Italy may be small in size but it is one of the most visited countries in the world. In fact, in 2017, Italy was the 5th most visited country, right behind the geographical giants – China and USA.
Where do most of these people go?
Mostly Rome, Venice, Florence or the Amalfi Coast.
When it comes to the north, most of the travelers go as far as Lake Grada, leaving the province of Trentino relatively unexplored. A little drive away from the famous Lake Grada lies a comparatively unexplored territory – Alpe Cimbra in Trentino.
If you’re a sucker for cozy offbeat destinations that aren’t yet crowded, overly expensive and are off the grid, then Trentino in Italy is the place for you.
Alpe Cimbra is a paradise for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiast or even small families that are introducing lightweight hiking to their little children. It is a perfect hiking destination with many amazing trails where one can find hidden waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints, freshwater springs, art installations and also fairy tale castles. You can even see the majestic Dolomites!
It is worth noting that Alpe Cimbra is gradually emerging as a preferred mountain biking destination because it offers easily accessible biking paths through the alpine forests and meadows with spectacular viewpoints.
Alpe Cimbra Travel Video
If you want a quick glimpse of the awesomeness of this part of Italy, then watch this video. We have not muted the sounds of nature while editing this video so make sure you put the sound on before watching it. Enjoy
Where is Alpe Cimbra
Alpe Cimbra is a mountainous area in northern Italy‘s Trentino province. It is on the edge of the Dolomites, which are a part of the Alps. Trentino is also called “the sunny side of the Alps”.
Alpe Cimbra comprises of many small villages and is an amalgamation of Folgaria, Lavarone, and Lusérn (a.k.a. Luserna). Off late, it is an emerging skiing and mountain biking destination.
Oddly enough, many locals in Alpe Cimbra speak German fluently because of in the ancient times’ many people of Bavaria moved here. Also, I have been told that the local language Cimbran is closer to German than it is to Italian. But hey, it doesn’t make Alpe Cimbra any less Italian than the rest of Italy.
How to Reach Alpe Cimbra
The easiest way to reach Alpe Cimbra is to fly to one of the nearby airports and from there, rent a car and drive. You can land in Verona, Venice or even Milan – out of these three Verona is the closest and Milan is the farthest.
San and I landed at Venice (Marco Polo) airport and directly at the airport we picked up our rental car and arrived in Lavarone (part of Alpe Cimbra) after 2.5 hours after crossing Trento city.
Alternatively, you can also reach Trento by bus line 315. You can break up this journey by catching a train on the Valsugana Line till Trento / Rovereto. But hey, renting a car in Europe can be at times more affordable than the local transport.
San and I wanted to spend a few hours in Venice on our way out of Italy because we were flying out from here. However, after getting spoilt in Trentino’s nature, we couldn’t get ourselves to face the crowds of Venice.
Now that you have some basic information about Alpe Cimbra, San and I would like to suggest a few places that you can see while you’re here.
1) Hofentol Waterfall & Rosspach Valley Hiking Trail
Hiking through Rosspach Valley in Alpe Cimbra was the highlight of our trip because of the rewarding views. This trail goes along the Rio Cavallo River that has extremely clear water. This trail is also called Dal Castello All Montagna, which means “From the Castle to the Mountain“.
This trail had two big waterfalls and two other smaller ones. One of the big waterfalls is called Hofentol Waterfall but I’m sorry I can’t share the name of the second one because I don’t know and it was not marked. The locals also said that it doesn’t have a name, so we jokingly called it the “no-name” waterfall.
As mentioned before, this trail goes along the Rio Cavallo river and at one point we also went off the normal hiking trail and went inside the water to see the beauty of the canyon. We had to go in without our shoes and with pants hiked up to our knees. The water was freezing cold but the beauty of the canyon was the reward of bearing the cold.
There is something really magical about narrow river canyons because the sunlight gets partially filtered out. Walking here was very cold and not everyone in our group went very far but the natural beauty here was breathtaking. Eventually San was the only one who walked till the end and saw this lovely waterfall. I had a camera which I was scared to drop but San had the super-tiny GoPro. Here’s what he saw at the end of the canyon.
Hofentol Waterfall and the river canyon are not very far from the painted village Guardia, which is a lovely stop on this trail. For more information about Guardia, please refer to the next point.
Waterfalls, river canyon, and a painted village are not all; Rosspach valley gets even better because there is an ancient castle that you can see at one end of the trail. It is called Castle Beseno and it is on top of a hill.
We could see the majestic Castle Beseno in the distance towards the end of our hike and it looked even lovelier as we got closer. The earliest written documents that mention this castle date back to the 12th century. Some sources say that it is Trentino’s largest fortress. We did not go inside the castle but you should if you have time. You will find more information about Castle Beseno here.
We hiked for total 16 KMs but it actually felt like nothing because we hiked downhill. It was just like a walk in a park. We started from a point that was near Folgaria and ended in a village near Castle Beseno.
2) Piccoli Village (Piccoli-Lavarone)
Piccoli was the first place that we visited in Trentino and it was absolutely delightful because everything was very green here. Oh and this village is super tiny!
Piccoli-Lavarone is an adorable little village where only 3 lucky families live. It is so off the grid, that we couldn’t even find it on Google. Seriously, if you search for ‘piccoli”, Google will automatically change it to “Piccolo’ and start showing you pizza outlets.
