WINE + walking TOUR: THE ITALIAN ALPS & DOLOMITES
Trekking (and wine!) in two alpine regions of Italy
The Sound of Music meets Sideways! A wine tour spotlighting the Austrian-flavored culture of Südtirol / Alto Adige
Hikes of 3 to 5 hours in two spectacular mountain zones: Italian Alps & Dolomites
Private, sit-down tastings at Ferrari, Tieffenbruner, Cantina Terlano & more
Visit Bolzano and the Ice Age man Özti
DAY 1 – LOOP HIKE AROUND LAKE CALDARO
Get ready for some spectacular hiking in the Alps and Dolomites! We begin with a pick-up in Trento, then head directly to our first wine tasting (yes, before lunch!) This will feature the sparkling wine called Trento DOC, which uses the champagne method. Depending on availability, our winery will either be Ferrari, the largest and most famous of Trento’s producers, whose wines have filled the glasses of countless movie stars and showered Formula One race-car drivers, or else Maso Martis, a boutique winery that supplies grapes to Ferrari and also sells sparklers under its own label.
Then we drive north to scenic Lake Caldaro and check into our hotel. A light welcome lunch at a winery will introduce the region’s mix of Italian and Austrian fare, such as speck (smoked ham), crisp pickles, and dense brown bread.
After lunch, we do an easy two-hour hike on the weinstrasse (wine roads) that pass through vineyards and forests on the ridge, then wind back to town through a crazy quilt of vineyards and apple orchards on the valley floor. Finally, we’ll get better acquainted with Tyrolean cuisine at dinner overlooking the lake.
L, D • Goldener Stern in Caldaro
DAY 2 – HIKE ON VIGILJOCH, IMBIBE AT HOFSTATTER
Today’s hike starts with a cable-car ride that takes us up 6,000’ to our trailhead on Mt. Vigilio or Vigiljoch. From here, our loop hike goes through classic alpine landscapes—thick pine forests, Sound of Music meadows, grazing cows, rustic mountain refuges, and scenic vistas.
We’ll lunch at a mountain rifugio on canederli, hearty goulash soup, blueberry crepes, and fresh apple strudel, then return through more pine forests and rocky clearings to the funicular.
Then we drive to Tramin (the possible birthplace of gewürztraminer) to visit Hofstätter, one of the region’s top wineries in family hands. We’ll take a peek at their experimental vineyard where 15 gewürztraminer clones are growing, then taste their aromatic whites and stellar pinot noir. Dinner will be near Caldaro, where we’ll see how indigenous grapes like schiava and lagrein pair with the local cuisine.
B, D • Goldener Stern in Caldaro
DAY 3 – WALK TO TRAMIN, THE BIRTHPLACE OF GEWÜRTZTRAMINER
Today we’re back on the ridge overlooking the Adige valley floor. This is a point-to-point hike from Caldaro to Cortaccia, passing along wooded paths, paved wine roads, and vineyards (including some of Hofstätter’s). It’s a day of easy hiking amidst Tyrolean scenery and picturesque villages.
Post-hike, we have a tour and tasting at Tiefenbrunner, where we’ll admire the fabulous 17th century Turnhof estate, the grandfather’s eccentric fountain sculptures and façade bas-reliefs, and the winery’s top-rated pinot grigio, muller thurgau, gewürztraminer, and lagrein. Dinner is in Caldaro.
B, D • Goldener Stern in Caldaro
DAY 4 – A DAY IN BOLZANO with OTZI THE ICEMAN
During this transition day, we stop in Bolzano, dubbed “the Gateway to the Dolomites.” There will be free time to visit the museum of Ötzi the Iceman, Europe’s oldest mummy, who lived about 3,000 BC and was discovered in a melting glacier in the Alps. Bolzano also offers outdoor markets, historic churches, a lively café culture, and great outdoor-adventure clothing stores.
Our afternoon tasting is at Cantina Terlano. Founded in 1893, this is one of Alto Adige's oldest cooperatives and undoubtedly one of the best, with stellar gewürtzraminer, pinot bianco, lagrein, merlot, and pinot nero.
Then we leave the Alps and transfer to the western Dolomites, a two-hour drive over several mountain passes. Home base will be Canazei, one of the main winter centers in the Val di Fassa. This lateral valley offers access to some of the Dolomites’ most popular hiking routes: the Sella, Marmolada, and Sasso Lungo mountain groups. It’s also home to Ladini culture, whose language is as close as one gets to living Latin.
Dinner might feature a region favorite—deer pasta with teroldego wine—or perhaps a fig-and-pear ravioli topped with poppy seed, accompanied by a spicy gewürtztraminer.
B, D • Hotel alla Rosa
DAY 5 – DOLOMITES HIKE: THE SASSOPIATTO LOOP
Today we walk the Emperor’s Way, in the Dolomites’ Sassolungo & Sassopiatto mountain groups, a popular destination for hikers that’s crisscrossed by trails and climbing routes. We start from Passo Sella at the bottom of the group and hike to the Sassopiatto Refuge. This 3- to 4-hour walk is in an alpine valley full of larch pines and open meadows, and offers impressive views of Mt. Sassolungo, the highest peak at 10,436’. It’s called Friedrich August Way, because the Austrian emperor used to vacation here and was very fond of this valley.
