Notes From the Road:
The Dolomites
Family Multi-Active

For years when travellers asked me where they should go next, I would respond immediately and emphatically: the Dolomites.

There is simply something magical about this place. Perhaps its allure boils down to the fact that it’s less known to North Americans compared to much of Italy and therefore offers an element of surprise the first time you take in its majestic beauty. Or perhaps the magic owes to the gray Dolomitic stone that turns rose-coloured during sunset. Maybe it’s that in many ways, this doesn’t feel like Italy at all, placed as it is in southern Tyrol, which was actually part of Austria until the First World War.

I was lucky to discover this alpine region while living in Milan, and it became a wonderful escape from city life. As much as I loved the active lifestyle offered by the skiing and hiking, I found myself particularly drawn to the warmth and hospitality of the people. One hotelier explained it to me this way: these little mountain valley villages are so remote, so far from the beaten path, that they can’t rely on reputation alone—almost as though, despite the wealth of beauty here, they don’t expect tourists to visit. As a result, they’re especially grateful to those who venture to their tiny towns and offer a level of service that will no doubt make you and your family want to return (in my case, many times!).

Reach New Heights

The Dolomites’ stunning peaks have drawn foreign mountaineers for centuries. On our Dolomites Family Adventure, join us as we take in the silence of the trails, the dramatic, serrated mountain peaks dotting the scenery, and the warm, understated local hospitality.

Entrance into the intricate WWII tunnel system.
Entrance into the intricate WWII tunnel system.

Having become enamoured by the book A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin, which partly takes place in the Dolomites, I was also intrigued by the role this region played in the war—to discover, for instance, the tunnels and outposts where the Austrians and Italians faced each other on the front lines.

While the book sparked my interest, fortunately, there are even better ways to experience the region’s history. In fact, on our new trip you discover two areas of the Dolomites – the Alpe di Siusi (Europe’s largest mountain plateau) and the Alta Badia (with its unique Ladino popular culture, its own language and First World War sites). The region offers breathtaking hikes past gloriously bright wildflowers, mountain biking, rock climbing and the chance to enjoy the entire panorama from cable cars and chair lifts. An area this inspiring brings out the adventurer in anyone.

Fortunately for foodies, there are as many culinary adventures to be had as active ones. Think polenta and mushroom risotto by day, and Michelin stars by night (for the parents, that is—for the kids our guides have something fun up their sleeves). And what kid wouldn’t have a giggle over ordering stinco di maiale (slow-cooked pork)?

I’m thrilled that when I recommend the Dolomites to families, I no longer have to qualify my answer with a “but… we’re not running trips there at the moment.” Our return to this region is long overdue, so put on your dirndls and lederhosen and step into the Alpine world of the Dolomites.

A beautiful adventure awaits.

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