Taste Trails | At the feet of the Pale di San Martino Dolomites

Eco green tour at the foot of Pale di San Martino

Description

Location: Primiero - Val Canali, Passo Cereda

Duration: 4 days

Total length: 33 km 

Recommended period: spring and autumn

A natural and reinvigorating experience in a serene and comforting setting, accentuated by the soft hum of the forests, the scent of undergrowth and the fragrance of wild mountain flowers. The visual effects are no less vivid, with a kaleidoscope of colours crowned by the soft pink of the “Enrosadira”, or Alpenglow, phenomenon that illuminates the Pale di San Martino Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides the unparalleled natural beauty of the area, this corner of Trentino, which encompasses the Val Canali and the Cereda Pass, not to mention vast swathes of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park, pulses with history and culture such as in the hamlet of Tonadico with its splendid Palazzo Scopoli, now known as the “Casa del Cibo”, quite literally the “House of Food”.

This circuit route offers a unique experience for both mind and body, with a range of easy, soothing walks to help you get back in touch with nature, and yourself. Top this off with a wide variety of local cuisine which manages to delight the palate with a medley of traditional flavours and enticing aromas, all in complete respect of the surrounding environment with its stunning views and bountiful nature. Take your pick: a hearty local breakfast, a homemade packed lunch or snacks to take with you or a square traditional meal for dinner.

First leg: Tonadico - Val Canali

Km 

We set off from the town of Tonadico, where we can hop off the bus or find parking by the imposing “Lisìera”, a large thickset building which once housed large boilers for drying clothes. From here we can head off to explore this charming hamlet, one of the oldest and historically important in the entire area. One must-see is the Palazzo Scopoli, built as a noble residence it was transformed over the centuries into the local seat of justice, a “bread bank” and silo and then an administrative building, but today it is known affectionately as the “Casa del Cibo” or “House of Food”. Indeed, this building today narrates and highlights the stories and traditions linked to the area’s cuisine through a solid series of food & wine events which run well into autumn and involve local producers, craftsmen, chefs and numerous associations. From this magnificent palazzo, a short uphill walk takes us to the Church of San Vittore (St. Victor) from where a marvellous view of the entire Primiero valley opens up before our eyes.

We can now continue towards the Val Canali by following the sign-posted Tonadico - Cimerlo trail. This route presents a number of interesting stops, such as the various apiaries, one of which - the apiary of Don Pietro Fuganti, a passionate beekeeper - dates from the 19th century, the wayside shrine of the Madonna della Luce close to which the first hydroelectric plant in the Primiero valley was built and, further on, the suggestive ruins of the ancient stronghold of Castel Pietra. As we continue upwards we’ll come across the small yet enchanting Welperg lake and the villa of the same name which toady houses the headquarters of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park.

And now for our much-anticipated lunch break: first however, we move from Villa Welsperg to the banks of the nearby Canali torrent where a natural and reinvigorating Kneipp course is a welcoming distraction and is sure to whet your appetite before continuing along the Tonadico - Cimerlo trail as far as Chalet Piereni where the owner Erika is ready to welcome you with open arms and, maybe more importantly, a range of exquisite local dishes that she prepares herself. From cheese “canederli”, local bread dumplings, to potato gnocchi with smoked ricotta, smothered in melted butter, to a tantalizing plate of “spätzle de poia”, all of which can be enjoyed on the beautiful terrace overlooking the peaks of the surrounding Dolomites. Many of Erika’s dishes can also be made to go which is a fantastic option if we want to enjoy a picnic with a difference in the surrounding meadows. With bellies full and smiling ruddy faces we take off again making our way up the gentle slopes for about 30 minutes towards the Fosne area, a charming agglomeration of mountain sheds and farmsteads at the feet of the southernmost peaks of the Pale di San Martino range. From here we make our way towards the last stop of the day, the Osteria Cant del Gal tavern. Here we will be greeted by Nicola and his family with a delicious and always surprising selection of local dishes. The “strangolapreti” dumplings are excellent as are the starters featuring a number of Slow Food presidia and the game meats are another strong point. All dishes can be paired with a fine Trentino wine from the well-stocked cellar.

After a busy and exciting day, it’s off to bed. Spending a night here, in the heart of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park, is an experience that truly takes you back to nature and the simple, honest beauty of this unique environment. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to be woken by a roe deer or stag foraging just outside the window!

Second leg: Val Canali - Passo Cereda

Km

We wake up nice and early and tuck into a hearty traditional breakfast before we hit the road again. From the tavern there are several trails leading into the surrounding countryside, all equally inviting, but we take the one that runs pleasantly along the Pradidali stream in a southerly direction towards Villa Welsperg. Before reaching the Villa however we cut off, taking a forest road to our left towards the Dalaibì area. Here we find our next stop, the Agritur Dalaip dei Pap, a farmhouse restaurant run amiably by the jovial Scalet family who have made hospitality their strong point.  After a delicious lunch of genuine cuisine, feel free to wander around the farm, alone or in company, and simply relax and enjoy the experience before heading off again.

