How to visit the Dolomites, Italy and its Top 20 unmissable destinations

Visit the Dolomites - Val di Funes

A complete itinerary about how to visit the Dolomites, Italy, in summer time: top 20 destinations, how to drive there, interactive map and travel tips.

Why should you visit the Dolomites?

Well, imagine long, deep mountain valleys, dense forests, bubbling rivers. Add still, cold lakes spread across the landscape, guarded everywhere by the dramatic pink-grey walls of stunning mountains.

Dolomites views are simply magic, and seem nicked straight off the pages of a fairy tale.

The Dolomites are simply one of the most beautiful and amazing destinations in Italy. That’s why you should have them in your bucket list.

Visit the Dolomites - Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Dolomites landscape – photo credits www.rei_.com

Even though they are mostly known for their amazing sky slopes, visiting the Dolomites in summer time is an experience you shouldn’t miss.

In this post I will share the answers to the most common questions about how to visit the Dolomites:

  •  When is the best time to visit Dolomites?
  • How to get to the Dolomites? Which airport is closest to the Dolomites?
  • What is the great Dolomites road? What is the great Dolomites road driving time?
  • What are the top Dolomite destinations, and how to get there by car?

Continue reading “How to visit the Dolomites, Italy and its Top 20 unmissable destinations”

Advertisements

Most romantic places in Italy, off the beaten path

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Top romantic places in Italy, the most romantic destination you could think of. Here are Italy most romantic off the beaten path Italian destinations

Saint Valentine day is getting closer, and you still don’t know were to go with your beloved one? Then here is my personal selection of the most romantic destinations in Italy!

Are you thinking of Venice, the Amalfi Cost, Bellagio, Capri, the Cinque Terre? Much too easy! Of course, these are fantastic places, full of romance, atmosphere, history, candle light dinners… and tourists! Yes, because since they are so famous, they easily get crowded (and expensive!). Don’t you think your love deserves destinations off the beaten path, getaways to be discovered in (nearly) solitude, hands in hands, pretending you are there all alone?

If the answer is “Yes!”, then this is the right post for you. And, by the way, you don’t need to wait for Saint Valentine day to visit these destinations, they are fantastic all year round!

Italy most romantic places - Map

 Italy most romantic place #1: Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet

Well, Verona is not exactly “Off the beaten path”, but it is surely underrated compared to nearby Venice. In fact, ever since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet drama, Verona has been the portrait of the Italian romantic city (and it surely is!). That’s why I picked it up to start our tour.

Unsurprisingly, in Verona you will find Juliet’s house, complete with her balcony and statue, as well as thousands of love letters tucked into the wall around Valentine’s Day (you can even write one yourself!)

But Verona is much more than that, and its air of romance doesn’t come by association alone. You’ll have plenty of romantic options: enjoying an old fashioned carriage ride, strolling along the river and in the narrow old streets, or relaxing in an outdoor cafe on a renaissance square.

My personal top choices for a romantic walk are Piazza delle Erbe (where you can sit and have an Aperitivo while enjoying the beautiful setting), the old bridge, the Roman theater and, of course, the fantastic views from the belvedere at Giardino Giusti (one of the most notable renaissance gardens in Northern Italy).

By far the most romantic (and, in general, best) accommodation in Verona is the Palazzo Victoria hotel. Palazzo Victoria is located in the very heart of Verona, a few steps away from Juliet Balcony. Everything here is luxury and elegant.

Italy most romantic place #2: Villa d’Este gardens and fountains in Tivoli

Villa d’Este, with its fabulous palace, garden and fountains, is one of the most remarkable Italian Renaissance accomplishments, and, in my view, an incredibly romantic place, especially when visited after sunset. It is located in the small town of Tivoli, 30 km from Rome.

Villa d’Este displays an incredible concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, plays of water, and music (water powered!) and is a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden. It is rather far from traditional touristic itineraries, and it’s about one/one and a half hours from Rome. For these reasons, it never gets very crowded, and if you go thee during week days, chances are that you will be nearly alone.

During summer time, Villa d’Este is opened also after sunset, and that’s pure magic!

If you spend the night in Tivoli, you should also dedicate some time to visit the fascinating and hyper romantic villa Gregoriana and Villa Adriana.

