Dispatches from the Dolomites: Alta Pusteria

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantravelerEvery year in January, when winter snows blanket the majestic Dolomites — like powdered sugar atop slices of panettone randomly arranged on a large, holiday platter — I head for the easternmost side of Val Pusteria, the Alta Pusteria, in the South Tyrol, where northern Italy clings beer steins with Austria, and meet up with a fun-loving group of Yanks, Canucks and Italians for SkiTrek, our annual settimana bianca (white week).

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantraveler
And, just like clockwork, as I’m bidding same-time-next-year farewells to my white-week brethren, Christian Pircher, owner of the Hotel Adler, our four-star base camp in Villabassa/Niederdorf, asks me if I’ll ever come for a visit during summertime.

He lures me in with his narrative: “You must come when our hillsides and meadows are covered in lush green grasses, fruit trees are ripe and wildflowers are in bloom.”

Christian adds, “And our lakes, our beautiful lakes, in all shapes and sizes,” he pauses for effect as he drives home his sales pitch, “transform into bright, turquoise-blue mirrors reflecting images of the jagged peaks towering high above.”

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantraveler
Persuasive as the Godfather, but favoring strudel over cannoli, Christian makes me an offer that I finally cannot refuse: a complimentary stay at Hotel Adler in return for my documenting his beloved Alta Pusteria/Hochpustertal, where German is predominately spoken and Italian understood.

So, here I am back in Villabassa/Neiderdorf, along with fellow travel blogger Orna O’Reilly, to experience the Val Pusteria after the thaw.

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantravelerPromised “run of the house” privileges during our six-night stay at the Adler — including mouthwatering dishes prepared by Executive Chef Helene Markart and her stellar kitchen staff and paired with delightful grape from wineries across South Tyrol — we’re pointed in the right direction by Rosemarie, the hotel’s “Girl Friday,” who organizes our activities, coordinates our appointments and reprograms our GPS daily. Danke!

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantraveler

Dashing around the Dolomites | ©thepalladiantravelerDuring our sojourn in Three Peaks Country, from Braies/Prags in the west to Lienz, Austria in the east, we’ll log quite a few kilometers as we crisscross the valley in search of spectacular views, outdoor challenges and interesting people willing to tell us their stories about the land they love and the bounty it reaps.

Keep it here for a series of dispatches about our yodeling good time in Alta Pusteria.

Bis bald! A presto! See you later!

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. Looks like a interesting summer tour.You two must be good yodelers to be invited back during the slow season. The sounds of summer Austrian style.

  2. Alta Pusteria is probably the one place in the world I am most attached to: with my parents, we spent summers there for 20 years in a row (no joke!). Our base was always Val Fiscalina, not too far from Villabassa – an incredible place. I hope to go there again one day, with my kids: in the meanwhile, I really look forward to your posts and photos!

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