Trentino-Alto Adige: Hiking and Eating in Northern Italy


In and around the Tyrol, cultures have fused into one mellow cluster. For One Planet Journey’s Carolina Fabricius, this hiking adventure took place in early June in the western parts of Trentino-Alto Adige in Northern Italy, and offered delicious food, breathtaking views, charming villages and friendly people.


Get a Taste of the Alps

Getting to know a new country, which is what I am doing after temporarily moving here, requires time and can be accomplished in various ways. One of which is through food experiences, a rather delightful method. After a short ski lift ride from the mountain village Peio Fonti, located at an altitude of about 1300 metres, we reach an alpine rifugio, Rifugio Lo Scoiattolo. A rifugio is a mountain hut that always offers shelter, but can also provide a place to sleep, as well as food. We came right before beginning our first hike of the week towards Lake Cohel, an exemplary light route to start off the trip.


A Gastronomical Paradise 

While pizza, bolognese, and lasagna will always remain delicious classics of the gastronomical heaven called Italy, Rifugio Lo Scoiattolo encourages our taste palettes to broaden with a menu that contains traditional and locally produced food, such as pizzoccheri alla solandra and canederli (the Italian knödel). Though it is difficult to make generalisations about Italian food, pizzoccheri alla solandra incorporates several classic components from the region: fresh pasta, cabbage, potatoes and the richness in fat from the butter, as opposed to using olive oil. There is a regional pride to be cherished and inspired by here, keeping the traditions alive. Might this be traces of campanilismo, an Italian concept which refers to a territorial pride and faithfulness to the own village? Regardless, we are thankful to start off this excursion by tasting the Alps.


Locally Produced

Locally produced is a phrase that follows us on this adventure. About 4 km from Peio Fonti, we find ourselves in the small village of Cogolo. It is a relaxing and quiet place, at least off-season, where almost every day has a Sunday character to it. For 10 euros, anyone who is interested and of age can enjoy a guided tour with the owner of a small business brewery at Birra Pejo. It concludes with the highlight of the experience: beer tasting, including appetisers to complement it, everything locally produced, of course.

Trentino’s recognition extends beyond its known beauty, to the delicious tasting water and its health benefits, as the alpine springs provide water rich in minerals. This becomes especially clear during hiking tours among stones that shimmer, sparkle and shine in orange and silver tones. It’s impossible to recreate these particular beers, made with this very water, in any other way, the brewer informs us. It is not only a question of which products to use in the production process, but also how they produce it. Naturally, you can purchase the beer in the store afterwards, to bring the taste and memory of it back home. 

Table with cheese, bread and cold cuts
Locally produced appetisers at Birra Pejo in Cogolo


Val di Rabbi is mostly famous for its family-friendly hike to the 100-metre hanging bridge, dangling 60 metres above ground. However, another highlight of the trek was the malga, a mountain cabin, which we reached after about one hour in the alpine forest. 


At Malga Fratte you enjoy not only spectacular views, but also products made literally right next door, from the very cows we share the hiking path with. As far as the eye can see, there is no physical boundary for these animals. In other words, we have to co-exist in this space. No wonder the panna cotta at this malga, drizzled with a magical caramel sauce, tastes better than any other I have ever tried.

Plate of pana cotta with chocolate drizzle
The famous panna cotta at Malga Fratte


War History & Witches

At the beginning of June, a week or two remains before the season takes off. Picturesque villages around the area wait for their guests to fill them up with great anticipation, and the few visitors in place enjoy some alone time with Mother Nature. It is not uncommon to greet the same newfound friends during the outings of the week, as we are only a few people sharing the area at this point.

The old city of Peio (without the Fonti) is at a walking distance of about 30 minutes from our headquarters. For those curious about history, Peio is the right destination. Until the end of WWI, the region formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the small museum in Peio, check out the military objects on display from the war between the Empire and Italy. A stone’s throw away, we find another exhibition, Museo delle Streghe di Pejo (The Witch Museum). Here, the passionate and well-read owner spends hours speaking about these misunderstood women, witches, and their role as matriarchs in a patriotic (and religious) society. At least for those who understand Italian.

