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Val Comelico e Sappada

Surrounded by Dolomite peaks of extraordinary beauty, from every angle the view is one of matchless splendour. The Popera mountains, including in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, include the Bagni, Undici and Croda Rossa peaks and its satellites, Vallon Popera home to the mountain refuge Rifugio Berti. The area is bordered by mounts Cavallino, Peralba, Terze, the Cresta del Ferro ridge and the Dolomiti Pesarine chain.

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Val Comelico e Sappada

Comelico, Sappada, Val Visdende, Val Grande, Popera, Croda Rossa, Peralba, sorgenti del Piave, Laghi d’Olbe

Surrounded by Dolomite peaks of extraordinary beauty, from every angle the view is one of matchless splendour. The Popera mountains, including in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, include the Bagni, Undici and Croda Rossa peaks and its satellites, Vallon Popera home to the mountain refuge Rifugio Berti. The area is bordered by mounts Cavallino, Peralba, Terze, the Cresta del Ferro ridge and the Dolomiti Pesarine chain.

What to do and see

Skiing in Comelico and Sappada: The fantastic pistes of the Alta Val Comelico which, from Padola, reach the 2,000m of Col d’la Tenda, will be part of the world’s largest winter sports complex, Dolomiti Superski. All you need is a single ski pass, that includes the Val Comelico-Alta Pusteria slopes, to add a further 77km of pistes in the new “Giro delle Cime”. The Sappada ski resort also provides fun for all the family, with sunny pistes of medium difficulty, all linked by a convenient ski bus and a cute little road train. For more expert skiers, there are also black pistes, but on the sunny nursery slopes of Borgata Bach and Cimasappada, beginners and children can take their first steps on skis in complete safety.

Cross-country skiing: Sappada has been and still is home to innumerable cross-country skiing champions. With its 20km of trails, or varying length and difficulty it is the place where Olympic skiers Silvio Fauner and Pietro Piller Cottrer do their training. The Val Comelico cross-country trails, between Padola and Valgrande, snake along through magical woods of Norway Spruce in a still utterly unspoilt natural environment, and they are perfect for both the classic and skating technique. World Champion Maurilio De Zolt trained here for many years and these trails are part of the over 1,300km of Dolomiti Nordic Ski trails.

For kids: at Sappada the biggest playground on the snow in the whole of North-Eastern Italy awaits you. 70,000m2 of unadulterated fun with snow-tubing, sled and bobsleigh runs, all served by super-convenient moving walkways. There are other games and ska­ting facilities, plus, for the very smallest visitors, lots of bouncy fun can be had at the Nevelandia Village, packed with colourful inflatables. The park has plenty of refreshment areas for a welcome break. For kids and grown-ups in search of a little peace and quiet, the magical woodlands beckon, and the little snow covered valleys are the perfect setting for energising walks, in a stunning natural landscape that is as welcoming as it is majestic.

Snow-shoe rambles: taking a walk in the winter wonderland that is Val Comelico is a real tonic and there are huge number of routes to choose from, with the chance to try the traditional snow shoes “ciaspe” or “ciaspole” on which you seem to float over the snow. Whether you prefer a solitary excursion into the heart of Mother Nature, by day or by moonlight, or would rather have fun in a group, this is an experience not to be missed. What better way to bring your energetic day to a close than sipping a warming mulled wine and sampling the delicious local cuisine?

Summertime: the Sappada area, with its 120km of pathways, is a much-loved destination for hikers, offering everything from a gentle ramble to the more challenging “vie ferrate” (routes equipped with climbing aids). A big hit with visitors is the trip to the magnificent Olbe lakes, which can be reached from the valley floor or by taking the chair lift in the summer months. The area offers holidaymakers a vast range of leisure and sporting activities including a visit to the Parco della Fauna Alpina nature park, plus tennis, golf and mini-golf, angling at the little lake Ziegelhutte, pony trekking, bike trails and thrill and spills in the Adventure Park. The language, of Germanic origin, the three museums displaying local history and culture, the religious traditions and the unique rustic architecture all add further magic to this enchanting land. To experience this, just take a tour of the delightful villages in Old Sappada with their original wooden houses built to the Blockbau system. In summertime, as in winter, the folk troupe Holzhockar (the name means the woodcutters) keep the local musical traditions alive, with their fantastic mime and dance performances.

The source of the Piave: one of the most well-loved excursions in the Sappada valley takes you to the source of the Piave, at the foot of Monte Peralba, on the Austrian border. As well as all that natural beauty, this is a place steeped in history, a theatre of war during the First World War, the many remaining trenches bearing witness to those tragic days. The 8km route can be covered on foot, by mountain bike or car and you can take a break in any of the many mountain refuges along the route. Another big hit with visitors to the Sappada Valley is the trip to the magnificent Olbe lakes, which can be reached from the source of the Piave or from the village, also taking the chair lift in the summer months.

Woodland magic: Val Visdende with its magnificent woodlands, owned by the local organisation “Regole” and its vast meadowlands furrowed with mountain streams, has been called the “Temple of God, Hymn to the Creator”. It offers many opportunities for excursions both to visit the picturesque hamlets on the valley floor and to follow mountain routes, such as the glorious “Giro delle Malghe”. Another must-see feature of Comelico is the stupendous Valgrande, a landscape of unequalled splendour.

Excursion and mountain biking in the verdant Comelico Valley: Val Comelico is the ideal spot for mountain biking fans. The magnificent Pedalonga trails in Valgrande and Val Visdende, wind through the green pasturelands so typical of the entire valley. There are also hiking trails through the centuries-old woodlands and routes that retrace the history of the Great War in Vallon Popera and Passo della Sentinella.

Carnival and master woodcraftsmen: the Sappada Carnival heralds in the long-awaited, but still-to-come spring. Special Sundays (la Domenica dei Poveri, dei Contadini, dei Signori) are dedicated to, respectively, the poor, peasant farmers and the local aristocracy, then there is more fun on the Monday, the day before Carnival proper on Shrove Tuesday, known as “Martedì Grasso”. The Carnival is led by the “Rollate”, a powerful figure in a costume that is cross between a man and a bear, who, as he advances, rings the brass cowbells tied around his waist. Carnival is also celebrated in style in Comelico Superiore, where every year the people re-affirm the tradition of the “Maskarada” with its historic costumes and “lachè“ and “matazin” masks, the procession wending its way along all the local streets with amazing music and dancing.Both Sappada and Val Comelico have a noble craft tradition, particularly the crafts of wood sculpture and engraving.

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