"La Dolce Vita" - Alto Adige / South Tyrol - Enjoy The Ultimate!
The name La Dolce Vita is probably known with many people due to the Italian Movie from Frederico Fellini in 1960. In the Netherlands and Belgium issued as Sweet Life as the literal translation indeed stands for.
And probably lots of restaurant/ice parlors/bars carry that name but only in South Tyrol, La Dolce Vita literally stands for The Sweet Life but is actually better translated as The Good Life.
Nowhere else than in South Tyrol you can enjoy as much as here, the ultimate feeling is really here.
Many luxury hotels and top restaurants to choose from and South Tyrol has also 23 Michelin Stars.
But obviously I'm not going to talk about the star restaurants because I did that once already (click here if you're interested).
The South Tyrolean cuisine, hearty mountain food in combination with Italian finesse, is highly appreciated as the many Michelin stars confirm. Yes, the prices are higher than eg Austria, but the quality is much better than eg the often mushy fries, bratwurst or poor flavored spaghetti dishes.
I have chosen to highlight the good mountain/alm huts in Val Gardena/Grödental I visited this summer.
Baita Daniel or Daniel Hut, located at 2.240m in the middle of the Seceda Alm is accessible from Ortisei/St. Ulrich (Seceda lift) and S. Cristina/St. Christina (Col Raiser lift). There is no direct lift to the hut so a nice hike is the basis for an excellent lunch. In 1971, the foundation for the Daniel hut was laid by Daniel Demez and in 1995 inherited by his son Samuel and his wife Brigitte. Over the years, the hut was expanded to its current size – in the cabin you can still find very old parts from old barns and cabins, this in order to preserve the authentic style. Of course we are not going to talk about the construction of the hut but the fabulous food and incredibly friendly family who runs the hut. The two sons help out as much as they can and with success as they inherited the kindness of their parents
On the menu you will find delicacies such as dumplings, lasagna, polenta, gnocchi but also several daily specials. And since the owner is a wine freak, there is a good wine-list.
And in addition to this all, you get a fantastic view of Sassolungo and Sella Joch for free. The atmosphere is serene, the food fantastic, the wine sublime and the icing on the cake the view and there is also the sherry on the icing in the form of a good grappa.
Sofie Baita or Sofie Hut is owned by the family Prinoth and also located on the Seceda Alm on 2.410m. It is such a hut where you should have eaten when you are in the area. Unfortunately, we could not go there this time because there was a major renovation in progress. The already good looking cabin has undergone quite a metamorphosis. The small indoor section has been expanded in order to accommodate enough people when bad weather arrives.
The cuisine is excellent (based on our experience in December 2015). The dishes are pure and have a typical South Tyrolean identity with delicatessen like schultzkrapfen, risotto, gnocchi and dumplings and these fine dishes arrive automatically with an appetizer (at least last time we visited). Accompaniment to these meals you do find an extensive wine list.
Baita Sanon or Sanon Hut, situated in the middle of Europe's largest Alpine meadows Alpi di Siusi/Seiser Alm, can be reached from Ortiser/St. Ulrich, S.Cristina/St.Christina and Siusi/Seis. Lifts and a brisk hike bring you from these places to a small cozy alpine hut. The old cabin is owned by the Kostner family. Between 1987-2002 the hut served as base for the helicopter rescue service, Father Raphael was at that time leader of the rescue team. His wife Maddelena and son Luca are daily present and son Daniel has for filled his dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.
No miraculous styled plates but delicious meals such as lasagna, spaghetti and polenta but also a nice alm jause can be eaten here. These meals are served with a smile and a kind word. A good wine or other goodies is available to accompany the dishes
The big sunny terrace attracts hikers and cyclists in the summer. In winter the hiker, skier and cross-country skiers, but if that does not fit your needs, you can also get here by a horse drown sleigh. In winter if bad weather occurs, it can be a challenge to get a table as the place is not only very popular among foreign visitors but also the "Einheimischen" are happy here.
Rifugio Emilio Comici or Emilio Comici Hut located at the foot of Sassolungo / Langkofel. This white hut with its blue shutters would fit the Greek island Santorini perfectly and therefore provides a kind of "Beach Feeling" in the mountains. The hut named after a mountaineer, much loved by the ladies, and was built in his memory in 1955 and has retained its old charm. Reminders can be found throughout the cabin. The hut is accessible from many points but like the aforementioned hut there is no direct lift and some effort is required to get here.
From Wolkenstein you can take a lift and continue with a strenuous hike.
From Sellajoch to reach the hut in 45 minutes’ leisurely hike. The better hiker can choose to walk (requires good footwear, condition and the necessary experience in the mountains) from Forcella del Sassolungo / Langkofelscharte.
After having taken a small gondola to the Rifugio Toni Demetz you can make a strenuous hike of 3.5h that brings you to Comici.
In summer, the kitchen of Comici is dominated by the fresh herbs and winter fish/shellfish are its main ingredients. In the summer it can be busy but reservations are not required but in the winter it is advisable to make reservations as it is a popular stop.
You will find a small menu with absolutely amazing dishes including various types of pasta, risotto and grilled meat. If you have become weary of the walk and the "Beach Feeling" takes the upper hand, you can choose a good bottle of wine from the extensive wine list.
All four huts have my recommendation and I have therefore set them up randomly so not preferred. All four have their own specialty and charm.
So I can only give the advice to try them and I hope you'll be as charmed by the atmosphere and food.
Hiking tip 1:
If Ortisei is your base, you can take the Seceda lift to the top and from here ➡ Sofie Hütte ➡ Daniel Hütte ➡ Almhotel Col Raiser, after which you can descend with the Col Raiser lift to S. Cristina.
Of course you can also do this reversed if S. Cristina is your base.
You can then choose to go down the Panorama road (4.5km) from S. Cristina to Ortisei or grab a taxi at the Col Raiser lift, which takes you for € 20 to Ortisei.
Please note that if you choose to walk, a short hike from the Col Raiser lift to the center of S. Cristina is necessary and I estimate it between 1-2km.
Almhotel Col Raiser, owned by the family Schenk lies at 2.106m high above S. Cristina/St. Christina. It is surrounded by mountains and offers excellent views. The restaurant/hotel is easily accessible via the Col Raiser lift. It has a lovely sun terrace so also for non hikers it’s a good place to be. It can be start or end point of many lovely hikes.
Hiking tip 2:
Once on Seceda you can take a short climb to the summit cross (360 ° view) or walk across the Seceda Alm to the Forcella Pana/Panascharte, both stops have a beautiful view. But even with low clouds or fog Panascharte is a place which is worth a visit.
Hiking tip 3:
From Ortisei take the gondola to the top and follow the signs to Baita Sanon. At Sanon (lunch suggestion?) go in the direction of Ritsch Schwaige, after a short easy climb you reach a dirt road bend left here. At one point you can chose left and right (down to Saltria), go left as this path will bring you back to the gondola to Ortisei.
Hiking tip 4:
By car or bus to Passo di Sella and park where the little gondola goes to Forcella del Sassolungo (parking fee € 5). A nature walk starts here. The way up via the road is not particularly spectacular but is a good start for hiking to the Comici hut, you have to talk the same way back but then you can turn left on the nature trail. This takes you through a beautiful rugged terrain and back to the parking lot.
The four walks are relaxed and not overly heavy, just the walk to the Panascharte can be somewhat tricky for those with vertigo.
I wish you a pleasant stay in Val Gardena/Grödental.