Italy | Via Ladinia: Heart of the Italian Dolomites

Explore the two most quiet and remote areas of the 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.
  • "We will enjoy a fun filled week exploring the lands of the Ladin people, the original settlers of the Dolomite mountains. There will be a variety of hikes for all abilities."- Ken Fuhrer

Trip Highlights:

  • Hike through a UNESCO heritage site and along the front lines of World War 1.
  • Hike to Lago di Braies, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Italian Dolomites.
  • Follow ancient farming roads through storybook meadows and villages.

The Pusteria Valley on the Italian/Austrian border is where the 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 you. 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 we 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 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. 

We also spend one night in the quiet hamlet of St. Vigilio before heading to the spectacular rifugio for a night in a mountain hut. You will be pleasantly surprised with this cozy rifugio that offers private rooms as well as 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. 

Trip Itinerary

Transfer independently to San Candido. This is an easy transfer on the train line through the Val Pustaria (from the main Munich/Milan line through Fortezza). Meet your guides and group for welcome drinks and dinner.

Begin the day with a quick bus transfer from our hotel to the Fischleintal Valley. The hike brings us 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: 8.5 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 Kruezjoch, with lunch in the agriturismo Ucia de Fejedora, which is outstanding. Hike to St. Vigilio, or Al Plan in the ladiano language. Check into our 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 we 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 we hike from Abtai back to Armentarola. Ride the ski lift from a village called Pedraces, and enjoy a fun filled hiking day through the famous pastures of the upper Badia Valley.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1000/1400 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 taxi to the train station in Belluno.

Note: It will 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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