There is a church at the beginning of the village that is dedicated to Madonna di La Salette. The church is called La Chiesetta di Piccoli.
As soon as we arrived here, San and I meditated at this spot with a Reiki practitioner and breathed in the rejuvenating energy from nature.
For us, it was the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Piccoli and it made us forget how tired we were after traveling.
3) The Breath of the Trees (Il Respiro Degli Alberi)
Il Respiro Degli Alberi is a unique hiking trail that starts from Lanzino in Lavarone. On this trail you can see art installations and wooden sculptures along the way. San and I have hiked a lot but have never seen a trail like this.
All the art installations on this trail utilize the natural beauty of the surroundings and trees. These installations signify the importance of trees as an element of life.
Many plants and herbs were marked on the Il Respiro Degli Alberi trail with signboards. There were also little boards in several places with quotes about forests. We saw cumin plan, juniper and many others that we don’t remember. We do however remember an interesting flower called “headache flower” which causes headaches to those who sniff it.
If you’re a sucker for viewpoints, this trail will give you a lot of opportunities to see the Dolomites and the majestic mountain – ll Becco di Filadonna of the Dolomites. You will also see Lake Caldonazzo, the Sugana valley a.k.a. Valsugana, and La Vigolan Mountain.
This is an easy trail that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. If you’re planning on introducing your children to the joys of hiking, then this trail in Alpe Caimbra is just perfect for it. We also saw some beautiful fresh water springs where we filled up your bottles.
There are different route variations that you can do here, and ours was for 4-5 km and it did not take us more than 2 hours.
Folgaria is the biggest village in Alpe Cimbra and it is adorably charming. It is worth noting that Folgaria is one of the oldest communities in Trentino and Bavarian settlers came here in the early 13th century.
Alpe Cimbra is surely a paradise for nature lovers but we highly recommend you take out a little time to walk around on Folgaria’s colorful streets. There is a pedestrian boulevard that is lined with shops, chic cafes, bars and restaurants.
The houses in Folgaria are painted in soothing pastel colors but the windows and doors are brightly colored in mostly reds or green. If you visit Folgaria in spring, you will see flowers on the windows and literally everywhere. Mountains surround this village and you will surely find some nice viewpoints. There is a freshwater fountain at the edge of a little hill. Overall, this village is visually striking.
While you’re in Folgaria, be sure to buy the locally produced food products: cheese – Vèzzena del Trentino, Asiago cheese, and Miele di Bosco (forest honey) Marigo museo del Miele Lavarone. We also tried a locally brewed beer that San loved.
5) Guardia Village
If you do the Rosspach valley hiking trail, you will most likely cross Guardia village but in our opinion, it deserves a special mention. Guardia is also called the il paese dipinto, which means “the painted country”.
What makes Guardia really special is that all the houses here are covered with art. No, this is not Berlin kind of wall art but highly intricate wall paintings that depict the local culture, traditions, and customs. Yes, it is truly a “one of a kind” village.
If you’re wondering why all the houses in Guardia covered in art, it is because this village has hosted many art exhibitions since 1988. It is also home to the artist and sculptor – Cirillo Grott. Guardia is under Mount Finonchio and the painted houses here look beautiful against the backdrop of mountains.
The Hofentol Waterfall that I mentioned in my point about the Rosspach valley-hiking trail is just 15 minutes away from Guardia. Also, the name “Guardia” comes from the fact this village was the guard post for Castel Baseno. Yes, the same castle that you can see at the end of Rosspach valley hike.
6) Lake Lavarone and Around (Lago di Lavarone)
Lago di Lavarone is in Trentino’s Lavarone’s Chiesa locality. It is a natural lake that is surrounded by forests but is very easily accessible because there is a main road that’s next to it.
Lake Lavarone has two beaches where you can enjoy the sun during summer. You can also swim in this lake – in fact, it has been awarded the European Blue Flag status. In winter this lake is a popular spot for ice-skating when the water freezes.
In August, there is a firework show that is organized near the lake, it is called Lo Specchio Delle Stele. The spectacle of the fireworks gets reflected in the water, because of which, it is also called the mirror of the stars. After that, there are parties on the lake beaches with music.
During our time in Alpe CImbra, we stayed at a lovely family run inn called Nido Verde, which was very close to the lake.
Where to stay in Alpe Cimbra
Alpe Cimbra has its fair share of high-end hotels but we highly recommend you stay in a family run inn to immerse yourself a little further in the way of life. Don’t be worried about the language barrier because most of the inn owners here can speak basic English and are extremely friendly. Apart from Italian, most of the locals are fluent in German too.
We stayed at a lovely family run inn called Nido Verde, which was very close to the Lavarone Lake. Our room was charming and had a little balcony from where we could admire the view. Our room was mostly done in wood, which resulted in a very cozy vibe.
Our favorite thing about Nido Verde was the restaurant. The owner was pretty friendly and came to our table a few times to tell us about the dishes so that we could decide what to eat.
Overall, we had an incredible stay here and we highly recommend this hotel to all our readers. It is definitely budget friendly.
If you’re looking for information about what to pack for Italy, then check this page.
Disclosure: San and I were invited to Trentino by Visit Trentino team but all thoughts and silliness expressed in this article are totally our own.
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Have you been to this part of Italy? We’d love to know about your experience. Comment below and let us know.