The Magical Italian Alps: Edible Adventures in Italy’s Dolomites & Alto Adige

AlpINN at sunset

For lovers of Italy’s food and wine and Switzerland and Austria’s Alps, Italy’s South Tyrol/Alto Adige region is your place. Set against the striking Dolomites mountains, South Tyrol’s Italian-Germanic culture makes the happiest of combinations. 

Here, wineries marry the best of Italy and Austria/Germany wine styles, alongside luxury alpine lodges, an annual ethical chefs event bringing together the region’s (and world’s) best chefs, and, of course, superb food. Read on for a few of the region’s best experiences. 

Luxury Alpine Inns
In the village of San Cassiano, Rosa Alpina would be at home in the Swiss or Austrian Alps with its pinewood and refined modern alpine décor. As home to three Michelin-starred restaurant St. Hubertus, the inn also houses a world class spa, indoor pool, game room (with pool table) and small movie theater. Set against the dramatic Dolomites, this cozy hotel offers 5-star luxury while embracing the rusticity of its natural surroundings.

A more affordable but still pampering option is Hotel Petrus, roughly 35 kilometers away in the larger alpine town of Brunico. Rooms are modern and soothing in whites and woods, with balconies and views gazing out to mountains on either side. Behind the hotel, there is an expansive patio and half indoor/outdoor 25 meter pool, accommodating in all seasons.  

View from Rosa Alpina rooms


Cured fish at St. Hubertus


One of the World’s Best Restaurants
In Rosa Alpina, World’s 50 Best Restaurant St. Hubertus gained its first Michelin star in 2000, moving to two in 2007, then three stars since 2017. Chef Norbert Niederkofler wows with local ingredients and dishes true to the South Tyrol region, employing wild game, lake fish, alpine herbs and preserved ingredients over winter months. The pinewood, antler and fireplace-lined dining rooms are relaxed yet refined, a merely 10 tables. With Norbert’s sustainability and local focus, dishes are nurturing as they are inspired, down to glazed eel in smoked broth or signature veal tongue with lingonberries. The wine list is equally impressive, heavy on the region’s wine bounty and small, rare producers. 

For further dining, visit greats like two Michelin-starred Locanda Margon up in the hills above the town of Trento serving refined Italian. On the more rustic, organiz side, dine on Piedmont and Trento specialties in a country house marked by fireplaces, 2 Camini, which is also a Slow Food member.

CARE’s Ethical Chefs Days
Started by Norbert Niederkofler of St. Hubertus, CARE’s Ethical Chef Days is both an event and a community of chefs, winemakers, hotels/inns and companies promoting an ethical, sustainable approach to food, agriculture and business in the region, with a motto of “Actions speak louder than words.” 

Each winemaker, inn and restaurant featured here is part of this eco-sustainable network and CARE’s annual event held in South Tyrol, an ideal way to check out the region. The even also brings together chefs of similar practices from around the world to cook over a series of events, like Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco or Luca Fantin of Il Ristorante, Tokyo. Check here for 2020 event dates. 

Alois Lageder vineyards


Spectacular Wineries
Trentino–Alto Adige arguably produces some of the most elegant wines in the world. A meeting of the Germanic and Italian, the region’s wines are mineral, crisp and complex, grown on mountain slopes and in the valleys below. Near the village of Magrè, Alois Lageder winery dates back to 1823. Remarkably, it’s still run by the Lageder family, currently by Alois Lageder IV, his sister Wendelgard, her husband enologist Luis von Dellemann and Alois’ son Alois Clemens Lageder. Pinot Grigio, Gewurtztraminer and Muller Thurgau grapes on the white side give way to Lagrein, Pinot Noir and Cabernet reds, all produced biodynamically.

Founded in 1893, award-winning Terlan is renowned for pioneering aged white whites in Italy that compare to the world’s best whites —White Burgundy from France or German Riesling— able to age beautifully for decades. Terlan wines boast the depth and minerality of Burgundy and Germany, but are uniquely Tyrolean, available to taste at the winery where they house aged whites back to the 1950s. 

Dining at AlpINN


Kraueterhof Hauser herb farm cottage


Alpine Dining and Photography Museum at the Edge of the Mountains
With surrounding mountain views at 2,275 meters, glass-walled AlpINN Food Space & Restaurant deserves the superlative: “breathtaking.” Perched up at over 7400 feet at the edge of the alps, Norbert Niederkofler’s modern restaurant employs an open kitchen, sourcing from local farms, reached via cable car atop the peaks. Expect alpine ingredients in seasonal dishes like fondue or risotto with wild garlic, wood sorrel and rosemary. 

Housed in the same building is the LUMEN Museum of Mountain Photography, featuring some of the world’s best mountain photography seamlessly blended with mountain views outside for a dramatic melding of indoor-outdoor “art.” 

Herb Farm

Situated on a mountain hillside surrounded by jagged peaks and green valleys, Krauterhof Hauser is an herb farm and alpine wood cottage housing a range of products all made with over 50 different alpine herbs grown on their grounds. Think soaps and sachets, cosmetics and teas, salts and balanced liqueurs made with everything from fennel to lavender, mint to pine. Herbal aromas and the charming cabin make an idyllic country stop a short drive from the town of Brunico, where you can tour the grounds and take home items from their shop.