Summer holidays to La Villa, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO® Summer holidays to La Villa, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO® Summer holidays to La Villa, Italy for summer 2023 & 2024 with SNO®
Highlights: • UNESCO protected landscape • Charming village • Great for foodies
We can’t get enough of the Dolomite walking trails and the region around La Villa has some corkers. Serious hikers can head into the Puez-Odle Nature Park (via the Gardenaccia chair lift), where the peaks famously resemble a row of needles. The Santa Croce (Holy Cross) Pilgrimage Site is a very popular hiking spot and it’s also possible to scale the Sasshonger mountain from here if you want a full day of legwork (with knee-weakening views to boot). If you take the Piz La Ila lift from the village, it leads to some gorgeous routes through forests and meadows including trails leading down into Corvara.
There are plenty of shorter, gentler routes too - like the Tru di artisc between La Villa and San Cassiano, which has locally made sculptures dotted along it. If you’re here with little ones, there’s a lovely, buggy friendly walk from La Villa church, around the Sompunt lake then down to Pedraces and along the river back to La Villa. Another we like is the path from Colfosco to the Pisciadú waterfalls.
Cycling’s a huge part of summer life in La Villa - this is where the Maratona bike races set off each July, bringing thousands of athletes from all over the world to ride between Dolomite villages and mountain passes. The tourist office (on Strada Colz) often run guided road tours to show you the most scenic spots, or you can head off and explore under your own steam. Whether you want something family friendly or fiercely challenging, you can’t run out of places to explore on two wheels.
For mountain bikers, the Movimënt zone up at Piz La Ila and Piz Sorega has three staffed downhill runs of varying difficulties plus a couple of fun pumptrack loops to get the blood pumping. Beyond this, the 80km+ of off-road trails in the region are some of the most scenic you’ll ever ride. To start with, an easy route goes upriver to Corvara and on to the Campolongo Pass, following wooded singletrack back to La Villa (stop off at the Rifugio Cherz for a seriously scenic lunch break). A more challenging trail takes you via hairpin turns through San Cassiano and Malga Valparola towards the Valparola pass, then climbs a forested path to the Falzarego pass and the Col Gallina viewpoint before heading back via an interesting WWI museum (for some leg rest and local history).
The Sellaronda tour is an absolute must – clocking up around 60km through the Campolongo, Pordoi, Sella and Gardena mountain passes and some incredibly pretty mountain roads (including a few parts of the Giro d’Italia route).
A longer tour totalling around 100km is the Tour Fedaia, a loop leading over to Corvara, past Arabba and the Marmolada glacier, all the way round to the Val di Fassa then through Val Gardena and back to La Villa.
Last time we checked, the Piz La Ila lift station and La Villa tourist office had E-bike rental points – two of a number dotted around the valley so you can pick up, charge and drop off wherever’s most convenient. These are a super way to try some of the more testing trails without reducing your legs to utter jelly – fitted with a nifty motor that takes care of the extra pedal power.
Also known as the Rubatsch Residence, this is a huge building with a fortified wall, circular towers and typical embrasures of the late middle ages. It was built by Hans von Rubatsch in 1536 and is most widely associated with the knight Gran Bracun who fought bloody battles in the region. The castle has been restored and sometimes hosts concerts in its courtyard.
The Church of Our Lady on Strada Rottonara was consecrated in 1516 and has a simple spired exterior. Inside you can see a Gothic altar made locally and Tuscan Gothic lateral alters.
Accessed from the nearby village of Colfosco, these waterfalls pour down rocks in the foothills of the mighty Sella Group. You can reach the falls via an easy 4km or so footpath through meadows from Colfosco.
If you want to see typical examples of Dolomite rock, this UNESCO protected area is your place with all the typical characteristics associated with the region. The park wraps around the Puez and Odle mountain groups - the name Odle means ‘needles’ referring to the pointed nature of the peaks. Enter by some lovely hiking routes through Colfosco’s Edelweiss Valley. The Vallunga woods are particularly pretty, filled with Norwegian spruce, Swiss pine and larch trees. Look out for chamois and roe deer, eagle owls and the wood grouse.
Spanning over 25 thousand hectares, this is one of South Tyrol’s biggest protected areas. The park has fascinating geological features including karst formations like sink holes and fissures. It also includes the Braies lake which is famously beautiful (cameras at the ready) as well as the Prato Piazza plateau.
Towards Badia, this park covers seventeen acres of meadow and forest, and features a 2km trail where you’ll pass deer and red deer in their natural habitat. Kids usually love the game park by the Paraciora hut here.
Have a go at Nordic walking, experience Kneipp therapy, work up a sweat in the outdoor gym or zoom down the Bike Beats trails. Meanwhile, kids have climbing walls, trampolines and zip wires to enjoy. Located at Piz Sorega and Piz La Ila, the Movimënt Parks offer plenty to do as well as awesome scenery. Use the Alta Badia mountain pass to reach them.
Badia (5 min drive, 45 min walk) – peaceful, rustic village with a strong sense of cultural heritage.
San Cassiano (5-10 min drive/bus, 45 min walk) – delightful Dolomite village with a reputation for world-class cuisine. Home to the Museum Ladin Ursus Ladinicus where you can see the prehistoric bear skeleton found on local slopes.
Corvara (10 min drive, 50 min walk) – sunny mountaineering village and the beating heart of Alta Badia tourism. The Biotope Lake area has swimming ponds, a lawn and a playground for children.
Colfosco (10 min drive, 1h walk) – small, quiet village with gargantuan peaks. Home to an adventure park and animal park.
Arabba (25 min drive) – beautiful Veneto village in the Fodum valley.
Le Val (30 min drive) – a village of hikers and artisans amid stunning meadows.
Cortina (1h drive) – crowned ‘The Queen of the Dolomites’ a fashionable mountain town with fine shops and restaurants. Scenes of the original Pink Panther and James Bond For Your Eyes Only were filmed here.