Travel Diplomacy

What to do in Val Rendena, Italy

There’s a place in the mountainous region of Trentino-Alto Adige, in the north of Italy, that has been my holiday getaway since I can remember: its name is Pinzolo. It may not ring a bell, even for Italians like me – truth is, the close alpine location of Madonna di Campiglio is way better known to anyone interested in winter sports. Nonetheless, Pinzolo and the valley it lays in, Val Rendena, remain a wonderful place to rest after long months of working or studying.  If you’re more of an active, sports person, though, this place is still worth a go. After around 15 years of coming here every summer, here are my personal “to-dos” if you decide to spend some time in this lovely valley.

I'm just trying to prove my point here.

I’m just trying to prove my point here.

 1. Just take a look around

The Dolomites are one of the most amazing mountain ranges in the world, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Val Rendena is sorrounded by these incredible “pale mountains” and it is crossed by a small river, the Sarca. Walking and cycling have almost been elevated to an art form of their own, in this part of the world: from anywhere you look, you become a witness of a sometimes unexpected beauty. You could just jog around the cute village centers along the valley or cycle along the stream on the 25km bike lanes that connects one center to the other, crossing green fields and bridges. If you’re into Pokèmon Go (and you have no idea of how big of a fan I am), it’s definitely the best way to catch them all, as you can find several pokèstops and gyms on your path. If you’re an explorer – or you just enjoy walking amongst unspoiled nature – you’ll find several walking paths. Some are quite steep and last long hours, while others are shorter and simpler: it all depends on just how much you like sports, really. If you’re into long days of adventure, you can decide to sleep in one of the several “rifugi” that are scattered along the highest mountains. Some of the most interesting routes are the Giro dell’Imperatrice, Giro delle Cascate,  Giro dei 5 Laghi or Giro dei Rifugi.

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A rare picture of me trying to escape from my problems, or “that time I tried paragliding”

2. try an extreme sport

I must admit I’m not much of a sports person myself, but Pinzolo really takes the best out of me. Every time I tried an extreme sport – be it paragliding (which I checked off my to-do list), rafting or canyoning – it happened in this valley. There’s really the possibility to have a go at any mountain sport one might want to try in their lifetime here. And it feels really good.

You'll have to walk thorugh scary, ugly places like this one, but I swear it's worth it!

You’ll have to walk thorugh scary, ugly places like this one, but I swear it’s worth it!

3. become a gatherer

I know you’ve always wanted to understand how it felt for those poor old primitive men to have to gather their own food in order to live. Though I can assure there’s plenty of supermarkets and petite organic food shops in this valley, I suggest you try to gather some of your own food for a day. Put on your best walking boots and ask a local for the best place to look for mushroom – it’s pretty easy to find some delicious porcini in the sorrounding woods – or berries. They probably won’t tell you, though: they’ll want to keep their spots secret, since those mushroom, strawberries and blueberries are just that good.

The Sarca River.

The Sarca River.

4. cross a river

And with that I mean you should totally, literally cross a river, if you’ve never done so in your life. The Sarca is pretty slow and rocky in many points, so you’ll probably even see little children freshen up in its cool waters in the hot summer days. The water’s often at a low level, but the thrill of crossing a river without a bridge still remains quite of a thrill.

Chalet Fiat in Madonna di Campiglio. The food tastes like heaven, and since it's located at 2104m above sea level, it might just really come from heaven itself.

Chalet Fiat in Madonna di Campiglio. The food tastes like heaven, and since it’s located at 2104m above sea level, it might just really come from heaven itself.

5. come visit it in winter

Of course, most people enjoy mountains better in the winter time. Val Rendena is just perfect for anyone who loves alpine skiing or snowboarding: the snow is usually smooth for the whole skiing season, yet it’s never too cold. The view from the slopes is stunning, you’ll find several ski parks if you want to have a go at some stunts and the food in the different restaurants and chalets on the slopeside is top-quality. There’s even an ice stadium in Pinzolo, and it’s open all year round.

Chilling with a buddy of mine.

Chilling with a buddy of mine.

6. enjoy your stay!

Listen up: I’ve stayed in Val Rendena for so many weeks in my life. I can assure it’s the perfect place if you want a place to charge your batteries or to explore the beauty of nature. Just pick up a book, go for a walk in the sorrounding mountains, find a quiet spot and read. The only distraction you’ll find will probably be cows – they tend to come and sniff anything that appears in their territory. In the summer you’ll have the opportunity of meeting many lovely people who have come here for your same exact reasons, but it’s still not a boring, touristy place and it keeps an adorable authentic vibe. There’s spas nearby – a good one is in Caderzone, a better one in close Comano – and you can even enjoy live music in the forest thanks to the yearly summer tour Suoni delle Dolomiti. It might not be as thrilling as a big city or an exotic land…but some time in your life, it will be exactly what you need.

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Find more pictures of Val Rendena on my instagram profile: @abitofviola.

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