Sunshine, scent of summer, Italy and hiking. There is something about the views, the warmth and the exuberant greenery of the Alps that just fills me with energy and happiness. Because what else can you ask for from a holiday apart from good food, memorable nature and the freedom to take the day as it comes? The Dolomites offer a smorgasbord of all this - and some more.
Seiser Alm (in German), or Alpe di Siusi (in Italian), is just east of Bolzano (Bozen) in northern Italy. Here on Europe's largest mountain plateau, there are not only numerous cross-country skiing tracks and slalom slopes, but also well-maintained hiking trails. We knew we would like to hike in the Seiser Alm, as some of our friends had been here for several summer holidays. Seiser Alm is also ideally close to Bolzano, where we rented an apartment. So we packed our backpacks with lunch sandwiches, jumped into the rental car and headed here.
Seiser Alm is part of the Dolomites World Heritage Site and the area offers magnificent views to anyone who climbs up here to hike. A full 350 kilometers of hiking trails can be found here around Compaccio (1 m), with the possibility of taking several different lifts to even higher areas.
To get up to Panorama, we parked the car in Seis am Schlern (Siusi Allo Sciliar) and went up to Compass (Compaccio) in the cabin lane Seiser Alm Bahn. We were quite early in the morning, so even though it was great weather and high season, we got up to Compatsch without having to queue. Once in Compatsch, it is then a short walk to the chair lift Panorama which would take us up to the next plateau. A steady stream of hikers and locals with picnic baskets and dogs followed the path to the chairlift. I'm not really particularly fond of chairlifts during the summer, but the lift up to Panorama is neither particularly steep nor particularly high above the ground.
The chairlift dropped us off at the Panorama hotel, from there there were several different hiking trails. Some walked along the plateau and others walked over the mountain tops. Since we had the car to consider, it was easiest to plan for a circular walk across the plateau.
One of the most characteristic mountains in the area is the Schlern (Sciliar) and the Santner spitze (2 m). The mountain range surrounds the entire plateau at Panorama and the flat mountains with the angular end are a profile that is often seen on postcards. We headed towards Santnerspitz to find the most beautiful views for our packed lunch.
The walk went over lush alpine meadows with small white flowers and shacks lining the road. Most of the houses had a large amount of heavy stones on their roofs, probably to hold the roof tiles when the wind picks up. The weather here at high altitude can be quite rough when the autumn storms blow.
The entire landscape felt like one big Windows background. Especially the views of the green meadows with the endless sky behind.
We hiked all the way to the end of the plateau and the restaurant Laurinhütte. The outdoor dining area was full of hikers enjoying life, but as we had lunch bags with us, we simply sat down in the sun-warmed grass below the hut. Nothing tastes as good as thermos coffee after a nice walk. We read about old legends about witches, who are said to have held meetings up here. It is no wonder that these dramatic cliffs and rock formations are associated with something magical, the whole landscape feels a little supernatural.
After lunch we packed up our things and set off on another trail closer to the mountain range and up the slope, towards Edelweiss hut. The afternoon monkey strudel was tempting.
The hiking trails now partly run on wooden planks and wooden bridges. It doesn't look wet at all around the trail, but I imagine that a lot of meltwater probably collects here during the spring. Regardless, the trails are very easy to hike and it would be possible to hike with an all-terrain stroller here without any problems. The only thing that could speak against bringing the pram up here is the chair lift to Panorama. But they send up mountain bikes, so I think it shouldn't be impossible?
We wound our way up towards the Edelweisshütte. We were in no rush. The weather was perfect and the legs were sharp and alert, even though this was our fourth day of hiking.
We find a free table at the Edelweisshütte, with wooden benches sheltered by the wall of the cabin. It is incredibly quiet and peaceful, despite the number of hikers who, like ourselves, are looking for caffeine and something sweet. Many had settled down in the deckchairs with a view of the mountains. There was a chair for me too. The definition of happiness.
Below the Edelweisshütte was a small pond. Very round and shallow. I regret not going and exploring the pond more closely, in hindsight it would have been interesting to know what was grown there.
Between the cottages was a hammock in the shade. The daughter barely had time to lie down before she rocked herself to a nice afternoon nap. Fresh air, monkey strudel and a hammock. This is vacation!
Everywhere we see edelweiss in pots and planters. This beautiful little white flower, which thrives at between 2 and 000 meters above sea level, is one of the most famous symbols of the Alps. The Edelweisshütte is at just over 2 meters, so I guess it naturally thrives here. I can't help but think of the cat's foot flower when I see edelweiss, could it be a relative? Worth googling.
We hiked down the slope again, back to the Panorama lift. Filled with South Tyrol's sweet pastries and fresh air. We had hiked for almost 2,5 hours, excluding lunch stops and coffee stops. Simply a good family hiking day. On the way to the car, I saw a sign advertising 8 different kinds of dumpling. I decided that the next day's hike at Col Raiser would include at least one kind of dumpling. If it turned out that way? To be continued. 🙂
How do I get to Seiser Alm?
Seiser Alm you can find it by driving for 30 minutes from Bolzano to Seis am Schlern (Siusi Allo Sciliar) and then take a gondola up to Compaccio (Compass). We also took a chair lift up to Panorama before we started hiking.
A tip: Munich airport is as close to Bolzano as Milan airport in terms of time by car.
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