The Dolomites – 10 things to do to make your holiday special!

You probably already have some ideas about what to do on your trip to the Dolomites, but the area has so much to offer which you might not know about, so let me give you some ideas!

 1) Ride a bike

The Dolomites has some of the best road cycling and mountain biking in the world. There are many hard climbs over beautiful passes, many of which are included in the Giro d’Italia, the second most famous bike race in he world after the Tour de France. The area around Casa Alfredino is used every year; Passo Giau, Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Fedaia – they are climbs synonymous with the event. The famous Sellaronda for example can be completed as a road bike trip or on a mountain bike. With 1800m of height gain it’s a serious undertaking and you need good fitness to complete it. You can rent bikes in La Villa, Corvara, Arabba, or Alleghe. For more detail take a read of our article specifically about the route!

Sophie, reaching Passo Sella on a fine afternoon with Marmolada in the background.
Sophie, reaching Passo Sella on a fine afternoon with Marmolada in the background.



The Giro d'Italia flies through Corvara on the way to Passo Gardena, May 26th 2017.
The Giro d’Italia flies through Corvara on the way to Passo Gardena, May 26th 2017.

If you are more into mountain biking, the tour is no less excellent, with the route well waymarked. You can either cycle up, or during the high season, use the lift system to transport your bike up leaving you to enjoy the long downhills. There are Enduro sections if you choose and an All Mountain set-up is recommended.

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2) Go for a walk away from the crowds

Casa Alfredino is located on the southern fringe of the most well known area of the Dolomites, which can be especially packed during August when literally the whole of Italy is on holiday. If you want to get away from the madding crowds then head to the south of the range. It’s much less developed and quieter and even in high season you can find quiet forests and high mountain walks on which you will find greater tranquility. Here are three of my favourites.

Cascata del Inferno: great for an off day, head to Valle San Lucano where you will drive beneath the enormous 1600m North Face of Monte Agner, worth the drive in itself. If you drive all the way to the end of the road, you can park, head up a mettled road and after 200 yards take the small track to the right waymarked to the cascades. The deepening gorge is home to some beautiful waterfalls, each one more impressive than the last.

Cavallaza from Passo Rolle: few people know of the Lagorai and its igneous mountains. Starting from Passo Rolle, head over the summit of Tognazza, then onwards to Cavalazza, before dropping to Lahgi di Colabricon. This stunning area is reminiscent of the Scottish or Welsh mountains, with hidden tarns, lush green vegetation and stunning views of the entirely different Pale di San Martino over the valley. There are the remains of some of the Austrian trenches in the mountains too, and the return to Passo Rolle is through dense coniferous forest. Again the drive over Passo Valles to get there is utterly stunning.

Looking across a high mountain tarn opposite the Pale di San Martino
Looking across a high mountain tarn opposite the Pale di San Martino near Passo Valles

Passo Staulanza to Passo giau: Park up at the Rifugio Citta dei Fiumi carpark, not far from Passo Staulanza. The walk up to the hut is a short 40 minute trek up a wide easy track affording views of Marmolada, Pelmo and Civetta. Continue up behind the hut and this leads you to a ridgeline from which you can see Antelao and Sorapiss aswell. The track leads easily over several minor passes through high alpine meadows and some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the Dolomites. By doing it in the direction suggested and starting early, you complete the route as a 500m climb and thus go in the opposite direction to most people, so for most of the day you will have the mountains to yourself. When you get to Passo Giau, hitch a lift back to the car park

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Rifugio Citta dei Fiumi with Marmolada in the background.
Alpine cows showing us some love

3) Visit Bolzano

Bolzano, the regional capital of Alto Adige/Sud Tirol has a beautiful old town well worth spending a day on – ideal for a rest day or if the rain comes in. It’s a 1hr 40 min drive from the house over Passo Fedaia and Passo Carezza where you will pass the UNESCO world Heritage site, Lago di Carreza beneath the Latemar towers. It has a splendid cathedral with a multi-coloured tiled roof, arched colonnades with lots of boutique shops, a street market, excellent restaurants (I can heartily recommend the Hopfen & Co Brewery), a museum dedicated to Otzi a prehistoric man who was found buried in a glacier not far away, Mountain Spirit and Sportler, two excellent climbing shops, and Salewa Head Quarters with a fantastic indoor climbing wall.

