FATHOM – Climbing and Drinking Our Way Through the Dolomites

FATHOM – Climbing and Drinking Our Way Through the Dolomites

A few years ago, we named the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy one of the best places to travel in 2019. And while so much has changed in the last three years, the appeal of the Dolomites has not waned, especially for outdoor pursuits all year long. Contributing editor Jane Larkworthy reports on the action.

DOLOMITES, Italy – The Dolomite Mountains have been on a roll. Long a favorite of skiers, this range in northeastern Italy became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, and the Olympic Committee has named Cortina d'Ampezzo the home of the 2026 Winter Games. (Technically, they’re sharing the hosting with Milan. Is runway walking a sport?)

My family are mountain people — sort of. We live in New York City, but spend every weekend hiking in the Berkshires, and most vacations involve skiing either the Colorado or Canadian Rockies or Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. The summer before the pandemic, we packed our passports, hiking boots, and expandable pants and headed to San Cassiano in the South Tyrol province in Italy to see if we could hike and eat speck at (nearly) the same time.

There are two ways to reach San Cassiano, where we spent our first night. Either head west just north of Lago di Santa Croce, or make that westward turn further north at Cortina d’Ampezzo. If being near a Moncler boutique is important, park yourself at Cortina. If, however, food and hopes of re-creating the opening number from Sound of Music are more your speed, drive the extra 40 minutes to explore Corvara, Colfosco, San Cassiano, La Villa, Badia, and La Val — the six villages that comprise the breathtaking area known as Alta Badia. Each delivers some serious Heidi-style mountain charm, and while these hamlets probably aren’t close enough to traverse by walking, each does seem practically around the bend from the one you just went through, so the drive among them is a quick one.

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