Europe’s Best Destinations: Northern Italy

Brenta Dolomites in Italy, Europe

Best places to visit in Europe 2020: Dolomites Italy – Garda Lake

As you start making your Europe travel plans for next year, consider northern Italy: a combination of gorgeous natural landscapes (hello, Dolomites), pristine lakes, historic castles, art cities and tasty culinary traditions, all in one destination.

Read on for a round-up of the best places to visit in northern Italy in 2020.

Best Destinations in Europe: Northern Italy & the Dolomites

Pineta Hotels makes for a good base to explore the wonders of northern Italy. Located about an hour north of Trento and about an hour south of Bolzano, in the northern region of Trentino-Alto Adige, Pineta organizes daily trips to such marvelous destinations as the Brenta Dolomites, Tovel Lake, Thun and Valer castles, the Sanctuary of Saint Romedius, accompanied by expert guide Livio, who knows like no other Val di Non, the valley where the hotel is located, famous for its delicious apples.

Pineta Hotels Val di Non
Pineta Hotels is a good base to explore the wonders of northern Italy in 2019.

One of northern Italy’s most famous attractions is the mountain range of the Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage site in the Italian Alps. There are nine areas to choose from. The closest to Pineta are the Brenta Dolomites, the westernmost group inside the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park, separated from the main Dolomite groups by the valley of the Adige river.

Madonna di Campiglio is a famous ski resort at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites with 150 km (93 mi) of pistes, often hosting World Cup skiing and snowboarding races. Madonna di Campiglio is at the southern end of Val di Sole, the ‘Sun Valley’, a paradise for sports fans, with many opportunities for mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking; the valley has even hosted world competitions in these sports.

Other Dolomites groups on the other side of the Adige river include the Lagorai, Pale di San Martino, Latemar, Catinaccio and Sella.

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Best Destinations in Europe: The Lakes Region of Northern Italy

Northern Italy is also an area of beautiful lakes: Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Italy’s largest lake, Lago di Garda, another favorite with sports addicts thanks to its adrenaline-filled mountain bike trails and ideal wind conditions for windsurfing in its northern tip. Garda Lake is dotted with picturesque villages, such as Sirmione, which features remains of Roman and medieval architecture; Gardone Riviera, with its Vittoriale degli Italiani monument, the former residence of the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio; Limone sul Garda, known for the cultivation of lemons and the longevity of its inhabitants; and Torbole, the right base for those who want to make sports their main vacation activity. Not far from Lake Garda are Canale di Tenno and Rango, listed among Italy’s most beautiful villages; in December, they host Christmas markets.

Lake Garda Italy
Lake Garda in northern Italy is one of Europe’s hot destination for an outdoor vacation.

Speaking of lakes in northern Italy, don’t miss Lago di Tovel, as easy day trip from Pineta; set among the rugged peaks of the Brenta Dolomites in the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park, the lake boasts incredible colors, ranging from dark blue to emerald green.

Best Destinations in Europe: Trentino & Its Castles

For those who like to mix outdoor activities with art and history focused tours, the cities of Trento and Bolzano can be easily reached from Pineta. Both consistently featured at the top of Italy’s most livable cities, Trento and Bolzano have pretty historic centers that can be visited in a day.

Besides the wonderful science museum MUSE, Trento’s main sight is the Buonconsiglio Castle, the ancient residence of the Prince Bishops of Trento, and the region’s most important castle, located in a slightly elevated position above town. Bolzano, set in a valley surrounded by vineyards-rich hills, is the gateway to the Dolomites. In its medieval city center, don’t miss the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, home to the world-famous Iceman, a Neolithic mummy.

Trentino is a land of castles. The reason for so many of them is due to the region’s strategic position between Germanic lands and Italian territory.  Perched on top of rocky spurs overlooking the valleys below, the castles of Trentino are a delight for history buffs. Favorites include Castel Thun, symbol of the Val di Non, for centuries the magnificent residence of the Tono, one of the wealthiest and most powerful feudal families of Trentino; Castel Toblino, in an enchanting position on the shores of the lake by the same name; Castel Valer, inhabited by the same family, the counts Spaur, since 1438.

Castel Valer Trentino Italy
Castel Valer is one of many ancient castles you will find in northern Italy’s Trentino.

Best Foodies Destinations in Europe: Northern Italy & Trentino

Such an active vacation requires energy, and, when you visit northern Italy, refueling will be a pleasure. The cuisine of Trentino-Alto Adige blends Mediterranean flavors, mountain cooking and German influences, using locally sourced, high-quality ingredients.

Typical dishes we love include spätzle, small gnocchi made with eggs, flour, and water; tortel di patate, a fried pancake made with potatoes, to be eaten with cured meats, and especially mortandela, a meatball-shaped, smoked cold cut typical of the Val di Non, and a Slow Food presidium made only by a handful of salumieri; Trentingrana, cheese made from the milk of cows that graze on the high pastures of Trentino.

mortandela Val di Non
Master salumiere Massimo Corrà and its mortandela. Northern Italy is a top foodie destination in Europe.

You can try all of the above delicacies at the local malghe (mountain huts), and at Pineta’s own restaurant, Alla Pineta.

Start planning your 2020 trip to northern Italy: book a stay at Pineta Hotel Nature Resort.

Silvia Donati – Journalist & Certified Hiking Guide

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