Every 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).
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.”
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.
Promised “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!
During 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