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With over 6000 square miles to explore in Italy’s Dolomite mountain region, we decided to make our home base in the town of Castelrotto/Kastelruth near the area of the Alpe Di Suisi (in Italian, or Seiser Alm in German). This high alpine meadow claims to be the highest and one of the largest alpine meadows in Europe at an altitude of approximately one mile above sea level and covering an area of approximately 23 square miles.
The area is very popular for skiing and snowboarding in winter, and hiking in summer. My husband, daughter and I were visiting in the third week of May, and while many of the higher altitude lifts to the various hiking trails were not yet running, the main cable car from the town of Siusi to the Compaccio high alpine access point had just opened. The cable car is impressive – it is about two miles in length and it takes about 15 minutes to climb the half mile elevation gain to the top.
From the Compaccio access point you can take other lifts to higher altitude trails (once they are open for the summer) or you have a choice of a number of hikes that cover the meadow. Trails are well maintained and well marked. We decided to do a loop that basically followed the edge of the plateau and would hopefully give us the best and most diverse views of the mountains and the valleys. We were not disappointed! It did not hurt that the trails we chose also had two restaurants along the way – we were learning to hike like Italians!
The sun was shining, the sky was a clear blue, and the cuckoo birds were singing as we hiked. Unlike their wooden imitation cousins in a cuckoo clock that only chime each hour, the real cuckoo bird will sing its call continuously. The sound of the real bird is exactly like the one we are familiar with from the clock, but it lasts much, much longer. You either like it or you get tired of it pretty fast.
The views wee extremely scenic and photogenic and it was hard not to take a photo every few hundred yards, even though the scenery may not have changed much. In the interest of brevity, I’ll only share a few of my favorites.
Besides the views, the restaurants along the way also added to the pleasant experience. Lunch at one alpine “hut” (Arnika Hutte) and a refreshing and well deserved beer at the next one (Pufflatschhutte). Saluti!
I really enjoyed exploring this region of Italy’s Dolomites. With such a large area, there was much we did not get to see and I look forward to going back and visiting other regions of this vast mountain range and hiking again like an Italian.
Thanks for visiting.