Italy Sports & Outdoors Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination
Italy Sports & Outdoors: 17 reviews and 23 photos
Dolomiti (or Dolomites for non-Italians) is prime hiking in northern Italy and well known among alpinists and day hikers alike. But it can be crowded during the season and also more on the expensive side. For those who seek the less hiked paths without having to relinquish splendid scenery, the northern part of Italy’s region Alto Adige (Südtirol in local language) is an excellent alternative. Especially the valleys of Alta Val Isarco (Wipptal) and Val Isarco (Eisacktal) are of a special beauty with mountains up to 3200 m. The website below mentions a total of more than 17.000 km of hiking trails. My most favourite parts are the mountains around Mules (Mauls) I stayed several times in a little pension of a mountain farmer family and we did amazing day hikes through splendid nature. Especially in late spring and autumn it is marvellous with meadows in full wildflower blossom and an abundance of mushrooms. In summer, when the traditional alp farmers are having their livestock up in the mountains, they will always serve milk and cheese to the hungry hikers.
The website of Alto Adige (Südtirol) below is excellent. It is a portal with loads of information about the valleys, with atmospheric videos, with hiking trails for all seasons. Most of the given trails are linked to a topographic map and each has a detailed hike description.
Mauls/Mules on Google Maps
© Ingrid D., December 2010 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Val Grande, Alpe Scaredi
The majority of hiking trails in Italy’s northern regions are well marked and dotted with service huts (refugio, refugi in Italian) which provide meal and food service and beds. But there are still some wilderness parts with prime hiking paths, although for backpackers with serious backcountry experience and physical fitness only. Val Grande is certainly one of these. The name “Val” (valley) is a little bit misleading because Val Grande is more of a system of small valleys surrounded by high mountains which almost form a circle. It is located northwest of Lago Maggiore, points of entry are Malesco (from the east and north) and Cicogna (from the south). I cannot say anything about public access since we came by car but doubt that there is a regular bus service to the houses at the end of the entry roads.
Hiking in this pristine wilderness is magnificent. The trails aren’t well marked as a whole but are easy to follow with a sense of directions and orientation ability (the ones who don’t hike with GPS know what I mean, haha). Not that millions of hikers come every year but the occasional ones are enough to show where people walked before. Enough huts provide shelter for the night, but are all non-serviced, so bring all you need. The huts I stayed at (October 2007) had a stove for cooking and heating which was to be fired with logwood. Logwood was available, but keep in mind that in all these huts without service: it is expected (as an unwritten rule among hikers) to fill up whatever was used. Some huts had cooking pots and other cooking stuff but since it is never clear how many people would stay in one of the huts per night it is better to bring own gear. We were happy to have these with us one night where a group of 30 Italian students met and each pot and pan was in use. The hiking paths lead along former shepherd stone huts, many of them abandoned or already deeply decayed. Though when we hiked “out” of the valley, we passed a nice small collection of alpine pastures which looked like they are in use in summer.
Water is abundant, either in form of small creeks or at fountains at the huts. It is safe to drink the water without additional purification, at least inside of the valley, since no one is herding animals anymore.
Bring proper gear and go only if you are experienced enough. Never hike alone in Val Grande. The trails are steep in places (no climbing though) but often over stones without “handrail” or similar means of hiking help. It is a wilderness. Check the weather forecast properly. Weather can be unpredictable especially in this part of the Alps. While we had good weather almost all the time, fog came up in the morning of our last day and at times visibility was almost zero or at least a couple of metres only. Map, compass and good orientation skills are a must.
Val Grande on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., August 2010 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
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