For a romantic night in Tivoli, book a room at the B&B Al Palazzetto, a beautifully renovated 15th-century building, in the historic centre and easy walking distance form Villa D’Este.

Italy most romantic place #3: Pienza, and the views from the via dell’Amore

Pienza, a Unesco world heritage site, overlooks the Val D’Orcia and is the first example of Renaissance “ideal city”, i.e. a town bult according to architectural criteria of antique classics that would impact directly on the human soul, stimulating spiritual well being.

It’s old walls and buildings are full of atmosphere and are a fantastic romantic destination.

The wonderful walk along the ancient walks has been named “Via dell’Amore” (no need to translate…), and offers fantastic views over the Val d’Orcia.

For your Romantic stay, the relais  Il Chiostro di Pienza is arguably the most atmospheric choice.  It is an ancient Franciscan convent, just in the center of Pienza. It has a  wonderful panoramic terrace with view on the romantic Senese’s hills. You can actually sit on the terrace while sipping a café or a drink  (cheaper than spending the night there, indeed!).

Most romantic places in Italy_Pienza 5

Pienza could be an excellent hub to visit the worldwide renewed Val D’Orcia.

Italy most romantic place #4: the island of Ponza, a hidden jewel in the Mediterranean sea

For sure you know Capri, you may have heard of the islands of Ischia and Elba, but hardly anyone other than Italians goes to Ponza: lukily enough, this tiny group of islands has managed to stay away from mainstream touristic itineraries.

So here it is, your private paradise ready for you to discover, explore and enjoy!

Stuck in time atmosphere, laid back life style, gorgeous natural landscapes, gelati-colored houses, fisherman in bright boats, turquoise water and white limestone cliffs, secret grottos for snorkelling, fantastic uninhabited beaches, incredible sunsets over Palmarola island: everything contributes to make Ponza one of the most amazingly romantic places I stumbled upon in Italy (and elsewhere)!

For your stay, consider the posh Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna, and its fantastic terrace overlooking Chiaia di Luna cliffs. Even if you don’t sleep there, it’s a perfect place for an Aperitivo or a drink after dinner (god music provided!). Unmissable at nigh, when the full moon lights up the cliffs.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ponza 3_01

Italy most romantic place #5: Ravello, window in the sky of the Amalfi cost

Ravello is a tranquil and tiny medieval town which sits high up on the Amalfi mountains, offering stunning views of the Mediterranean sea.

Richard Wagner was inspired by Ravello….and described it as the closest place from earth to heaven!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 4_01
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ravello is cosy, sunny, and loaded with notable buildings (such as its 1086 cathedral). Despite its choice position on the Amalfi coast, Ravello manages to retain the aura of an old-fashioned village, and the typical southern Italy laid back atmosphere.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 5_01

In Ravello, the most romantic place of all is the fantastic Villa Cimbrone, a luxury hotel with a beautiful park that can be visited. But the true highlight  are the terraces, and their unbelievable views over the Mediterranean see. Villa Cimbrone is actually used to celebrate wedding parties, and I had the chance to be invited to one of them, some years ago. Indeed, it was a Wow! experience!

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 1_01Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 7_01

The iconic hotel Villa Cimbrone  is by any mean your top destination in Ravello… if you can afford the rates (you can and should visit its gardens, anyways)! A more reasonable suggestion for your stay ? The  Hotel Villa Fraulo ,  to enjoy breathtaking views over the cost from its terrace and a great design and service.

Most romantic places in Italy_Ravello 8_01

 Italy most romantic place #6: Ninfa romantic gardens

The enchanting Ninfa English garden in the Roman countryside was once a small agricultural town founded under the Roman Empire, passed through the ages from Pope Pasquale II in the 12th century to the Colonna family in 1293 until the 14th century, when a devastating war with the neighboring cities brought about the fall of Ninfa and its definitive abandonment.

What you see today was started in 1921 by Gelasio Caetani and his mother Ada Wilbraham, who would bring diverse species back to this garden from her various travels and transform it into one the the most amazing, yet unknown, marvels of central Italy.

