We love the snow, the winter and, while my boyfriend likes to ski, I like to stay warm inside and enjoy a few nice days in the spa (OK, I like cross country skiing and ice skating outdoors too) so going to the mountains is so perfect for both of us.
Even though we spent three long weekends in the mountains this season already, we wanted to go one last time before the spring comes.
We thought about going to Austria again, although we’ve been there at least 2-3 times every year in the last 7 years or so and 3 times only this winter. We still love it but I was definitely up for something new this time so we booked eventually a hotel in South Tyrol in Italy.
I’ve never been to this part of Italy till now, I’ve visited Rome, Florence and Venice but I’ve never actually been in the Italian mountains.
After many months without snow in this region (and all over Europe for that matter), it had to be snow for days endlessly just before our trip. Over 2 meters of snow piled up and there was still an avalanche warning during our trip.
Needless to say that I was a little bit worried as we were driving to Italy and whether we would actually manage to get here or be stuck somewhere but it turns out that the worry was over nothing because, even though there is a lot of snow and in some places it is even higher than me, the snow melted or was cleared on the roads and we had a nice drive without any problems.
The weather during the trip was lovely, especially in the region of South Tyrol. It was so dark and cloudy during the drive but the sun was shining as soon as we got to South Tyrol. Now I almost believe the saying that this is the sunny side of the Alps because it was so nice and warm and sunny during our entire stay there.
I wasn’t sure if this region will be very Italian or if it has certain Austrian influences because it is so close to the border.
I was thinking about how my Italian knowledge has become a little bit rusty, I understand most of it but I have a little bit of trouble speaking (I used to speak pretty fluently, at least basic conversation) but the people living here apparently speak both Italian and German. Well, a certain dialect of these languages actually but I was able to understand it quite well.
All the street signs are both in German and Italian. We were greeted in German everywhere we went and we were seldom spoken to in Italian. Actually a nice Italian lady told us in the ski lift that the people of South Tyrol would rather speak in German and their Italian sounds *cough* different.
Our hotel was located in the small village Vals. I am a city girl and, although I like the quiet small mountain cities, this village was so small that, as the receptionist put it when I asked for a map, you can see one end from the other. The receptionist recommended us to drive to Brixen or even as far as to Mühlbach for shopping, as there is only a small sports store and general store in Vals. There are plenty of ski rental stores at the ski lift though.
The village, with 600 inhabitants living mainly from tourism, is surrounded by the mountains and the houses, bed & breakfast inns and hotels are typical country-style for a small mountain village, just like in Austria too. Actually if it wouldn’t have been for all those Italian license plates, I would’ve almost believed that I am in Austria.
The village of Vals has ice skating rink and cross-country skiing trails, although I couldn’t find any but perhaps I didn’t search in the right place.
Luckily we booked 3/4-board at the hotel because there are no restaurants in this village (or again, I didn’t search in the right place) and the nearest bigger town can’t be reached by foot.
We’ve been to Falkensteiner Iadera in Croatia three summers ago as the hotel opened in June and we spent a week there as the hotel was barely one month old. The Iadera is an amazing 5-star hotel with excellent service, fantastic rooms with beautiful view to the ocean, private beach, great wellness area, exquisite food and overall just amazing.
With all this in mind, we chose Falkensteinerhof in Italy for our mountain trip because, even though it was a lot more expensive that the usual bed & breakfasts, we were sure that we will get the quality that a Falkensteiner hotel is known for.
The 4-star hotel is located in the village about 1 km from the Gitschberg-Jochtal slopes and lifts. I’ve walked back from the slopes one afternoon and, although it was nice and not far at all, a part of the route just before entering the village is not so pedestrian-friendly because cars drive by so fast.
With so many rooms and guests during the winter, the underground garage and the parking lots in front of the hotel were not enough and the parking area was not completely cleared of snow so precious space where we could’ve parked was covered by snow.
The 3/4-board includes buffet breakfast with live cooking where pancakes and every possible kind of egg dishes are being freshly prepared. Lunch is served at the bar and a variety of salads and soup is offered. Dinner is the highlight of the day with a 5-course menu including various appetizers, soups, fancy-looking main dishes and delicious desserts.
The staff was super-friendly during our stay at Falkensteinerhof. They speak in German and Italian, probably English too, but what blew my mind was that some of them even spoke Hungarian and Romanian, obviously with some accent and not completely correct but I thought it was nice that they tried to learn new languages for their guests.
Non-skiers are catered for as well. The hotel organizes daily among other things guided hiking and snowshoeing. The wellness area with the swimming pool is completely empty during the day until the late afternoon when the skiers are back from the mountain. I was a bit disappointed that, although it was advertised on the website, there were no Yoga (or aerobic or Pilates or any other similar) classes.The gym was a great alternative to get a good workout, although quite small with three cardio and two weight training machines.
My biggest disappointment was the quality of the hotel Wifi, the signal was very weak (especially in our room where I had signal only at the door) and it was completely unusable during peak hours when everybody was in the hotel.
The ski region closest is the Gitschberg-Jochtal and I spent one day visiting the entire area. While I found Jochtal being too small with not so many slopes and attractions for pedestrians, I loved Gitschberg. I am not a skier but according to my boyfriend, there are a lot of blue slopes for the beginners and black slopes for advanced but only a few red slopes. This ski region is perfect for a weekend ski getaway but it could probably get a bit boring for longer trips like a week or so.
I made some pictures with my iPhone but I decided to take my Canon EOS 600D to;, I use it so seldom, although I love the camera and making pictures with it.
I currently also own a telephoto lens 55-250 mm and a fixed lens 50 mm for portrait. I used the telephoto on this trip but I definitely have an all-rounder high on my shopping list.
(Sorry for the duplicates, I will clean up the album in the next few days)