Italy | Via Ladinia: Heart of the Italian Dolomites


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  • "We were extremely impressed with the Ryder-Walker Adventure which exceeded our high expectations. Everything went well and we were singing your praises throughout the trip. Your planning of our itinerary was excellent, and we greatly appreciated all you did for us. Ryder Walker's excellent research in introducing us to the Dolomites and planning absolutely stunning hikes off the beaten path. Each hike every day was unique and different, which we enjoyed. "- Michelle M.
  • "I have recommended Ryder-Walker to everyone I tell about our trip."- Stephanie T.
  • "Really superb. We are devoted."- Liz B.

Trip Highlights:

  • Enjoy fantastic architecture and cuisine set against the backdrop of some of the most dramatic mountains on earth.
  • Sneak your way through heavenly lush meadows and authentic Italian hamlets.
  • Bed down in magical villages like San Candido, St. Vigilio, and Alleghe.

The Pusteria Valley on the Italian/Austrian border is where the high Alps morph into the Dolomites. The northern flank of the valley is pastoral, with undefined walls of limestone and gentler summits. The southern flank is where the Dolomites find their personality as jagged summits skyrocket above. Ryder-Walker’s Via Ladinia begins in the calming town of San Candido.

The magnificence of this hiking itinerary lies in its ability to navigate these seemingly impenetrable peaks. The route sneaks its way through heavenly lush meadows, and links fascinating and remote hamlets, hotels and one superbly appointed rifugio. Adventuresome outings exist in the higher hills and more rugged ridges of this forgotten section of the Dolomites, often piercing the astonishing relics of World War I’s Fronte Italiano.

The route follows the migration of the Ladin culture over the centuries. Ladin culture emerged in the more northern area of Tyrol, now southern Germany, and the Südtirol (Austria). As a nomadic farming community, the Ladins radiated in many directions, but the southern route you explore was most favorable for them due to the “hospitality” of the topography and terrain.

The culture is colorful and effervescent, with fantastic architecture and cuisine, and it’s all set against the backdrop of many of the most dramatic mountains on earth. Evenings are most enticing, as the Ladinia meld the orderliness of the Tyrol with the dolce vita Italy is so revered for.

This diverse point-to-point hiking adventure offers easy to challenging hikes depending on what level of difficulty you desire.

This trek travels from north to south, to the most comfortable and atmospheric inns available in each location. From a classic South-Tyrolian hotel in San Candido, embraced by the woods of San Candido and shadowed by the imposing and jagged Baranci peaks; to the village of Pieve di Livinallongo and a hotel with comfortable rooms, creative cuisine, and a fun atmosphere; each inn reflects the charm and character of its location. 

You also spend one night in the quiet hamlet of St. Vigilio before heading to the spectacular rifugio for a night in the mountains. You will be pleasantly surprised with this cozy rifugio that offers private rooms and delicious home cooked meals. The deck of the rifugio offers a marvelous opportunity to enjoy the sunset alpenglow as it dances across the magnificent peaks.

Dinner is usually a four course meal, and breakfast is a simple buffet taken at your leisure. Typically, lunch is a picnic enjoyed at a high pass or in a pasture with spectacular views. Other days, mountain restaurants or huts along the way make for perfect lunch stops.

Trip Itinerary

Choose from our standard itinerary or customize the trek by adding or subtracting days.

Transfer to San Candido in the Val Pusteria.

Begin the day with a quick bus transfer from your hotel to the Fischleintal Valley. The hike brings you immediately into the the almost indescribable beauty of the Sesto Dolomites. After following the Via Alpina trail to the Talschlusshütte (perfect cappuccino stop), the path climbs into a hanging valley below the Zwölferkofel peak. The high point of the day is the well placed Rifugio Comici, an idyllic spot for an alpine hut lunch. The return by the same route truly emphasizes the spectacular nature of this special place.

Distance: 9 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 2600 ft.

After a quick van transfer to the Lago di Braies (to many the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites), hike over the Kreuzjoch, with lunch in the agriturismo Ucia de Fejedora, which is outstanding. Hike to St. Vigilio, or “Al Plan” in the Ladino language. Check into your wonderful hotel in this quaint hamlet.

Distance: 11 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 3000/up to 3000 ft.

Today’s hike from San Vigilio to Alp Fanes is primarily a significant, but dramatic ascent to Passo de San Antone. Much of the hike is in the Fanes wilderness preserve, along quiet trails through unspoiled forest, hiking over the Ju de St. Antoine. Overnight in the Rifugio Fanes (some private rooms, great kitchen, even has WiFi).

Distance: 12 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 4150/1390 ft.

Today you access the isolated Ciasa Salares in the Valparola above the romantic hamlet of San Cassiano. The Ciasa Salares is a superior four-star hotel with a fantastic kitchen and spa facilities, set above endless meadows.

Distance: 11 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1800/3550 ft.

Today, ascend from Armentarola up to the Piccolo Lagazuoi before hopping on a cable car and bus to return to San Cassiano.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 3000/400 ft.

Today’s hike climbs up over the historic Col di Lana (or “blood mountain”) and down into the Livinallongo Valley, the heart of Ladin culture. This exceptional day takes in the summit of a mountain fought over during World War I.

Distance: 10 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1400/2800 ft.

Ryder-Walker will provide a departure taxi from Livinallongo to Belluno or Brunico bus/train station.

Please note that it would be difficult to make same day flight connections from Munich, Venice, or Milan.

Via Ladinia: Heart of the Italian Dolomites | Italy

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