Afterwards, if time allows, we’ll visit the Ladino museum, where videos bring to life their masked dances, old-style farming, cooking, and crafts. Dinner is on your own in Canazei.
D • Hotel alla Rosa
DAY 6 – THE DOLOMITES’ ROAD OF BREAD: PORDOI PASS
The Viel dal Pan (Road of Bread) is one of the most panoramic and popular trails along a mountain range in the center of the Dolomites. Connecting the Pordoi and Fedaia passes with the plain, this was an important route for commerce and communications in prehistoric and medieval times.
We’ll shuttle by van to our trailhead at the Pordoi Pass, then do a steady but gradual climb up a broad path until we reach the ridge. From here we wind our way between mountain refuges and votive chapels, walking along an easy path that offers spectacular vistas of verdant meadows and craggy mountains, including the star: Marmolada, the Dolomites’ tallest peak, with Lake Fedaia at its foot. One can see why Marmolada is where Pope John Paul II loved to ski.
After refueling on spicy goulash (or pizza), we’ll visit a war memorial dedicated to the German soldiers of both World Wars and hear some history from our guides. Then we return to Canazei for our farewell dinner.
B, D • Hotel alla Rosa
DAY 7 – ARRIVEDERCI!
A shuttle to the Trento train station (about 2 hours) and assistance with your travel plans.
Want an alpine wine tour without the hiking? Join our wine tour in Alto Adige and Valpolicella, called Amarone & Alto Adige.
Hiking Level of Difficulty
Though alpine hiking sounds difficult, have no fear. The lower Alps in the wine country of Aldo Adige is not so fierce, while in the Dolomites we pick very popular, do-able trails. No technical hiking or climbing skills needed—though being in shape always helps! Our hikes alternate between trails in the Adige river valley and mountain hikes. When in the valley, we walk on wooded trails, quiet gravel lanes, and marked paths that cut through the vineyards and apple groves. These are relatively easy walks. The other hikes are at higher altitudes. Fortunately, the heavy lifting is done by cable car, which takes us up to our trailheads in the Alps. Here we’re hiking on trails through pine forests and open meadows. There is some climbing, but it’s in small pieces and nothing too extreme. In the Dolomites, we go to our trailheads by van. Here again we’re on broad trails; the climbs are gradual and quite do-able.
You'll need hiking boots, or at least good walking shoes with deep treads. If you have walking sticks, now’s the ideal time to bring them!
Venice, Milan, or Innsbruck (Austria)
Plan to land in Italy or Austria a day before the tour begins; that’s necessary to be at our starting point on time. Most people spend the preceding night in either Verona (1 hour by train from Venice) or Trento (2 hours from Venice). If you land in Innsbruck, it is advisable to arrive in Trento the day before our tour begins. Contact us for details. For hotel suggestions, email us or consult a good hotel search engine, such as TripAdvisor.com or Hotels.com.
Our meeting point is the Trento train station, a charming historic city midway between Verona and Bolzano. If you’re coming from Verona that morning, you‘ll take the 9 a.m. train, arriving in Trento at 10 a.m. (Precise train details will be in your information packet.)
On the final day, we leave by 9:30 and shuttle to the train station of Trento, arriving by 11:30 a.m. During the tour, we can help you interpret the train schedule and buy your return tickets, if assistance is desired.
Italian train schedule
Here's the English-language version of TrenItalia. Be aware that the schedule is posted only several months in advance, so if you're looking for long-range dates, try something sooner, just to get an idea of departure frequency and trip length.
Venice is an obvious choice for pre- or post-tour travel. But if you’ve already been there, done that, we recommend Verona. Founded by Romans on the banks of the Adige River, the city has layers upon layers of history. It boasts one of the largest Roman coliseums, dozens of churches laden with art, the home of Shakespeare’s Juliet Capulet, lively outdoor markets, and streets lined with elegant shops.
This is recommended to protect you from needless loss caused by last-minute cancellations, lost luggage, and more. Three sources are Travelex Insurance, (800) 228-9792; CSA Travel Protection, (800) 348-9505; and Travel Guard, (800) 826-1300.
When packing, check www.weather.com. Go to “Caldaro, Italy” and “Canazei, Italy” to get a general idea of temperatures and forecast. Because of the altitude, the Dolomites can be brisk, even in late June, with spring snow still on the ground and daytime temperatures in the 40s or 50s. The Adige River valley will be much warmer—in the 60s, 70s, or even hotter on the valley floor—with summer hiking clothes in order.
For cancellation policy & more, see our General Information page.
Book by February 1 for a $150 Early Bird Discount
Single supplement: $350
Meet & depart
Trento train station
- 6 nights accommodations (double room) in one 4-star and one 3-star hotel, with breakfast buffet
- 5 gourmet dinners (three courses with wine)
- 1 welcome lunch
- All wine tastings mentioned
What's not included
- Air travel
- 1 dinner on your own & most lunches
- After-dinner drinks, or special wines at tastings that are not part of what is provided to the group
- Items of a personal nature
- Anything not specified as included