A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol

Copyright: IDM South Tyrol / Valentin Pardeller. The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rose garden glows impressively in the evening glow on the horizon of the regional capital of Bozen.A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol – Sudtirol.

South Tyrol (or Sudtirol) is open for visitors this summer. On June 3rd, borders will start opening for regional tourism within the EU and Schengen countries (all depending on Covid-19 cases keep on being down), so, I’ve thought I could put together a Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

A classic South Tyrolean village with the impressive Dolomites in its backdrop. Photo: © IDM Südtirol. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.
A classic South Tyrolean village with the impressive Dolomites in its backdrop. Photo: © IDM Südtirol. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

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South Tyrol is the northernmost province in Italy, bordering the Tirol and Östirol regions in Austria. Actually, it used to be part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire as part of the Tirol region (it was actually called Mittletirol). It changed hands to Italy after the defeat of the central powers on WWI in 1918.

How to get to South Tyrol

Fly to Innsbruck in Austria or Verona in Italy. If not, you have the options of Bozen/Bolzano airport, that is a smaller regional airport, or Bergamo, Venezia, Milano Linate, Milano Malpensa or Munich.

Copyright: IDM South Tyrol / Harald Wisthaler. Rowing boats at the Lago di Braies Nature Park, one of the most beautiful lakes I've seen in my life, worth a visit and a walk around the lake, which is easy for anybody! A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.
.Copyright: IDM South Tyrol / Harald Wisthaler. Rowing boats at the Lago di Braies Nature Park, one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve seen in my life, worth a visit and a walk around the lake, which is easy for anybody! A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

Driving to South Tyrol

 

Coming from Austria, just pass Innsbruck and take the Brenner Pass, and you’ll be there. From Verona, go up the Brenner Motorway (A22 Autostrada del Brennero) and drive north. South Tyrol is part of the Trentino Alto Adige province, located in the northern side (the Alto Adige side).

Copyright: IDM South Tyrol / Clemens Zahn. From St. Zyprian in Eggental there is an impressive view of the rose garden, here against a clear blue sky. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.
Copyright: IDM South Tyrol / Clemens Zahn. From St. Zyprian in Eggental there is an impressive view of the rose garden, here against a clear blue sky. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

Languages in South Tyrol

70% German, 25% Italian and 5% Ladin. The Ladin is a mountain language, what is considered a Romansh language spoken in the Dolomite valleys of Val Gardena and Alta Badia.

Photo: IDM South Tyrol / Clemens Zahn. Autumn is colorful in the Meraner Land, like here at Lebenberg Castle above Tscherms, where thanksgiving is celebrated. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.
Photo: IDM South Tyrol / Clemens Zahn. Autumn is colorful in the Meraner Land, like here at Lebenberg Castle above Tscherms, where thanksgiving is celebrated. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

What to do in South Tyrol in the Summer.

Go to the area of Kronplatz and Brunico.

 

Kronplatz is a mountain in the border of what is Dolomites and Alps. The mountain itself has a shape of a Panettone with a punch in the middle. It is a very interesting mountain, which is connected with four villages around and lifts to each one on each sides.

Kronplatz in the summer. Photo: Kronplatz. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.
Kronplatz in the summer. Photo: Kronplatz. A Must-Read Guide to Summer in South Tyrol.

Kronplatz is not only interesting for skiing in winter or hiking and mountain biking in the summerr. There is a good reason to go to the top of the mountain all year round, even if you don’t ski, ride, hike or bike! It is the only mountain, that I know of, with two really grand museums on its peak! These museums are Lumen Museum and MMM Corones.

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Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Skyway Monte Bianco viewed from Pavillion, at 2,200m - mid-station of the Skyway Monte Bianco.

Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi or Punta Helbronner- which one you should go to visit? Honestly, I would visit both and connect from one another through the Panoramic Mont Blanc Tunnel gondola.

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You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
You can tell my happiness of being on top of the world (at least European world). Here at the Aiguille du Midi. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

Aiguille du Midi (3842m) is located in Chamonix, in the border with Italy, and is one of the biggest attractions to go year-round, and lots in the summer to go and see the Mont Blanc (4810 m).

The funicular departs from a very modern lift base that has a shop, a food outlet and the big funicular that takes you to the middle station, from where you take a second funicular to the top. The top has a series of different terraces at different heights, to see 360-degree views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps in all their splendour plus the magnificent Mont Blanc. Inside the structure is a bit old and you go within a cave, taking an elevator to go up the rock. This does not take the awesomeness of the landscape… It is really worth to go up there, you do feel you are on the top of the world, even though is really the top of Europe!