4) Wine tours

The Adige, Friuli and Prosecco regions are world famous for their wines. Indeed the Adige promotes a wine road and they have many excellent varieties, including Blauburgender/Pinot Nero, Grauvernatsch, Lagrein, Pinot Grigio of course and Eisacktaller. To the south and east of the house, you’ll find the Friuli wines like Riballo Giallo, and Proseccos in Valldobiadene and Conegliano amongst many many others, but also Grappa’s of all types.

5) Medieval castles and history

If you like historical sites you will be interested to know that during the middle ages the entire region as far as Milan was part of Bavaria. As a result it has a great number of beautiful castles, like Castello Andraz. Over the years it changed hands, ceeding to the Holy Roman Empire (indeed Merano, just 30 minutes from Bolzano was the regional capital for a very long time indeed and a papal seat – Castle Tyrol is worth a look if you are in the area) and then the Hapsburg Empire and Veneto, before finally becoming wholly Italian after the brutal battles fought here during the First World War. There are war forts and open air museums at Passo Valparola and high on the flanks of Marmolada which you can visit using the cable car.

Castello Andraz - a small medieval castle in a stunning mountain setting
Castello Andraz – a small medieval castle in a stunning mountain setting

6) Ice skating, swimming and fishing in Alleghe

If it’s so miserable you can’t get out into the mountains, then maybe indoor skating might pass some time; or on a sunny rest day you might want to unwind at the mountain beach set beneath the towering Civetta. You can rent pedallo’s, go fishing, walk by the lake and generally unwind.

Pedallo fun on Lago di Alleghe with the mighty Civetta NW wall above.
Pedallo fun on Lago di Alleghe with the mighty Civetta NW wall above.

7) The Civetta Zipline and the Civetta adventure park

For those of you who have no issues with throwing yourself of a perfectly good mountainside, the Civetta Zipline is a huge 1600m 2 stage line in San Tomaso Agordino, just south of Alleghe. Reaching speeds of up to 80kmh, it crosses a huge ravine twice up to 160m above the ground and descends 260m!

Meanwhile for kids there is a treetop adventure park; take the first stage of the Alleghe cable car up to Pian di Pezze where you will find quite a few different activities for children and this excellent high rise obstacle course!

8) Go sport climbing

If you are a climber you’ll most likely know lots about the famous alpine and trad climbing in the area. But most will not know that we have some superb sport climbing in our area: the best are Sass di Roccia at Laste, Val di Gares, Castello Andraz, Sass di Dlacia and Cinque Torri. All you need is a single rope, some quickdraws, a harness and some climbing shoes. Val di Gares and Andraz in particular are in ideal family friendly settings, in the woods with shade and a beautiful setting. If you would like a taster, we can arrange for a qualified guide to lead you for a day!

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One of our local sport climbing crags at Malga Ciapela. A lovely spot although a bit tough, with rough, steep, pocketed limestone and routes from 6a+

9) Stay at a hut for a night

There is absolutely nothing like hiking up to a hut and settling down with a glass of wine to watch the sun set over the mountains, and then the excitement of waking up to an equally glorious sunrise; I find it hard to sleep! We are surrounded by great places to stay – just ring up before you set off to book a spot. You can expect to pay around 45-50 euro per person including dinner and a basic breakfast. Here are some of the best:

Rifugio Falier 1hr45 walk from the trailhead, or 2hr15 from Malga Ciapela campsite when the road above this is closed during August.

Rifugio Citta di Fiume 1hr walk from the car park

Rifugio Viel dal Pan 1hr10 walk from Passo Fedaia – quite steep but with excellent views

Rifugio Cappana Piz Fassa 1hr30 walk from Piz Pordoi, which you can access using a cable car. This is a tiny hut, at the very top of the Sella Massif with only 20 sleeping spaces, so bookings are non refundable.

