The Green Dream: An Idyllic Hike in Merano 2000


A green so strong and bright it almost hurts your eyes. The hike I wrote about last time was a proper climb and a sweaty workout. This one is more about idyllic meadows, birds singing, cows grazing on the green hills and alpine huts with domestic animals: a family hiking route, one could say. The Dolomites on the background make the hike spectacular, so rest assured, this is no regular Sunday stroll (unless you live up there of course, you lucky one).


So, we started the hike at the parking area of the Hafling Dorf, in Avelengo Paese, in South Tyrol (in Northern Italy). We did the route number 2 (which then changed to 2A): it is a loop trail and marked with a red line signifying an easy trail (leicht). And that it was: pleasant, beautiful, green and panoramic.



The time estimate for the hike given in the signposts was four and a half hours. It took us six hours to finish it. I don’t want to believe it was the two delicious apple strudels that weighed us down; we stopped many times for pictures and had two refreshing breaks at the huts. We were in absolutely no hurry but it’s good to reserve enough time for the trek before the sun starts to set. The huts on this route are Wurzeralm, Vöraner Alm and Leadner Alm. Once again, I cannot but help to wonder at the wide selection they have, from a wide selection of sausages and other local delicacies to homemade bread and sweet pastries.


This map will be of use to you if you decide to head up there. As you can see from the map, there are so many trails ranging from easy and short walks to more demanding summit treks. To me this place is a hiker’s paradise. A strong recommendation to all you travel, nature and outdoor activities enthusiasts out there!


Reaching New Altitudes: Discovering Merano 2000


I’ve had this dream of hiking in the Alps for quite some time: something of a mixture of the magnificent views  from the Sound of Music and an active and sweaty sports holiday. The dream came true in August. We spent our holiday in Northern Italy, in Trento, and did day trips in different directions. One destination was the summit Merano 2000. My highlights and tips, here you go:


So what is it about?
Merano 2000 is a hiking and recreational area with numerous panoramic hiking trails. A cable car (Via Val di Nova) will take you up to the summit in seven minutes. Quite a quick ride from the ground level to the mountains. There is a wide range of routes (altogether 19 of them) from a brisk stroll along a gravel path to more demanding vertical rises towards the mountain peaks. The place also has tens of kilometers of mountain biking trails.


Why go?
Because: the views, the workout and the views. And the bonus reason: the delicious apple strudel bigger than your head. The views to the Dolomites (which is an UNESCO World Heritage site) are stunning.

 


How?
The trekking trails are clearly signposted all the way. We did the hike from Piffing to the Kuhleiten hut. It consisted of the following parts: first an easy trail along a gravel path (trail number 3). Then a more demanding ascent marked as only for experts (oops): we did some improvising here and took a little shortcut – we ended up almost crawling on all fours up the hill. The rest of the way we then decided to follow the marked path, which was a moderately heavy trail. I’d say that the more arduous paths require a good physique and that the given time estimates in the wooden signs are  mostly accurate.


For whom?
For so many: for those who enjoy the outdoors, gorgeous scenery, being active and summer adventures. For couples, entire families with children, for all ages really. All in all, it is an excellent outdoor holiday option for those, who relax best by staying in motion.

Timewise
Note, that during the high season the last cable car heads back down at 6 o’clock pm, which is relatively early as there would be daylight still for a few more hours. On Fridays, the ropeway operates until 9 o’clock pm.


The biggest surprise?
What surprised me was the big number of (a total of 19) Hütten (mountain huts) and the wide selection they had: you can try the traditional treats of the local gastronomy, for example a Gulaschsuppe, Käseknödel or then my favourite, Südtiroler Apfelstrudel. A piece of warm apple pie with whipped cream (how else) tastes close to heavenly in the refreshing mountain air. The language used is German and the prices are very reasonable. A strong recommendation to these refreshing and tasty oases. Some of the huts even have an Übernachtungsmöglichkeit (gotta love German), that is, the possibility for overnight accommodation.


How much?
The cable car ride cost 27 Euros for two people (round trip): this was the happy hour price (valid from 2 o’clock onwards), the normal price being 20 euros per person. The snacks in the huts were affordable.


What to remember?
First, sunscreen. Take it from someone whose lips were peeling for several days after the holiday: remember to put sunblock on your lips as well. Other necessities: comfortable and sturdy shoes, a hat, a water bottle and a camera to capture all that beauty. And also a sweater with long sleeves: it is quite chilly and windy high up there (says someone who insisted on enjoying her espresso in a sports tank top, and in goose bumps).



I am a girl who loves to be by the water (sea, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, any water source really) but now the mountains definitely have a strong hold of me. When and where to next, those are the questions once again.

Have fun, viel Spaß, up there!

Porto Venere, the Sixth Gem


As the boat approaches Porto Venere, we spot the tall colourful and narrow buildings packed tightly side by side by the coastline. Higher above sits the citadel Castello Doria. Shimmering white sailing boats swing on the waves in the harbour. A madam in a brimmed hat sips white wine on the terrace of the Grand Hotel. Welcome to Porto Venere, located in Liguria on the Italian Riviera, in the northwest of Italy.

We decided to do a daytrip to this picturesque fishing village from the town of La Spezia. The reason: we had some good time in our hands and had read that it would be a beautiful destination. We had reserved three days of our road trip for exploring the villages of the Cinque Terre but I must be frank, in two good days we felt like this was beautiful and nice to visit but what’s next. And so we hopped on a boat and headed towards the south. In around 40 minutes we arrived in this small town with less than 4000 permanent residents. The cost of the boat ride was 16 euros for two people one way.


Porto Venere got its name from the goddess of Venus who was born from the foam of the sea. This mythical connection comes to mind when the tall foamy wave crests hit against the rocks of the shore. If the Cinque Terre could have a village number six, the title should definitely go this gem by the Gulf of Poets. All six villages are regarded by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Porto Venere is charming and pastel-coloured with narrow medieval streets, houses covered in gorgeous lilac flowers and numerous small shops selling a selection of fresh and delicious pestos.


What are the best to-do’s? Climb up the cobblestone streets to the Castello Doria (entrance 3 euros/person) and marvel at the splendid views of the Chiesa di San Pietro and the harbour. There is a hiking trail from Porto Venere to Cinque Terre that starts right behind the castle. It is about a five hour walk so come prepared, if you opt for it. Instead of the considerable hike you can change into your bikini and take a swim in the sea where the poet Byron once swam too. And then, enjoy a tasty lunch for example at the seaside restaurant Ristorante La Marina. They serve the Caprese di Bufala originally on a stick and the chef is the former cook of Juventus.



Grazie e Arrivederci Porto Venere!