Easyish Dolomites Culinary Hike Write a review
Last year, we developed and ran a Luxury Dolomites Culinary Hiking tour, which was a great success on all levels. Against all expectations, our guests did not shun the opportunity to stay in a 5-star hotel and dine at Michelin-starred restaurants. So, we are offering another departure in 2024. Besides the fabulous Alpine hikes (which we have made “easier than usual”, but not easy) amongst the splendid Dolomites Mountains, you stay four nights in the 5-star Grand Hotel Savoia in Cortina and three nights at the Hotel Tofana in San Cassiano, a very comfortable four-star without pretensions. You will dine at two fabulous 1-star-Michelin restaurants, one in Cortina, the other in Corvara, and have the option of partaking in a “show cooking” demonstration with up-and-coming Michelin-starred chef Simone Cantafio at La Stua de Michil. This tour is all about superlatives, thanks to the stupendous mountain scenery, the sumptuous Hotel Savoia, and the out-of-this-world cuisine. Finally, as an added attraction, perennial favorite Customwalks guide Dennis will lead this tour. Company owner Brett will join him if we get enough sign-ups.
Not included: 1 dinner in Cortina, lunches, spa/wellness treatments, drinks other than water at meals, and discretionary gratuities for the guides. The One Star "Show Cooking" experience with Chef Simone at the Stua di Michil has a supplement of €100 Euro per person.
Easyish Dolomites Culinary Hike itinerary Request full itinerary
Sept 3: Dennis (and hopefully Brett too) will meet you at 1 pm at the Venice Airport for a two-hour transfer to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Situated in the broad and sunny Ampezzo Valley and surrounded by some of the most majestic peaks of the Dolomite mountains, Cortina is renowned as one of the most beautiful alpine villages in the world. We check you into the historic 5-star luxury Grand Hotel Savoia in the heart of Cortina before departing for a short walk directly from the hotel to stretch our legs and take in the spectacular views of the glorious peaks circling Cortina. We treat you to an aperitivo and then dinner in the stylish hotel dining room. The walk: 4 km/2.5 mi. Duration: about 1h 30 mins. Surface. Paved roads and hard-packed dirt trails. Very Easy. Overnight Cortina. Hotel, aperitif, and dinner included. Transfer time from Venice airport is 2 hours.
Sept 4: A breathtaking gondola ride whisks you up to 2100m to Mount Faloria. Take in the stunning panorama before the hike, which descends into the valley through a beautiful larch forest. You eventually reach verdant fields where brown-eyed cows happily graze their pastures. We stop for lunch at Rifugio Mietres, a classic all-wood chalet with a stunning view over the valley. Afterward, you continue the hike descending by foot into Cortina, where you will have time to peruse the boutiques or enjoy a cool glass of something at a sunny cafe. Tonight we take you to dine at Al Camin, a cozy wood-paneled restaurant featuring regional cuisine with flair. The Hike:10.8 km/6.8 miles or 3.5h, mostly downhill with a total descent of 973 m/3,100 ft. Hard-packed dirt, rocky trails, and some asphalt in town. Overnight Cortina. Breakfast, dinner, and lifts are included.
Sept 5: (08:30) We transfer you to Col Gallina, near the historic Falzarego pass to start a gradual uphill hike towards Averau mountain. Keen hikers will want to climb up to Rifugio Nuvolau – “rifugio in the clouds” before continuing to the “Cinque Torri” (five towers), whose jagged spires are a mecca for intrepid rock climbers. The trail takes you through an open-air museum of WWI trenches, bunkers, and huts that made up the Italian positions that faced the Austrians who were perched above them at Lagazuoi. Our lunch destination is Rifugio Scoiatolli. After lunch, save your knees, relax, digest, and take the chairlift down into the valley. We transfer back to Cortina where you have time to enjoy the hotel spa. This evening is our first Michelin star experience at San Brite, an elegant restaurant of restrained sophistication. Chef-owner Riccardo Gaspari uses produce from his own farm/Malga which we hiked past on day 2. The emphasis here is on healthy, delicious, local cuisine. A truly impressive cantina of Italian and French wines ensures an exquisite dining experience. The Hike: 6.4 km/4.2mi. Duration: 3 hours. Elevation gain 410m/1312ft. Elevation loss 265m/850 ft. Hard-packed gravel and rock trails. Transfer time 30 minutes.Overnight Cortina. Breakfast, dinner, lifts, and transfers are included.
