Kat Hopps immerses herself into the South Tyrolean rural lifestyle at Adler Mountain Lodge, gateway to the awesome Dolomites in northeastern Italy
Driving up the winding ascent of South Tyrol’s Alpe di Siusi region, you are struck by its anomaly to Italy. A rolling expanse of alpine meadows, villages and medieval churches, the land reveals clusters of wooden chalets at every turn – a betting man would swear you were in Austria.
South Tyrol was once Austrian territory, ceded to Italy at the end of World War I. Today it is peaceful and integrated, and the region’s contrasts are celebrated. Of the 500,000 population, 70% speaks German as its first language, 25% Italian, and 5% the Romanic language, Ladin. The capital Bolzano/Bozen is splintered into pretty cobblestone squares but modern design at Museion is just a short walk away.
Breath-taking panoramic views are so prevalent you can become spoilt. This is especially true at Adler Mountain Lodge, a sustainable 30-bedroom hotel, which sits 1,800 metres above sea level at the foot of Alpe di Siusi – gateway to the Dolomites and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009. The lodge houses 18 guest suites, 12 two-storey guest chalets, a restaurant, spa and infinity pool. The soothing interior formed of mountain larch, spruce and oak flooring is furnished with plush red leather stools and cowhide sofas.
The spa is a lovely introduction to the clean living rituals of South Tyroleans. Natural ingredients like mountain pine and edelweiss are incorporated into treatments and many enjoy the traditional hay sauna as a purifying treatment. No visit would be complete without a walk along one of South Tyrol’s 13,000km natural hiking trails; a trek to the plateau of Stoanerne Mandlen with its stunning views and folklore legend is a must.
Another indulgence is the local cuisine – even simple eateries are exemplary. At mountain café Auener Alm, we savoured traditional potato ravioli with cheese and figs. A must-try is the speck (smoked raw ham) and schüttelbrot (crispy rye bread) in addition to the local cheese and apples.
Although I visited in spring, the region is perfect all-year round, there being an average of 300 sunny days. Winter offers access to 60 kilometres of snow trails while you span the same paths on electric bikes come spring. However you choose to do it, you will return home feeling invigorated.
Fly London Gatwick-Verona from £37.99 one-way – Bolzano/Bozen is approx. a 90-minute drive away. Rooms at Adler Mountain Lodge (adler-lodge.com) start at ¤207 (approx. £150) pp on a full-board basis incl. some drinks, access to the spa, and other wellness facilities & activities. Visit suedtirol.info