. By the way, Lago di Braies is part of the Fanes-Senes-Braies National Park, and is located at the foot of the Croda del Becco (Seekofel) mountain, which stretches up to 2,810 meters above sea level.
In connection with the most famous lake in the Dolomites, there is also a story about sunken Nazi treasure. During World War II, the Germans used the famous Hotel Lago di Braies as their base. After Germany lost the war, the Nazis allegedly hid 10 tons of gold, and it should still lie at the bottom of the sea today. The treasure was never found, but the story is still circulating, so those with an investigative spirit should take a look around.
Brunico & Kronplatz
It is half an hour’s drive from the town of Brunico to the lake, and it is also connected by buses, so we recommend that you settle in Brunico and discover its charms. Located in the green Puster Valley, Brunico, or Bruneck in German, is a historic city steeped in rich Italian and Austrian culture. Brunico is an ancient settlement, the relics found in it date back to the Roman Empire and even to the Stone Age. Many of the most beautiful medieval buildings in the city have been carefully maintained over the centuries. For many, the first stop after breakfast is impressive – Brunico Castle. Perched high on a hilltop, this dramatic building looks like it could be Dracula’s home. For all nature lovers, you can visit the fascinating mountain heritage museum RIPA or discover the beauty of the nearby Kronplatz mountain.
In addition to skiers and mountaineers, Kronplatz has become a destination for food lovers as well, so we headed to the top by cable car, a 15-minute ride, to have lunch at the famous Michelin restaurant AlpinNN Food&Space. Located at an altitude of 2,000 meters in the Plan de Corones ski area, the restaurant is located next to Lumen, a museum dedicated to mountain photography. This impressive project by Norbert Niederkofler, holder of three Michelin stars, showcases the chef’s “Cook the Mountain” philosophy, where a modern approach and alpine traditions combine to create perfect dishes full of flavor and historical appeal. The restaurant is completely glazed, so it offers a unique experience of enjoying a meal while sitting on the clouds.
After visiting the Dolomites, the conclusion is certainly that the beaches and the sea are overrated, and that a visit to the mountains is the cherry on top of every vacation.