Museum display cases
The 32 m2 Museo delle Streghe di Pejo


the beauty of Hiking in Northern Italy

Winter and its chilly grip lingered this year. The apartment owner tells us that only one week ago snow covered the ground. As the week progresses, it increasingly melts off the mountain tops, hinting that summer has, at last, reached the north, to the delight of both residents and tourists. Walking around green-glowing Lake Pian Palù, we get close to the snow-covered summits. For those in the mood for a picnic with a panoramic view of mountains and waterfalls, surrounded by greenery on a rustic hiking route, this is a must rather than an option.

Alpine lake with green tint surrounded by forest and mountains.
Lake Pian Palù, glowing of green 


We began the week hiking from Baita Socina to Lake Cohel, and to finish it off we started from the same point but continued up the mountain towards Rifugio Doss dei Cembri, at an altitude of almost 2500 metres. Sometimes, mountain weather brings sun and blue skies and other times, fog covering our path. While it hides the panoramic view, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, look at it as a moment to make lemonade out of the lemons life occasionally gives us. The mysterious atmosphere leaves room for the imagination to see creatures hiding in the mist.

Man standing on rocks on on a hiking path covered in fog.
A foggy hike towards Rifugio Doss dei Cembri


The mountainous weather can feature snow adventures in summer, and it is not every day you are able to have a snowball fight in mid June. Even though the snow is slowly melting, it is not yet ready to leave completely. While the rifugio is closed before the season commences, it provides a perfect stop for another picnic before heading for the glacier, where the more strenuous hike towards Pejo 3000 starts for the more experienced hikers. As I acquainted myself with this country, the temperatures of the trip brought me right back to my North European heritage and its variable weather. The prepared adventurer makes sure to have an extra pair of socks, long pants, and a couple of layers of warm sweaters in the backpack. 

A glacier flanked by mountains in foggy conditions.
A glacier close to Rifugio Doss dei Cembri


An Off-season Hiking Experience in Northern Italy

Hiking in Northern Italy can truly provide a taste of that sweet mountain life, especially during off-season travels to smaller villages. At the local supermarket, the employees greet returning customers by their first name, and one can meet the same resident working in both the shop and the restaurant. You greet each other as acquaintances on the Sunday hike. While we might not always see it, the fact remains that travelling off-season means less strain on resources. What is tangible, though, is the solitude and cultural immersion you experience during these calmer periods. 


Arrivederci, for now

If there is a single thing everyone must try at least once before leaving, it is a freshly baked, oven warm and cream filled Krapfen (also known as Berliner or Boule de Berlin) from Pasticceria Della Nonna in Peio Fonti. After indulging in one final bite, we have to head back south. As we say goodbye to the owners of the apartment, they let us know that the accommodation is fully booked from the day after we leave. As we go home, meeting countless excited vacationers, we are grateful for our off-season trip, offering that serenity many long for when wishing to spend time in nature. There is much to be discovered in Trentino-Alto Adige. This is neither the first nor last time we leave baffled, not only by its beauty, but by the friendliness of its people. 

A cow grazing in an Alpine landscape
A newfound friend greeting us on our way back



Who is this trip for? 

Hikers of all levels, there truly is something for everyone in this family friendly area. Just remember to bring the right clothes with multiple layers and sturdy hiking shoes. Always inform someone of your destination, regardless if you join a group or go on a solo hike.

When should I go?

If you are looking for tranquillity and want to support sustainable tourism, try the off-season. There are two seasons in the mountains, both in summer and in winter. 

How do I get there?

Bolzano is a good starting point, from there take the train, bus or rent a car.

What food can I not miss when going?

Typical Italian (sweet) breakfasts at Pasticceria Della Nonna and traditional food options at a baita or a malga while hiking. Support local producers as much as you can.

What should I not do? 

Bring stones, flowers etc. back home. We must leave the area as we found it. And, of course, don’t leave anything behind.


Have you been hiking in Northern Italy? What region of the Alps do you recommend? Let us know in the comment section! Subscribe to our newsletter and benefit from travel guides, sustainable tourism and luxury travel tips, insightful interviews, and inspirational places to visit. One Planet Journey – The World’s First Deep Travel Magazine.


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