When most people think of Italy, they think of the gondolas of Venice, the stately monuments of Rome, and the gorgeous beaches of the Amalfi Coast. The Italian Alps are some of the most majestic mountains in all of Europe, but because Italy is such a cultural mecca, they often get overlooked. The Italian Alps are home to pristine mountain lakes, quaint towns that look as though they should be inhabited by elves and gnomes, and breathtaking vistas that every nature lover should strive to see in their lifetime.
If you’re looking to visit a quaint alpine village that looks as though it should be occupied solely by whimsical creatures straight out of a fairytale, consider visiting Monte Lussari. Monte Lussari—which is located in the comune of Tarvisio—is situated near the borders of Austria and Slovenia, so multiple cultures influence this lovely snow-capped town. The diversity of the art and architecture of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Lussari church is a monument to Monte Lussari’s dedication to the peaceful coexistence of three distinctive cultures. Visitors can book a room at one of Monte Lussari’s rifugios—which is a hotel that is located on a mountaintop—for an unforgettable alpine experience that includes breathtaking views, a cozy, thick blanket, and an in-house restaurant that serves sumptuous Italian food and wine and piping hot espresso. The best way to reach Monte Lussari is via an alpine gondola from the nearby comune of Camporosso.
Italy is known for its stunning beaches and lakes, but few spots are quite as magnificent as Lago Blu. As the name implies, Lago Blu is a brilliant shade of blue due to the mineral content of the water. Lago Blu famously serves as a natural mirror to the Matterhorn—which is known in Italy as Mount Cervino. Lago Blu is a little too chilly for swimming unless a polar plunge is your cup of tea, but you can always explore the lake’s blue waters via kayak. There are plenty of hiking paths that offer panoramic views of the brilliant blue lake. During the warmer months, Lago Blu is one of the finest picnic spots in all of Europe. Local lore states that a series of submerged twisted tree branches are actually the home of an inhospitable shepherdess whose house was swallowed up by Lago Blu after she refused to offer a wandering stranger shelter on a cold, stormy night. If you picnic on the shores of Lago Blu, it might be in your best interest to share your food with any bedraggled strangers who pass by.
Travelers who wish to spend time exploring some of the most magnificent sawtooth peaks of the Alps should certainly visit Puez-Odle Nature Park in South Tyrol. Puez-Odle Nature Park is relatively small, but the winding trails that allow visitors to explore some of Europe’s most breathtaking alpine terrain are incredible beyond compare. The hike to the summit of Seceda Peak is one of Puez-Odle Nature Park’s most popular hikes. The trek to Seceda Peak is a surprisingly moderate hike that winds through several jagged, dramatic mountain peaks. Needless to say, the grand highlight of the journey to Seceda is the panoramic view at the summit.
No trip to Italy is complete without indulging in some of the country’s delectable food and wine. Since the height of the Roman Empire, Italy has been celebrated for its exceptional vineyards. The quaint village of Conegliano—which is located in the foothills of the Alps—is celebrated for producing magnificent Prosecco. Prosecco is an affordable and accessible Italian sparkling wine that is beloved around the world. Visitors can book a bicycle tour which passes by several sun-drenched Prosecco vineyards. There is even a designated wine road that allows visitors to tour multiple vineyards in a single day. Conegliano is also home to several stately churches, a series of well-preserved Venetian Villas, and a distinctive Jewish graveyard with ornate tombstones.
The Alps are generally synonymous with Switzerland and Austria, but the Italian Alps are a stunningly beautiful region that is well worth exploring. There are few things more cozy than sipping premium Italian espresso atop a rugged mountain peak next to a roaring fire. If you find yourself yearning to book a chalet in Switzerland, consider booking a rifugio in Italy instead.