One of the nicest places to spend the winter holidays in Italy is Trentino, a mountainous region in the north. Blessed with gorgeous nature and charming villages, Trentino never disappoints its visitors, who can pick from a variety of beautiful valleys and ski resorts.
Of the many valleys, Val di Sole is quickly becoming a favorite of local and international travelers, thanks to all that it has to offer.
Great Selection of Slopes
Val di Sole is home to some of the best slopes in Italy. The Folgarida Marilleva ski area alone has more than 150 km of slopes, of various levels of difficulty, making it perfect for beginner as well as advanced skiers. The slopes are connected by state-of-the-art gondolas and cable cars. Scattered around the various ski stations there are good “rifugi” (mountain huts) where it’s possible to enjoy earthy local food and hot drinks. Some of them even rent rooms, so visitors can literally wake up on the slopes!
Ski equipment rental is available pretty in most Trentino villages, and most of the cable car stations go all the way to the slopes. It’s also possible to buy a ski-pass, which is used to access cable cars and gondolas. Prices vary depending on the ski area and on the duration of the pass, becoming cheaper over longer periods of time.
Villages are truly pretty in Trentino, including in Val di Sole. Dimaro and Male are the main centers in the valley, but the most charming villages are Ossana, where there is San Michele Castle, which dates back to the end of the 12th century and where the Christmas market is usually held; and Monclassico, where more than 50 sundials have been created to adorn the walls of public as well as private buildings.
Ossana hosts the most beautiful nativity exhibit around Christmas time, with more than 900 nativity scenes scattered around the village, in squares, courts and niches. Some are tiny, others bigger; some are traditional and others innovative. There’s even a special exhibit celebrating the cultural and natural diversity of Venezuela. All of them are gorgeous!
The Ossana nativity exhibit starts on 30 November each year and lasts until the second week of January.
Guided tours of Monclassico sundials are available for free, but have to be booked in advance.
Spa and Wellness Centers
Going to a spa is one of the perks of a winter holiday in Trentino. Pejo spa, in Val di Sole, is open year round. Many hotels also have wellness centers. The most unique one is Rifugio Orso Bruno, located right on the slopes at 2200 meters above sea level. There’s nothing better than sitting in a hot jacuzzi and enjoying the incredible views of the Alps!
Easy, Rewarding Hikes
Who said that you should only go hiking in the spring and summer months? Trentino has easy hiking trails that are fantastic in the winter, especially when there is snow.
The area of Passo Stelvio and Val di Rabbi, near Val di Sole, has many trails. One starts at the parking lot of Terme di Rabbi and follows the river, going through the forest and by a hut called Malga Fratte. Before reaching a brige, a left and uphill turn will zig zag up the mountain until reaching a suspended bridge.
Enjoy incredible views of Rio Ragaiolo waterfalls, which freeze over in the winter. The bonus? This place is quite crowded in the summer, but nobody dares to go in the winter when it’s really cold outside. Chances are that anybody who visits will have the place to himself!
Another incredibly beautiful place is Lago dei Caprioli, in Fazzon. Many trails depart in the vicinity of the lake, but even just a walk around it provides great views of the mountains, and – unless the lake freezes – their image reflected on the clear waters is simply stunning!
One of the perks of visiting Italy is the delicious food. Each region has its own specialties and local products. Trentino is known for its production of high quality apples; cured meats such as spek and carne salada; and good wines such as Lagrain.
When in Trentino, make sure to try canederli, a sort of dumpling made with stale bread, flour, eggs and milk mixed with small cubes of spek and local fresh sausage and casolet cheese, served in a light broth. It’s not the lightest of meals, but it gives an energy boost for skiing!
Potatoes rosti are very similar to hashbrown. Pasta dishes are generally prepared with homemade noodles and sauces prepared using local ingredients. Pappardelle pasta with mushrooms is one of the tastiest ones for sure!
Apples dominate the dessert scene. The local specialty is apple strudel; apple pie is a good alternative.
Learn the secrets to some of the most popular local dishes with cooking class offered by many local restaurants and farm tourism (agriturismi). Agritur Solasna in Val di Sole is the best place to take a cooking class. Most of the products used during the class come directly from the farm. There are a few rooms for rent, and the restaurant caters to special events too.
What You Need to Know Before You Go
When to Visit
Any time is a good time to visit Trentino. Skiers can start enjoying the slopes as early as December, but the highest levels of snow are around mid- to late January.
Getting to Trentino
There are no airports in Trentino. Fly intoVerona, Venice or Treviso, and take a combination of buses and trains to reach your final destination.
The entire region is served by public transportation, and throughout the winter months a ski-bus is offered free of charge to those who want to reach the ski stations.
Those who enjoy a bit more flexibility have the option of renting a car directly at the airport.
What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Trentino
Trentino gets very cold in the winter months, and it’s important to be fully prepared for the freezing temperatures. Here’s a selection of items that should be packed. This list doesn’t include ski equipment.
- Thick winter jacket, like the KÜHL ARKTIK DOWN PARKA
- Scarf, hat and neck gaiter
- Thermal underwear and wool socks
- Merino wool or fleece. Layer the KÜHL ALSKA HOODY with the ALVA THERMAL or GRETA FLANNEL for extra warmth.
- Extra warm pants like the lined KÜHL THERMIK JEAN
- Winter hiking boots and comfortable boots for evenings.
- Take a good pair of technical ski gloves, and add a pair of wool or fleece ones you can wear when you’re not on the slopes.
For more information on places to visit; things to do in Trentino; and practical tips on where to stay and how to get there, make sure to visit the local tourism board.
Claudia is a former human rights lawyer who changed careers to follow her true calling. She now travels around the world in search of adventures and unique hiking experiences. Follow her travels at My Adventures Across the World.