Sept 6: Instead of meadows and mountains today, we offer you canyons and waterfalls. We take you on a spectacular hike that zigzags upriver through wild rhododendrons to pause at thunderous waterfalls. Hike behind a veil of water as you pass behind one of the cascades for a unique visual of looking out through a waterfall. We enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to Cortina. Tonight is your free night, so you can pick a restaurant of your choice, ranging from our favorite pizzeria in Cortina to a Michelin-starred restaurant. The Hike: 11 km/6.8m. Duration: 3.5 to 4 hours/ Elevation gain/loss 400m/1312ft. Duration 4 hours. This is a partial loop hike. Hard-packed gravel roads and trails. Overnight Cortina. Breakfast and picnic lunch are included. Dinner is not included. Overnight Cortina. Hotel, breakfast, and transfers are included. Dinner not included.
Sept 7: This morning we leave Cortina and transfer you to the Passo Valparola, which sits above the “Alta Badia” region. We start our hike at 2,168 meters or almost 7,000 feet, and the vista is vast. You will traverse beneath the impressive rock walls of Settsass mountain and then climb past WW1 trenches to gain breathtaking views of the distant Marmolada glacier and beautiful Monte Civetta. The trail eventually brings us to the soft alpine meadows of the Pralongià Plateau, also known as the Amphitheatre of the Dolomites, thanks to the surrounding peaks. We stop for lunch at Rifugio Pralongia, recently renovated and renowned for its delicious food. After lunch, a leisurely stroll brings us to a chairlift, and we descend to San Cassiano, a small mountain village set amongst stunning alpine scenery. We stay at the 4-star Hotel Tofana, a self-proclaimed “Design Hotel.” This afternoon, you may do the unforgettable show cooking demonstration/cooking lesson with one-star Michelin Chef Simone of La Stua de Michil. This is ostensibly about cooking, but it is also a unique opportunity to spend time with the affable, generous, and brilliant chef Simone and to get an insight into what it takes to become a Michelin-starred chef.* Otherwise, you can explore the village with an excellent pastry shop and gelateria in the piazza. Tonight's dinner is in the local pizzeria. We recommend the speck and finferli mushroom pizza. Delicious! The Hike: 11.8 km/6 mi. Duration3.5 hours. Elevation gain 290m/560ft. Elevation loss 462m/1,478 ft. Hard-packed gravel roads and trails. Overnight: San Cassiano. Hotel, breakfast, dinner, lifts and transfers included. *The Show Cooking Demonstration is optional and has a supplement of €100 Euro per person.
Sept 8: You have a more relaxed start today. We have a five-minute transfer (to save you a 180m/600-foot climb) to the trailhead to hike through meadows and forests along “the path of the larches.” Our destination is Rifugio Santa Croce, one of the oldest mountain huts in the valley. It was established in 1718 to serve the pilgrims who reached the Santa Croce sanctuary adjacent to it. We stop for a hearty lunch before descending into Badia village vy chairlift, and from there, transfer back to the hotel. This evening the Nagler family gives us a warm and genuine welcome to their wonderful farm-to-fork restaurant. Three generations of the family work the farm and the restaurant. They provide us with a superb traditional Ladin meal in their 18th-century farmhouse. The Hike:7.8 km/4.9 mi. Duration 2.5 hours, Elevation gain 488 m/1560 ft. Elevation loss is negligible. Hard-packed dirt and rocky trails. Overnight: San Cassiano. Hotel, breakfast, dinner, lifts and transfers included.