The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?
The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift connects Aiguille du Midi in France, with Punta Helbronner, in Italy. Aiguille du Midi vs Punta Helbronner – which one you should do?

You can connect to go to Italy via the Panoramic Mont Blanc lift, which is a series of three gondolas (cable cars) going together on top of the Mer de Glace (the glacier sea) that zips you to Italy to Punta Helbronner (3466 m). This gondola has reopened last year after being closed for a bit due to one of the cabins falling on the glacier. I’ve written about it in this post some time ago. Still, this happened in winter, when this lift was closed, and it was due to a massive snow storm combined with really cold temperatures which froze the snow on top of the cable and its weight made it snap.

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3 Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

Helmjet Sexten. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

3 Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

3 Zinnen Helmjet Sexten – 3 Zinnen Hotels, where to stay in 3 Zinnen, 3 Zinnen Restaurants,  on-mountain restaurants in 3 Zinnen and where to eat in Sesto and the villages.

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3 Zinnen (Tre Cime) ski resort is going ahead with the plan of replacing its old 40-year-old gondola which connected the village of Sesto/Sexten with the ski mountain of Monte Elmo/Helm, with the new premium 10-seater gondola called Helmjet Sexten.

The new gondola will be a premium upgrade for the 3 Zinnen ski resort in the Dolomites, especially because longer waiting lines in the peak season can now be avoided, due to its capacity to bring around 3.000 people at the top per hour.

Drei Zinnen seen from the Drei Zinnen ski area - photo PXHere.com. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.
3 Zinnen seen from the Drei Zinnen ski area – photo PXHere.com. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

Mark Winkler, CEO of 3 Zinnen Ski Resort Dolomites said:

“Every new lift we build is special to me. But the “HELMJET SEXTEN” is a passion project: we have all been waiting for it for many years. In a way, it is the jewel in the crown of the 3 Zinnen Dolomites sports and mountain destination—the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle of investments we made over the course of the past years. We are giving our main entrance in Sesto a massive upgrade: the state-of-the-art facilities will offer our guests much greater comfort while reducing the rush and waiting times of the old system. Personally, I cannot wait to sit in the new ‘Symphony’ premium gondola for the first time and take in the views of the Sesto Sundial.” 

Completing the puzzle of the resort with Helmjet Sexten.

The Monte Elmo Sesto cable car was first built in February 1981. At the time, it was extremely modern. For nearly forty years, it carried skiers, hikers and families to the top of Monte Elmo daily, until this changed in 2020. This year the dated cable car is replaced by the new detachable premium 10-seater Helmjet Sexten cablecar lift.

Six years ago, the 3 Zinnen Dolomites ski resort (called at the time “Sesto Dolomites”) – consisted only of only 50 km of slopes on two mountains. Today, just over half a decade, the 3 Zinnen AG has turned the area into a little gem of five interconnected mountains and 115 km of slopes, with 31 modern cable cars and chairlifts serving them. On the mountain you find family-run restaurants, ski and bike rental services and the Punka Service Centre, the most advance service facilities in the Alps.

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Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Sun coming down at the Saulire. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

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Most of European ski resorts are planning to reopen with social-distancing measures this summer. Courchevel is one of them.

Right now, you can only visit if you live within 100 km away from Courchevel. Starting today, May 11th, people can visit and enjoy three sports in the great outdoors:

🎿 Ski touring: there is a lot of snow in the Saulire massif (Alt. 2710m) and the surroundings.

Rando trace and ski poles. Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Rando trace and ski poles. Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

🚴‍♂‍ Cycling: The Col de la Loze (Alt. 2304m) has been cleared of snow.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Cycling with views of the Montre Loze. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Cycling with views of the Montre Loze. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

🏃‍♂‍ Rando / Trail: the summit of the Dent du Villard (Alt: 2284m) is accessible.

Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Crete de Mont Charvet. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.
Copyright: Courchevel Tourisme. Crete de Mont Charvet. Courchevel’s plans to reopen in the summer season.

The Silva MOONtain Races are coming back to Courchevel this summer.

This famous race will return after five years of being absent. It entails an original trail, at night on full moon Wednesdays – dates are August 5, September 2 and 30).

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Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse. Unsplash.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

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Now that the weather is nicer, maybe it is time to plan your next mountain adventure. You can sit in your garden, enjoying the sunny days we are having (at least in Britain) during this Covid19 epidemic and start taking your time, as a hobby, of thinking where your next road trip will be.

For me, it will always be to a mountain, and it will mostly be by car. Unless I travel to America (both North and South), I prefer, if possible, to take the car as driving to the mountains, is part of the trip.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.
Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.

