South Tyrol

La dolce vita on the slopes: foodie heaven in South Tyrol

Rest and relaxation: sample the culinary delights of South Tyrol

The stunning beauty of South Tyrol's landscape is perfectly complimented by the gourmet fare on offer at this must-visit location

The best ski trips involve midday drinks on a sunny terrace, gourmet piste-side lunches and evenings spent soothing aching muscles. In South Tyrol, it’s all just part of la dolce vita.

In this northern Italian province, pushed up against the Austrian border, mornings mean waking up to the view of the majestic Dolomites.

These craggy peaks, reaching almost 10,000ft, are considered so beautiful and unique that they have been given Unesco World Heritage status.

Appetites are built up in this mountainous Eden by exploring the 1,200km of slopes that make up the Dolomiti Superski area, putting four valleys and 12 resorts at your fingertips with just one lift pass.

Time to unwind: enjoy the stunning views at Alta Badia Credit: Freddy Planinschek

When the sun is high in South Tyrol that can mean only one thing, it’s time to introduce Hugo. No, not a person, but a drink. It is as if this refreshing drink, combining fizzing prosecco and elderflower cordial, was invented to be enjoyed slope-side in the sunshine. Try one while enjoying the panoramic view in the Eagle’s Nest at Col Pradat Lodge in glamorous Alta Badia.

Aperitivos come in many forms, as do mountainside eateries. Chic, modern Piz Boè in Alta Badia offers fantastic mountain views and is also an ideal spot to sip a refreshing South Tyrolean white wine.

Lunch is taken very seriously in this culinary province. The cuisine is a mix of Mediterranean flavours and Alpine ingredients, carefully balanced to create a delicate fusion. Michelin-star restaurants abound and even the most humble mountain hut, filled with people in their ski wear, is guaranteed to serve incredible dishes made with local produce.

Take Oberholz, for example, the sleek hut of blonde wood, glass and exposed cement, where sophisticated dishes of deer carpaccio on salad with mountain cranberries are followed by rare fried cutlets of Alpine lamb in thyme sauce on ratatouille vegetables. It is all served up alongside views of the slopes of Val d’Ega/Eggental near Bolzano/Bozen.

Rifugio Comici, at the foot of Sassolungo/Langkofel, in Val Gardena/Gröden, is an altogether more rustic affair, but its homemade ravioli and dumpling dishes are a delicious representation of South Tyrol’s twin cultural influences.

Local farms supply all the ingredients at traditional Jora Mountain Dining, in San Candido/Innichen, while Sofie hut is a beautiful wooden retreat with an exceptional wine cellar in Val Gardena and Gostner Schwaige adds flavour to its rich dishes with local edible plants and flowers.

Rustic offering: the highly regarded Rifugio Comici Credit: Helmuth Rier

With so many mountain huts to choose from, a quick lunch on the slopes can turn into a gourmet delight. But make sure you hit the slopes again in the afternoon: it is always important in this foodie paradise to build up an appetite for the next meal.

Once the lifts close, South Tyrolean evenings involve watching the imposing Dolomites turn a soft shade of pink at sunset, perhaps while you are sipping a glass of local schnapps to toast a good day’s skiing, then resting weary muscles.

Grand spa hotels are found throughout the valleys, opening their sauna doors to tired skiers and offering treatments using entirely local ingredients. The traditional spa town Merano/Meran even has thermal baths with 25 indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, saunas Roman caldarium and snow room.

And the best part about South Tyrol’s dolce vita? You get to repeat it all again tomorrow.

Winter’s secret

South Tyrol is the Alps’ best-kept secret with everything you could want from a winter holiday. It’s far more than simply a great place to ski.

Whether you love to ski, want to try alternative winter sports, enjoy delicious food and amazing wine, or want to take time out to work on your wellness, South Tyrol should be your next holiday destination.

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