Rifugio des Alpes Accessible by cable car from Campitello di Fassa, or by a 1 hour walk from Passo Sella

Tierser Alpl Hutte a 2hr 30 walk from Campitello di Fassa, or 2hr 30 from Passo Sella – either version is delightful, although the latter has more spectacular views. Or walkin from Sella pass, then walk down to Campitello the next day and catch a lift back up to return to Passo Sella

Rifugio Fronza alla Coronelle A 15 minute lift ride from Via Nigra below the Cantenaccio

10) Eat, drink and be merry

Italian food is renowned the world over and the Dolomites is no exception. With a superb mix of traditional local Tyrolian, Fodom and Ladin dishes and of course pastas and pizzas, you can dine in style. Add in the great wines mentioned above and you have a winning mix. Even food at huts is usually of excellent quality and very reasonably priced, so don’t worry about your lunch time sarnies and get stuck in. Speck, canederli, roe deer and venison stews, goulash, casunsiei and porcini mushrooms are delicacies not to be missed and feature on most menus in our area.

A spot of lunch at the excellent Rifugio Castiglioni situated beneath the ramparts of Sassolungo. A fantastic hour long walk to a lunchspot with a kids play area and superb food.
A spot of lunch at the excellent Rifugio Castiglioni situated beneath the ramparts of Sassolungo. A fantastic hour long walk to a lunchspot with a kids play area and superb food.

Via delle Trincee – history and fantastic climbing

Lying between the Marmolada and Sella Massif’s is La Mesoles and Monte Padon, a geological anomaly. You’d be forgiven for thinking that with a name like the Dolomites, that they are one homogeneous lump of their namesake rock. They are anything but. With the massive calcareous limestone bulk of Marmolada, the Granite of Cima d’Asta and the Lagorai, the underlying Porphyry of Alpi di Siusi and the western regions, this jagged ridge just adds to the variety. Its dark volcanic rock, not only does it provide a substantially different climbing experience but visually its striking, with at points a true knife edge ridge which affords superb, technical, exposed scrambling and climbing with outrageously good, uninterrupted views across the Dolomites. Not only this, but with its rich history as a WW1 front line trench, its hugely interesting. This is absolutely one of the best Via Ferrata I’ve done anywhere!


Approach can be achieved very easily by taking a lift from Arabba to Porto Vescovo, or from Malga Ciapela to Monte Padon. Or if you want to avoid the lifts, either walk up the piste from Rifugio Passo Fedaia until you can walk westwards towards Porto Vescovo, or attack directly from the western end of Lago Fedaia with a steep ascent to the start.


The difficulties commence rather abruptly – the start is technically difficult and it is a rude awakening. Please make sure that you space yourselves adequately in this area, as it is vertical, a little slippy, and a fall into somebody else could be really nasty here. If you are with inexperienced climbers, consider taking a short rope to belay them from one of the higher anchor points. Once over these first 40 feet of climbing the difficulty eases, but the exposure begins. Weaving its way between fantastic pillars of rock the route climbs over the jagged crest of the ridge, hardly deviating from its top, like a crazy Crib Goch; the black rock is grippy and rough and very different to anything in these parts. Looking back along the ridge you realise just how precarious the line is, crossing bridges, circumnavigating slender pinnacles.



And then quite abruptly, in a col, you reach the first of the war remains, some ruined barracks perched nearly at the very crest of the ridge – an inhospitable place indeed to find yourself in the long winter. Walking through, only feet from the edge makes you realise how tough the men who were stationed here must have been. As soon as it arrived it’s gone again as you drop over an edge and into the abyss – following rungs inexorably downwards until you can once again rejoin a flatter section of ridge line. Here end the main difficulties, with the rest being fun walking and towards the end you reach the tunnels. Here having a torch is mandatory!




The tunnels wind their way through the bowels of the cliff with galleries leading off into the darkness and only the occasional opening out to the southern side – presumably gun emplacements. In places they are long halls, in others only just tall enough and wide enough to afford passage whilst bending double. Inbetween there are further sections of ridge line, until finally you emerge out of a tunnel just above Passo Padon. Here, those who approached from Arabba must drop down to the path on the southern side of the ridge and return to Porto Vescovo, whilst those coming from Passo Fedaia can walk down the hillside using the ski slopes, or the lift.