Among the various treasures to be found in the gardens are the ruins of a 10th-century church (Santa Maria Maggiore) complete with 12th-century fresco, a picturesque river complete with crystal-clear water and ancient bridges, and a plethora of plants from around the globe, such as red Japanese maples, yucca, yellow begonias, orchids, cherry trees, lavender pathways, Himalayan and Mexican pines and miniature pomegranates.

But what makes Ninfa truly unique and atmospheric is having real roman and medieval ruins dotting a lavish English garden, in an incredibly beautiful and peaceful setting. Not easy to find such a romantic place elsewhere!

Whether you are a botanist, bio-diversity expert or Roman/medieval history buff, these gardens will surely excite the inner dreamer (and lover) in you.

 Italy most romantic place #7: Moena enchanted mountains

Moena lies in the middle of the Dolomites, which are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world.

Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaux, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. The bare pale-colored rock surfaces beautifully contrast with the forests and meadows below.

The beauty of the scenery and the majesty of Moena’s panoramas will surely capture Travelers in love with nature.  Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 1,500 meters and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world.

Just lie in a meadow (or stand in the snow with a cup of Vin Brulé in your hand) and wait for sunset: the pale grey rocks suddenly turn into unbelievable pink and orange nuances while the sun sets down beyond the peaks. In minutes, the stars will appear in the dark sky, highlighting peaks shape. Believe me, few places look as romantic as the Dolomites at Sunset!

Apart from the gorgeous surrounding, the beautiful village of Moena definitely deserves a visit. It’s a delightful hamlet, known as “la fata delle Dolomiti” (the Dolomite’s fairy).

In the lovely traditional mountain huts, with a hot Stube (local brick stove) to warm the room, you will enjoy delicious local Ladin dishes.

Your romantic choice for Moena  is the lovely Hotel Garden. Everything is great: the views, the traditional tyrolean style rooms, the food and the SPA.

Italy most romantic place #8: Sardinia at its best: Capo Testa hidden coves

Capo Testa is a windy, wild area, located in the north of Sardinia, in the Gallura region. It offers unique, lunar landscapes, and incredible beaches.

Most romantic places in Italy_Capo Testa 3_01

Lapped by translucent blue waters, backed by macchia (scrub land perfumed by wild herbs such as thyme, rosemary and oregano) and framed by Mistral-warped granite outcrops, northern Sardinia beaches are among the finest in the Mediterranean.

 

Here you are far from the posh beach resorts of nearby Costa Smeralda, and you can savor the wild Sardinia nature at its best.

In particular the rock bluffs, carved by wind and water into natural pillars reminiscent of Roman columns, are an impressive and unbelievable sight

A really inspiring accommodation close to capo Testa is the Saltara country house (agriturismo), which provides lovely bungalows around a nice pool.

Enjoy your romantic holiday in one of these Italy most romantic places!


Like Delightfully Italy? So why don’t you support it!

All you need to do is to use Booking.com by clicking on the banner below to book you next trip to Italy or anywhere else. Plus you’ll get the best deal on accommodation available anywhere!



Booking.com


Delightfullyitaly.com is the insider’s Italy travel guide for independent travelers. Here you will find city guides, travel itineraries, Italian experiences and much more.

If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures.

And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?

 

Top skiing in the Dolomites: the Sella Ronda tour

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda_1

A breathtaking, unique skiing itinerary, in Unesco classified Dolomites

 

What to say about Dolomites? They simply are enchanted mountains, extraordinarily beautiful! Grandiose peaks soar skywards, sometimes almost vertically, and their reddish-purple rock produces variety of shades of pink and flaming red, especially at first light and dusk.

Those of you who follow this blog (thanks!) already know that I’m a Ski Fanatic. But I’m also crazy about nature and beautiful landscapes. So in this post I’m going to merge these two passions and to talk about the Dolomites, arguably the most beautiful mountains of Europe, and the most amazing ski itinerary you can stumble upon: the Sella Ronda.

From a skiing point of view, well, Dolomites are simply the world’s biggest sky network, with over 1200 Km of slopes (the “Dolomiti Superski” area). Among this network, Sella Ronda is the most recognized and worldwide famous ski route.

