The Bel Paese boasts imposing mountain destinations with picturesque villages and evocative landscapes, framed by cultural traditions, gastronomic delicacies and a plethora of activities that can be enjoyed by both leisure and corporate groups.
Up north, the Alps extend from west to east and are the largest mountain range in Europe. Among the most renowned ski resorts are Cortina, Madonna di Campiglio, Cervinia, Sestriere, Livigno, Bormio. But the area is full of little gems that are off the beaten track and that offer just as spectacular views and entertaining activities.
Chamois and La Magdeleine are an oasis of tranquility in Valle d’Aosta: they are nestled at the foot of Mt. Cervino, and spending time here is like living in a fairytale. The villages have about 200 inhabitants and make you feel at home, allowing you to immerge yourself in local traditions and in nature.
Forni di Sopra is the pearl of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The town is located in a sunny valley and is surrounded by beautiful woods and flowery fields. The surrounding historical-geographic area is known as Carnia, and is a geologic and environmental paradise. Gastronomy here is based upon local products like mushrooms and herbs, and features delicious cheeses and homemade beer.
Nova Levante is also located in the Dolomites, but in the region of Trentino Alto Adige, next to the dramatic ranges of Catinaccio and Latemar, famous worldwide for their incomparable beauty. At sunset, the Catinaccio lights up with gorgeous red shades and offers an awe-inspiring spectacle. You can admire the majestic Latemar and the colors of the rainbow in the waters of Lake Carezza, surrounded by a forest of red spruce pines used for creating violins. According to local tradition, this area is the kingdom of Laurino, king of the dwarves. It is a great destination for families with children, who can enjoy dedicated ski slopes as well as fairy-tale tours to discover local myths and legends.
For both leisure groups – such as families and friends – and corporate team building expeditions, the list of activities in the Alps is never ending: ski, alpine skiing, snowboarding, trekking, Nordic walking, mountain biking, ice skating, horseback riding…
The Apennines are the spine of Italy, running from Liguria all the way down to Calabria and Sicily. All along, rich watercourses and dense vegetation create wild landscapes of extreme beauty where a diversity of fauna thrives. The mountains here are not as tall as the Alpine peaks, but they host important ski resorts like Roccaraso, Campo Felice and Rivisondoli.
Famous spots apart, the list of off-the-radar gems on the Apennines is delightful. In Tuscany, the small medieval village of Abbadia San Salvatore is located on Mount Amiata. During Christmas, it offers a traditional festival that mixes the Holy with ancient profane rituals involving fire. On the night of 24th December, over 40 large wood piles – carefully crafted by the locals in the previous days – are lit on fire. The inhabitants sing Christmas carols and eat local seasonal delicacies around the bonfires, which also light up the surrounding valley creating a beautiful scenery.
The Apennine’s main and most renowned attraction for winter sports is the Gran Sasso in Abruzzo. All around it are charming little villages like the medieval gem of Opi, perched on a rocky spur on the wooded Fondillo Valley. Opi, which is included in the list of Italy’s Most Beautiful Villages, is a great destination for archaeology enthusiasts, and also hosts an interesting museum dedicated to the local Apennine chamois.
Moving south, the Nature Parks of Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte offer pristine nature and winter sports in the regions of Calabria and Basilicata. These are great for bird watching (watch out for the golden eagle) and for studying biodiversity in general. Foodies should also seriously consider southern Italy: the Parco della Sila, for example, hosts several century-old farms with specialized agricultural practices, ancient traditions and excellent products. Local delicacies include mushrooms and the Silana potato, which has the IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) certification.
Our journey through Italy’s mountains ends on the glorious Mount Etna, which is Europe’s tallest volcano as well as the highest peak in the Apennines at 3343 meters a.s.l. Just like in the rest of the mountain chain, you can practice winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, Nordic walking and ice skating. Thanks to Sicily’s mild winters, once you leave the mountain you can still enjoy other activities such as horse riding and visiting vineyards that grow on volcanic lands.
Are you planning a leisure special occasion or corporate event on Italy’s mesmerizing mountains? Make it unique and memorable by combining authentic activities and visits to attractions that are off the beaten track! Contact Italian Special Occasions DMC for ideas and for a customized quotation
Nordic skiing in Val d’Aosta – image from scinordicovalledaosta.it
Sunset on the Catinaccio mountain range, Dolomites – image from geolocation.ws
The holy & the profane mix during Christmas on Mount Amiata – image from justintoscana.com
The Apennine chamois thrives in its pristine habitat – image from naturamediterraneo.com
Sicily’s contrasting colors – image from scoprirelasicilia.com