Sept 9: Enjoy a cappuccino in the village before a mid-morning departure for our last hike. Today, we take you to explore the typical Ladin farmsteads that populate Alta Badia’s beautiful agricultural land. Our loop hike takes you to the Church of Santa Barbara, a picturesque gem nested in the valley, and Agriturismo Ciablun, where you will taste homemade specialties of Ladin cuisine. After lunch, we loop back to our pickup spot and transfer back to San Cassiano. Dinner this evening is yet another special culinary event as we dine at the 1-star Michelin restaurant La Stua de Michil in the neighboring village of Corvara. Chef Simone Cantafio previously was the head chef and manager at the Bras family’s two Michelin-starred Toya restaurant on the island of Hokkaido. He has had one Michelin star in Corvara for three years, and we predict another one will soon arrive. The Hike: 8.1 km/5 mi. Duration: 3 hours. Elevation gain/loss 432 m/ 1500 ft. Meadows, gravel roads, and tarmac. Overnight: San Cassiano. Hotel, breakfast, dinner, lifts and transfers included.
Sept 10: (08:15) Our adventure ends with a 2-hour, 45-minute van transfer to the Venice Airport. We arrive by 11 am in time for flights departing after 1 pm. We can also transfer you to Mestre train station, where you can take a train or a water taxi into Venice or board a train to other destinations in Italy. Transfer to Venice airport and breakfast included.
Please note: Some details of the itinerary may change according to the departure date of your tour. Whenever we run a tour, we make discoveries. Sometimes they are good discoveries, like a wonderful new trattoria, and sometimes bad, like a trail has been washed away. Therefore, we sometimes change our itinerary to improve it by adding wonderful new elements or by removing something that does not work anymore. Rest assured; we always aim to provide you with the best possible experience. We will advise you of any changes to the original itinerary before departure.
This tour is an Activity Level 3 out of 5 = Moderate
In general: This is a Moderate tour for fit hikers who will find the hikes a satisfying workout, while less-fit hikers will find them challenging but do-able and have a great sense of achievement at the end of the week.
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with some steep ascents and descents.
Actual hiking time: Between 3-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning and afternoon.
Distances: Usually 7 - 12 km (5 - 7 mi) daily. Max distance 11.8km (6 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt tracks, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven wooded trails.
Footing: Good, but you must pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles and good treads are required. Sports sandals, running shoes, and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: Note: this is the easiest version of our Dolomites hiking tour, even easier than our Dolomites Lite, but you will still be in an alpine environment with some sustained climbs, just not as long and steep as our classic tour. The elevation gain and loss are less dramatic than in our classic tour, and the terrain is less technical. HOWEVER, you will cross some rock falls, so you need to have good balance and be otherwise steady on your feet. There is one short stretch on Day 6 when we have to “scramble” up and down some short sections. This means you might need to use your hands as well as your feet. Your guides will be there to give you a hand. You will also probably opt to put your bum down on some of the sections going down to avoid overly large and long steps down. It is all very doable.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended but not required, and if you habitually use hiking pole you will regret it if you don’t have them.
Compared to the Cinque Terre: The Cinque Terre is the perfect example of a 3+ rated tour. Our most common comment about the Cinque Terre Hike and other tours rated 3+ is “More challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it”.
Other: This tour is appropriate for “sporty and fit” first-time hikers who enjoy walking and have good balance. People with hip and knee issues might find this tour challenging because of the terrain and the duration of the hikes.
As a point of reference, what is a 1 out of 5 Activity rating? A 1 out of 5 rated tour is a tour without any hiking. Walks would be in towns, cities, and villages, and the countryside walks would be on paved or gravel/dirt roads and occasionally on some packed earth trails. Elevation gain and loss would be negligible.
As a point of reference, what is a 5 out of 5 Activity rating? A 5 out of 5 rated tour is a tour that would be physically challenging and technically difficult even for very fit and experienced hikers. The hikes would have steep ascents and descents on narrow, exposed trails with challenging footing, such as on scree fields or through rock falls and boulders. Distances would be up to 25 km/16 miles per day and feature ascents of over 1,000 m/3,200 feet daily. A 5 out of 5 tour would also mean you would carry a heavier-than-normal pack. None of our tours are rated 5 out of 5. Our most challenging tours are 4.5 out of 5, and they are: the Dolomites Alta Via (because of some exposed trail that requires some technical expertise) and our Republic of Georgia tour, which has some long hikes with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain.
The most convenient airport to the beginning and end of the trip is Venice “Marco Polo” Airport, which has regular flights to and from other European gateway airports such as London, Paris, and Amsterdam as well as direct flights to the U.S.
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