Feeling invigorated, we set off towards Cereda Pass and the last stop of the day. Up here the large Broch family is waiting to welcome us to their charming farmstead. Daniela, the third of the six children, has been running the guesthouse and small agricultural business with her family for years with Giulia, the eldest daughter, with an innate passion for the farm and its animals, together with Roberto, taking care of the everyday running of the farm. Valentina, on the other hand, is the new lifeblood of the farmhouse kitchen, becoming her mother's assistant, and finally Elisa, who takes care of the reception and dining services. Staying here at the Broch farm is a genuine experience for all ages, with so much to see and learn in a fabulous mountain setting. 

Third Leg: Cereda Pass – Domadoi Locality

Km

After a full breakfast we’re off again! Before leaving the farm however we can ask the Broch family to prepare a packed lunch to take with us and enjoy a midday meal in the great outdoors.  Now we take the forest road in the direction of the Malga Fossetta farmhouse, which will take us about an hour and twenty minutes and, between June and September, we can even pop into the Malga for a genuine mountain meal or some refreshments, otherwise, the surrounding meadows are the perfect spot for our picnic. 

From the Malga Fossetta we then take the trail that leads down to the Domadoi locality. Here the warm welcome and genuine hospitality of Gianna and Cornelio, owners of the El Camin che Fuma farm, await. With its four bedrooms and cosy dining area this charming farmhouse will take us back in time, to the charm and simplicity of days gone by here in the highlands of Trentino.

Dinner is prepared by Gianna herself on the characteristic “spolèr”, a large traditional stove typical of mountain farmhouses, and the aroma of a freshly baked bread and cakes for next day’s breakfast, enriched with local cheeses and cold cuts, will without doubt make you fall in love with this place.

Fourth Leg: Domadoi Locality - Val Canali - Tonadico

Km

After saying our goodbyes to our hosts Gianna e Cornelio, we cross the national road and start up the trail that leads to Dalaip dei Pape and not long aftewrwards we leave the main trail and turn left along a path in the direction of Val Canali. At a certain point we arrive at the start of the Muse Fedaie Trail, a wide and flat route that crosses the open meadows and verdant forests that surround Villa Welsperg. We can stop here and visit the headquarters of the Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino Natural Park, bearing in mind that the villa is open to the public on weekdays from October 1st until December 24th from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 2.00pm to 5.00pm.

Once we’ve explored and discovered all the secrets of this spectacular park, it’s time to finish our journey and return to the valley and the town. From the car park in front of the Cacciatore Restaurant nearby, we take the path that leads to Tonadico and passes the ruins of Castel Pietra before arriving at the valley's hydroelectric power station, situated on the outskirts of the town. For lunch we recommend a tasteful stop at the Caminetto restaurant, whose cuisine offers a range of traditional Trentino dishes revisitied in a modern key but without altering the genuine flavours of the land and its history. In the afternoon we can take another look at the event calendar at Palazzo Scopoli, especially at weekends, and maybe treat ourselves to a final tasting experience before returning home.

TIPS

Before leaving:

- We recommend you book all your meals and overnight stays before departure. 

SAFETY ADVICE

THE 10 RULES FOR A DAY IN THE MOUNTAINS
1. Be prepared. Plan and double-check your itinerary before setting out.
2. Know your limits. Choose a route that is suitable to your physical and technical abilities.
3. Bring suitable clothing and equipment.
4. Check the weather forecast before leaving.
5. Taking off alone is risky, make sure you bring a mobile phone with you.
6. Find a place to leave information regarding your itinerary and estimated time of return.
7. If you’re not sure about your excursion, do not hesitate to contact a professional.
8. Pay great attention to the signposts and other indications you pass along the way.
9. If you’re feeling tired or unable to go on for whatever reason, don’t think twice about turning back.
10. In case of an accident contact the emergency number 112. 

As you can imagine, the accessibility of mountain itineraries depends on a number of conditions, such as the weather and the time of year, not to mention any number of abrupt environmental changes and natural phenomena. For this reason, the information presented here may have changed since writing so it’s extremely important to gather information concerning the current conditions of the route before setting off by contacting a local mountain hut, the mountain guides, the visitor centres of the natural parks or the local tourist office. 

Equipment

Trekking is fun but also challenging. We recommend you only take the bare necessities with you but don’t forget to bring proper hiking footwear and trekking poles. Ideally, your backpack should weigh about 6kg. 

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