Indeed, this ski itinerary is unique. The Sellaronda allows you to ski around the imposing Sella Group, in a loop covering four passes (Gardena, Sella, Pordoi, Campolongo): this means over 40 Km round trip, 26 km of slopes, 4 valleys and three provinces with one single skipass!

You can actually choose to make the itinerary either clockwise or counter clockwise: the SellaRonda is accessible in both directions!

sellaronda

In this post I’ll share with you a quick “reportage” of the Green Route (Sella Ronda counter clockwise).

Let’s start from Selva di Val Gardena, where you will take the Ciampinoi Cable Car up to the Top of Plan de la Gralba. In front of you the Sasso Lungo, one of Dolomites land marks, so close to give the illusion you could touch it with your hand.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__00
The Sasso Lungo (“long boulder”)
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__2
The most amazing ski area at your feet
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__3
Going to the Sella Ronda “Green” (anti clockwise)

From Plan de la Gralba you will then pass through the well-known “boulder city” to get to Sella Pass, followed by a short decent to Col Rodella which offers a spectacular view of Val di Fassa.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__5
The group of the Sella, from the “boulder city”
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__7
The “Col Rodella”
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__8
Down the “Lupo Bianco” slope

From Lupo Bianco the gondola goes directly to the ski center of Canazei (here you leave Val Gardena and you enter the second Valley of the tour). A chair lift will bring you to the Pass Pordoi, from which you leave Val di Fassa and enter the Arabba/Marmolada domain. The Sass Pordoi peak is visible to the north.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__12
The Sassolungo (left) and the Sella Group from Pass Pordoi
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__14
The cable car going up to the 3.000 m high Sass Pordoi station

A long and easy slope will bring you to Arabba. You reached 1/3 of the itinerary, and you can celebrate by tasting a delicious and invigorating Bombardino (typicall Dolomites drink: hot egg yolk liquor topped with fresh cream – so yummy!!)

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__13
Skiing downhill to Arabba
www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__15
Bombardino!

If you have enough time, try Arabba slopes, among the most challeging slopes of the area (look for Porta Vescovo).

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__16
Porta Vescovo Chairs

In order to continue the Sella Ronda loop take the lifts that go to Corvara and Colfosco located on the other side of the road. Look behind you to catch a stunning view of Arabba, Porta Vescovo and Marmolada.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__17

From here the tour continue to beautiful Corvara, overawed by the Sassongher peak.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__18
The Sassongher from Corvara

From Corvara a couple of lifts will take you to Colfosco (very beautifull slopes to explore) and to the Gardena Pass (the last pass of the tour). Here you will find the most enchanting landscapes of the area.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__20
The Sella group, viewed from Colfosco slopes

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__22

Once arrived at Passo Gardena, you will find the Sasso Lungo just in front of you. You are getting to the end of the tour: from there, a long slope will bring you back to Selva di Val Gardena, after a long, rewarding and unforgettable skiing day.

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda__23
The Sasso Lungo from passo Gardena

Useful information about the Sella Ronda loop:

This itinerary can easily be accomplished in one day, even by kids (my son was six the first time he made it). Nevertheless, it is highly advisable to start out no later than 10:00 a.m. and to reach the last pass no later than 3:30 p.m. otherwise you will risk not being able to use the lifts to reach your final destination. Also consider that there may be queues during weekends, so keep some buffer.

Take your time to enjoy the slopes, and to discover side areas (Colfosco, Arabba, Piz la Villa, …): don’t get trapped in a competition spirit. Rushing to close the loop in the minimum possible time is not necessarily the wisest approach.

Some lifts may close without prior notice due to bad weather, strong winds and snow: pay attention to information and warnings

www.delightfullyitaly.com_Sellaronda_23
Me, and the Sasso Lungo

Enjoy your skiing!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Delightfullyitaly.com: Italy top destinations and travel itineraries, off the beaten path

Delightfullyitaly.com is the blog for all the ones in love with Italian culture, Italian sights, Italian monuments .. and with Italian food! If you wish to visit Italy for the first time, or if you already discovered Venice, Rome, Florence, the Amalfi coast, but still want more, delightfullyitaly.com is here to disclose to you Italian Must See as well as Italian hidden treasures. And if you like what you read, why not follow delightfullyitaly.com and get free updates?