90% of Americans who I mention the Alpe di Siusi to have never heard of it and don’t know anything about its location, culture, and languages. On the other hand, Europeans have been coming to this area for decades to ski in the winter and hike in the summer and fall.
This part of Italy used to part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire and was lost to Italy after WW1. The main cultural and linguistic influences are therefor Germanic and Romanic. This mix of Austrian precision and orderliness and Italian easygoingness makes for a very enjoyable atmosphere and wonderful cuisine.
The Alpe di Siusi or the Seiser Alm in German is the largest mountain plateau in Europe and is located in the north of Italy, bordering Austria. The Alpe sits at an altitude between 5,500 and 7,700 feet and covers 20 square miles.
To use the word breathtaking in regards to the Alpe di Siusi is an understatement — spectacular, awe-inspiring, magnificent, majestic, grand, top of the world and special are just a few more descriptions that come to mind. We jokingly call our Dolomites Photo Tour our most “awe-full” tour as this area leaves you quite literally full of awe at every turn of the windy alpine roads which lead us to the top of magnificent mountain passes.
And let me not forget to mention how peaceful, romantic and relaxing the Alpe is. If you are staying at one of the few delightful hotels up here, you are required to park your vehicle in the hotel’s underground parking lot for the duration of your stay. So your days are spent in an environment free of private motor vehicles. You’ll get around on foot, bicycles and ski chair lifts. There is also a limited bus service that runs every 30 minutes or so which will take you to various locations along the main road.
We catch a bus which picks us up near our hotel and takes us to the end of the line at Saltria, a 20-minutes journey. Here we take the Florian chair lift up to the top the Zallinger lodge for a very tasty lunch of local alpine specialties at this quaint 19th-century hotel and restaurant. A benefit of the various combinations of walking paths, bus service and chair lifts is that you can fine-tune your outing to match your level of physical fitness. We usually ride the chair lift up and then take a leisurely, one-hour stroll down through the alpine meadows to Saltria where we catch the bus back to our hotel.
The views from the Alpe are stunning with a 360-degree panorama featuring multiple peaks near 10,000 feet high. Two of the most prominent and photogenic peaks, the Sassolungo and Sassopiatto, are close to our hotel on the north end of the Alpe. We can stroll along the trail just outside our hotel door with our cameras searching for the perfect compositions to capture these fantastic sister peaks. The Alpe is dotted with numerous small log huts used for storage by the local farmers. They make for wonderful elements in our photographic compositions. Early morning at sunrise is a great time to be out photographing. With a little bit of luck, your composition will include morning mist, log huts, the first rays of the sun peaking over the ridge and the magnificent Sassolungo and Sassopiatto in the background.
As you know, the weather can change quickly at such high altitudes but after temporary showers, the whole plateau glistens with intensified colors and you are being rewarded with rainbows, the freshest mountain air and the most glorious clouds in a big expansive sky. Just make sure you come prepared. As Magrit’s mom used to say: “There is no bad weather, only insufficient clothing.” Wise words, indeed.
Another great element of staying on the Alpe di Siusi is the choice of excellent accommodations. Most of these boutique hotels have 4-stars, are small-to-medium-sized and multi-generational family-owned. They boast over-the-top views of the Alpe and the surrounding magnificent peaks. They often preserve the traditional alpine architectural style on the outside (or a modernized version of it) and have very modern cozy interiors. All these hotels, including the one we love to stay at with our groups, feature a fantastic chef and a restaurant serving multi-course dinners with a vast collection of Italian wines. After a wonderful day of roaming the Alpe with our cameras, it is such a treat to head back to our cozy rooms, grab a quick shower and head downstairs for one of the best meals ever. Pure luxury. The days are long in June so often we have time after dinner to head back out for a last-light photo session.
The glorious Alpe di Siusi is one of our favorite destinations in Europe. It is so beautiful, peaceful and photogenic. We spend the first two nights of our Italian Dolomites Alps Photo Tour (June 14-21, 2020) here and hope that you can join us and experience the magic for yourselve.