Lying about 75 miles north of Venice, the Dolomites comprise an astonishing range of jagged limestone peaks. The area’s main town, Cortina d’Ampezzo, is a renowned ski resort, but the most spectacular part of the Dolomites is arguably the Alta Badia, immediately to the west. This unspoiled region is dotted with charming Alpine villages such as Corvara and San Cassiano. Although territorially part of Italy, the Dolomites still possess a strong independent streak, one that is reflected in the distinctive gastronomy — far more German than it is Italian. Menus feature canederli (bread dumplings), spätzle (egg noodles) and gulasch (a stew of beef, venison or wild boar). The most celebrated local product is speck, a ham that is dry-cured by salt, smoke and fresh air. Numerous high-altitude footpaths traverse the region, such as the trail across the Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest high-alpine meadow.
Some of the region’s best wines are made by Alois Lageder, run by a sixth generation of winemakers. For tastings and purchases, visit the Vineria Paradeis in the village of Magrè (closed Sunday). We particularly enjoy the refined Pinot Bianco Dolomiti and Pinot Grigio Dolomiti.
The spa town of Merano is renowned for its ancient grape cure. Exquisite paths wind through town to the 11th-century Castel Tirolo, which houses a museum dedicated to the history of Südtirol (closed until March of 2021).