Winter is synonym of warm blankets and hot teas as you cosy up by the fire to read your favourite book or watch your favourite movie. In travel (and especially in Italy) it means lunches on the slopes followed by a bombardino for the extra energy kick, it means ciaspolate in the woods or après-ski sessions at sunset. Not to mention the importance of a SPA, to warm up in the sauna or heated pool of your hotel. Here is our selection of winter destinations, with our pocket guides on what to do, where to eat and where to sleep.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Veneto
WHERE TO EAT
A little bit of high mountain, a little bit of Scandinavia, San Brite is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant where they cook what nature and the alpine pastures have to offer, bringing forgotten flavours, ingredients from the forest and typical combinations back to the table. Tradition is in the ingredients and in a reinterpretation of mountain food, but without any reference to typical dishes and grandmother’s recipes. WEBSITE
Experience the warm atmosphere of a mountain house with exquisite old-world elegance and the exclusive gastronomic offerings of the Il Posticino restaurant. Here you can enjoy typical Dolomite dishes, reworked with creative flair and an international touch. WEBSITE
You can’t miss a hot chocolate at the Lovat patisserie. Located in the heart of Corso Italia, it has been one of Cortina d’Ampezzo’s historic establishments since 1928. Its mission has always been to maintain the high quality of its handmade and traditional recipes, while offering a wide choice of delicacies and treats to meet the tastes of those who visit. WEBSITE
Merano, trentino alto-adige
WHAT TO DO
If you have decided to treat yourself to the relaxation you deserve, you should pay a visit to the thermal baths of Merano, on the banks of the River Passirio. Designed by architect Matteo Thun, they feature 15 indoor and 10 outdoor pools. They are open all year round and are the perfect opportunity to balance your soul. Also, take some time to visit Trauttmandsdorff Castle, with its magnificent gardens and its entertaining little Touriseum, a museum dedicated to travellers of all ages. If you are a walker, you will love the Tappeiner Promenade, considered among the most beautiful in Europe. It is an easy 3 km route to see Merano from above and enjoy a magnificent panorama. We also recommend a visit to the Rametz Castle Wine Museum. A short distance from Merano, the medieval castle stands in a picture-postcard landscape and is surrounded by 10 hectares of vineyards. Inside the castle lives a small museum dedicated to wine that is a real gem. You can also enjoy tastings at the wine shop and restaurant in nearby Tirolo.
WHERE TO EAT
Our suggestion is to eat at the Gatto Nero, which offers typical South Tyrolean food. It is a delightful, historic and characteristic restaurant where local cuisine is served, and each dish can be paired with a different Forst beer, like the Forst Forsterbrau Merano.
Where there’s a Signorvino, there’s a good time guaranteed. Here, in this wonderful location you can choose from 1,500 exclusively Italian wine labels, accompanied by good Italian dishes. The aperitifs and accompanying delicacies are also good.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Since we want you to be at your best, here we cannot fail to mention Fragsburg Castle. It is an eagle’s nest, a real sheer castle dominating the valley with its fascinating grandeur. Surrounding it is a 50,000-square-metre flower garden. It is the smallest 5-star hotel in South Tyrol, but it defends itself very well. An unforgettable romantic address. WEBSITE
Aparthotel Kuntino Suite
Whether it is a romantic getaway, a family holiday or an adventure with friends, we suggest you book a few nights at the Aparthotel Kuntino Suites. It is located in the heart of Merano and is a refuge that combines spacious rooms, elegant design and maximum comfort. WEBSITE
If you come to Merano with the desire to relax, you can treat yourself at Terme Merano. They are open 365 days a year with 15 indoor and 10 outdoor pools, a wonderfully relaxing sauna world with a beautiful outdoor area, exclusive wellness treatments and elegantly designed relaxation rooms.
If you want to take a souvenir of the Merano region with you, you should make a stop at Runggaldier Tracht & Tradition. This shop offers the largest selection in South Tyrol in terms of variety and quality of traditional costumes and clothing made by the most prestigious companies in the sector. Among their offerings is the Dirndl, a typical Bavarian costume that is said to look great on any body shape.
For lovers of sweets, the ideal destination is 58chocolate, which offers five types of chocolates according to Renè Romen’s selection. This artist of sweetness does everything himself, starting with the cocoa beans and ending with the packaging and sale in the shop, “because,” he says, “he doesn’t want to miss out on the joy of the buyers in indulging in the precious bar”.
Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta
WHAT TO DO
Good news for ski and mountain enthusiasts: in 2023, a long-desired vision will become reality. The all-year-round connection between Zermatt and the Italian resort of Cervinia will be made possible thanks to the Matterhorn Alpine Crossing. Thus the completion of this ambitious project of the Matterhorn Glacier Ride ll, will allow the highest continuous Alpine crossing by cable car.