So, I always like opening some maps and guides and see what I want to do. I just measure with my fingers the driving we’ll do as a family on one day- actually, the driving my husband will do, as for me it is too traumatising to change sides of the road again. I did it once from Argentina to the UK and I still have to think each time I drive, which side of the road I have to get in, and what side of the car I have to mount to! But I am a great co-pilot, and enjoy the planning of the trip, as much as the guiding.

Here is a selection of maps, many of which I have already bought- (you cannot ever have enough maps, right?) I might not spend too much in shoes, but I do like my maps, and some travel guides as well!

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How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

Beaver Mountain. Photo by Indy Pass. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

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OK, the ski season 19-20 has been cut short, at least we have to count ourselves lucky, as we could ski in December and February as a family, and I even had a cheeky escape in January with some mum friends. We were going to go back in April, but oh well. I feel sorry for those families going only in Easter and having to miss their holiday. But with the crisis and all the people losing loved ones, having to stay at home is not so bad really.

Now, if I start thinking about next season, I don’t have to book lodging, as we have our home in the Valdigne region of the Aosta Valley. But usually by now, I would have booked my Eurotunnel ticket and my hotels on the way up in Chaumont (the Ibis Styles Chaumont Centre Gare), and the Novotel or Holiday Inn in Reims for when we come back….

Visiting the mountains is a good option if you are afraid of too many people on the lifts, there are still lots of activities to do while social distancing.
Visiting the mountains is a good option if you are afraid of too many people on the lifts, there are still lots of activities to do while social distancing. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season? Photo by The-Ski-Guru. Monte Grivola seen from Morgex, AO.

So far, I am in no hurry to do anything, we’ll have time. I do have a Eurotunnel reservation for late July and the Ibis Styles in Chaumont also for July, I’ve figured out that the way back could be in a different place needed be; and I don’t know if we in the UK are going to be allowed to be crossing the Channel by then… so it will be wait and see.

How social-distancing would work in ski resorts?

So how would ski resorts open in the winter (and summer, as they are getting ready for that now?) They are talking of a whole lot of new measures to keep their guests and employees safe.

There would be much less overcrowding for sure. And that for me would be a silver lining.

Winter walks are always lovely, and you can have the space to relax in the mountains. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?
Winter walks are always lovely, and you can have the space to relax in the mountains. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

I am the kind of person that likes skiing with no people around, I think I’ve written this before, and as I have kids in school age, we are stuck to go on holidays when everyone is going on holidays…. I remember growing up in Argentina, we could take some time off for going skiing during August, avoiding the Winter Holidays in July and not being penalised. There you get (at least when I was growing up, many moons ago), 25 days of absenteeism per year. That means, if coming late by one minute in the morning, you got half an absenteeism. If coming late by more than 5 minutes, you missed your day- you could count that everyone was in time – not sure why they don’t set this up in the UK, as I keep on seeing people coming late (including me, even I live across from the school!). Also, if then you take some holidays, that is fine, you count the days off, but, if you get ill and have to be absent and you pass the 25 days, you repeat the year …. No ifs and buts… (a well-known phrase in the UK- that I actually don’t like.)

Mt Baldy in Southern California just reopened the ski season, and they are asking guests to come at different times, and only four people can go up every 10 minutes. They only have chairlifts, so that is easier. The people are asked to go alone, unless they are in a family group.

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UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

Les Gets- Images ©Keno_Derleyn_OT_Les_Gets. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

A study of UK snowsports industry professionals conducted by Ski Press and Skipedia have revealed the damage that Covid-19 has had on their business and what they believe the future might hold for next year.

Some of the key findings concluded that:

  • 82% of companies suffered reduced sales due to the premature end to the 2019-20 season, with two-thirds experiencing lower than usual sales for winter 2020-21 so far.
  • Almost 1 in 5 have made staff redundant and a quarter are concerned they could go out of business.
  • Although almost all expect ski resorts to open next winter, over 70% expect this to be with social distancing restrictions in place.
Crans-Montana in winter - Photo: @CMTC_luciano_miglionico. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.
Crans-Montana in winter – Photo: @CMTC_luciano_miglionico. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

With the 2019-20 season cut short, the pressures on UK ski professionals started during March when all Alpine countries started closing ski resorts following the lockdown in Italy. By the middle of March, Austria, France and Switzerland had closed all of its ski resorts and holidays for the rest of the season were cancelled.

60% of winter sports businesses including tour operators and equipment retailers have now furloughed staff members. 17% of respondents have had to make redundancies too.

Whilst 64% are saying they are experiencing reduced sales for next winter, two-thirds expect that it should be ‘business as usual’ this winter, anticipating that they will be able to offer their normal services.

Continue reading “UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.”