WHERE TO EAT
Let your palate enjoy the goodness offered by Wood, a restaurant at 2000m that has been delighting locals and outsiders since 2013. Its focus is on using local ingredients at their best without forgetting the rest of Italy, Sweden and with an exotic Asian touch. WEBSITE
In Cervinia, you will have the opportunity to taste the best recipes of typical Valdostan cuisine while gazing from the Grandes Murailles to the majestic Matterhorn reflected in the waters of the Blue Lake. You will be able to do so at the Alpage Restaurant, which offers its special menu based on typical recipes, such as fontina fondue, polenta alla valdostana and fondue bourguignonne. Each dish is prepared with care and love for tradition in a rustic setting, with attention to every detail. WEBSITE
We recommend you try the cuisine of the La Luge restaurant, which aims to honour the rich Aosta Valley tradition by bringing it closer to innovation and new gastronomic trends. To do this, they offer dishes such as polenta di Nonna Adele together with the proposals of Chef Cappato Umberto, who always tests his culinary skills and imagination, even in fish specialities. There is also an extensive wine list that accompanies all their dishes and takes you, through the sensations of the palate, into a homely atmosphere. WEBSITE
When skiing, one of the best moments is to have a rest in a warm and cosy environment. Rocce Nere is the ideal place to take a gourmet break at any time of day while admiring the most photographed mountain in the world, the Matterhorn. For lunch, the restaurant offers 3 solutions designed to satisfy everyone’s desires: a bar, a restaurant & grill and a bistrot. WEBSITE
If you are in need of warm, boozy comfort after a hard snow day, stop by L’Ymeletrob, a world created for friends and guests. In this art and music café, exceptional mojitos await you, expertly and passionately made by ‘host’ Mauro, together with animals paintings by Marie Ange-Mak (the owner).
Wine is providential, especially when the cold takes hold of the mind and heart. To invigorate yourself, you can enjoy a glass of this alcoholic nectar at the Chalet Hotel Dragon, which boasts an exceptional Italian wine cellar. Their research has led to a selection of wines suitable for every single moment of the day and every type of occasion: bubbles to celebrate, a good full-bodied wine to accompany your dinner, and perhaps a cool white for an aperitif.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Grand Hotel Cervino
One of our favourite places to stay in Cervinia the Grand Hotel Cervino, Located on the feet of the Matterhorn, or Monte Cervino. this property not only offers extraordinary views of the Matterhorn but is the ultimate location for those on a ski trip. There are 70 rooms and suites on this site, all decorated with a neutral, beige-tone colour palette. There is a gym and a Spa that houses a panoramic swimming pool, sauna, Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, ice waterfall, Himalayan Pink Salt Room and a relaxation room, as well as an extensive treatment list. You won’t have to travel far for food, as there is an in-house restaurant, bar and hey, it’s also pet friendly. Website
For lovers of intense days of skiing and for the adventurous, we recommend purchasing a ski pass that allows you to ski on both Italian and Swiss territory. The Zermatt ski pass offers up to 200 kilometres of ski slopes in the Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat and Schwarzsee-Matterhorn Glacier Paradise areas, but with the international solution, you can take advantage of an additional 160 kilometres of slopes in the Italian ski area of Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche.
Would you like to take home a gastronomic souvenir of the Aosta Valley? You’ll find your haul at Cervinia Gourmet. This shop offers typical Aosta Valley products, from cured meats (such as prosciutto crudo di Saint Marcel, motzetta and lardo d’Arnad), to cheeses (such as bleu d’Aoste, fontina Dop, tome and goat cheese to accompany sweet and sour sauces and local honeys). In addition, here you will find a vast assortment of typical wines with more than 60 labels, balsamic, blueberry and raspberry vinegars, walnut oil, Valdostan jams, fondues, chestnuts with honey and much more.
Courmayeur, Valle d’Aosta
Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia
WHERE TO EAT
Agli Amici dal 1887
For demanding palates, we recommend Agli Amici dal 1887, which boasts two Michelin stars. This restaurant is 130 years old and is a true meeting place that tells the story of the area and the five generations of the family that runs it. Today at the helm are Michela Scarello, sommelier and hostess together with her brother and chef Emanuele. Agli Amici is a place that reflects a love for art and where the cuisine thrives on influences and contaminations that make it a true cultural container. WEBSITE
If you are looking for an authentic trattoria, Alla Vedova is for you. It is the oldest trattoria in Udine, remaining with the same architectural structure since the beginning of the 20th century. It offers typical local cuisine and, above all, grilled meats are roasted in the dining room in the typical Friulian ‘fogolar’. The bulk wines are carefully selected from local wineries and the oil is home-produced from the family’s olive groves in Campeglio. WEBSITE
Not sure whether you are in the mood for a fine dinner, a quick snack or an aperitif? Enoteca Fred is still the right choice. It is a cosy and unique venue with innovative, informal furnishings reminiscent of New York spaces. In addition, the wine selection is among hundreds of labels. WEBSITE
WHERE TO SLEEP
Luxury Suite MercatoVecchio
Spend your nights at the Luxury Suite Mercatovecchio. The Palace is historic, but the rooms are modern and designer. It is located in the most beautiful street in the historic centre of Udine, the street of ‘struscio’ and the most elegant shops. WEBSITE
If you want to enjoy one of the pearls of the Udine area, you have to go to Borgo Nonino. It is a restored farmhouse belonging to the Nonino family, distillers since 1897. Here you can visit their showroom, see the 6 old stills, admire the 5 sealed ageing cellars and enjoy the tasting rooms. In addition to the factory, Borgo Nonino is the place of hospitality: it offers the possibility to stay for the nights in spaces cared for by mother Giannola. The rooms are wide and have designer chairs, tables and lamps, spacious bathrooms and views of the garden or the small village of Percoto. Everywhere modern furnishings, vintage chandeliers, raw linen curtains and carpets have been added to warm the atmosphere, everywhere homely and refined.
For the best prosciutto in the area, try Prosciuttificio Prolongo. Here the Prolongo family offers one of the best San Daniele hams in the area. For those who have never tried it, it is difficult to imagine its aroma, the taste you get from the first bite and the attraction that is created from slice to slice. Every time they see a first tasting, they observe the pleasant amazement on people’s faces, who did not expect such a special and intense taste.