Old towns, castles, apple trees, mountains and lakes – Val di Non you’re gorgeous!
What makes a travel destination truly romantic?
I bet you’ll say dramatic viewpoints, loads of flowers and fairy tale castles. Add a backdrop of mountains and scenic valleys; you’ve got yourself a winner. Oh, and of course it would be incomplete without fine wine and delectable food.
Guess what – this is exactly how I’d describe Val di Non, the Non Valley in Italy’s Trentino. This valley is in the middle of the Brenta Dolomites, the Maddalene, the Anauni, the Paganella Massif and the Andalo Saddle mountains.
If you thought Val di Non couldn’t get any better, here’s the icing on the cake. This valley is full of apple trees and the pink and white apple blossoms look AMAZING against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
When I say there are apple trees everywhere, I actually mean they are in every possible place. San and I had never seen so many apple trees in our live. With their twisted branches, these trees look like they’re right out of a bittersweet fairy tale with witches!
Val di Non also has fairy tail-ish medieval castles; old towns with narrow streets where you’d want to get lost and incredible food. Well, if you’re in Italy, you can be guaranteed unbelievably good food wherever you go and Val di Non is no exception. (By the way, Italy doesn’t have a shortage of romantic destinations. We’d love to go revisit for a road trip to Tuscany.
Val di Non Travel Video
Want to experience Val di Non through our eyes? If so, then watch the below video for a cute virtual trip where we will show you what we did while we were in Non Valley, Trentino:
If you’re looking for a new travel destination that is still under the radar, offbeat and not run by hoards of tourists with selfie sticks, then Trentino in Italy is your best bet. Do check out our article about the Alpe Cimbra area in Trentino.
Where is Val di Non?
Val di Non, is the Italian name for Non Valley, which is in North Italy’s Trentino just at the edge of the Dolomites. Right next to the Non Valley is the Sole valley and the river Noce runs between them. Together both the valleys are referred to as Noce Valleys.
How to Reach Val di Non
The best way to travel to and within Val di Non is by a rental car. You can arrive in Verona airport or Venice airport and then rent a car from there to drive to Val di Non. That’s what we did.
I have said this before and I will reiterate – traveling by train can be very expensive in Europe and in most cases a rental car turns out to be cheaper. The only time I’d suggest you not to rent a car is if you were going to a super busy city like Amsterdam or ParisCheck Car Rental Prices in Italy
If you’re looking for public transport, you can travel on the Bologna-Brennero train line. Change at the train Trento station and get on the Trento-Malé electric railway to Dermulo. Trento to Dermulo should take about 1 hour on train. From Dermulo train station; ask your hotel for the best way to reach them. Most likely they will send a shuttle. As per my research, most of the destinations can easily be reached by bus but I personally did not experience them there.
Things to do in Val di Non, Italy
Here are some of the most amazing places to visit in Val di Non with some exiting activities that you’re going to absolutely love. To make things easy for you, I have marked all these things on the map so that it is easier for you to plan your time in Val di Non.
Lago di Tovel – Visit the Glassy Lake
There is something very special about clear lakes that are surrounded by mountains. It is an added bonus if the water is extremely clear and blue. Even better is if you get to enjoy the beauty of the lake without crowds and just by yourself in peace. This is exactly how Lake Tovel is – in fact even better.
Lago di Tovel is one of the prettiest lakes that we have seen in a long time. Our pictures and words cannot do justice to the beauty but we will try our best.
The water of Lago di Tovel is so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake. It was semi frozen when we were there and the surface reflected the beauty of the snowy mountains like a mirror. In a way, it reminded me of the Chandrataal Lake in the Spiti Valley, India.
Here’s something crazy about Lago di Tovel — the water was once bloody RED. This was back in the 1960s and because of that there are many legends associated with this lake. It was red because of some particular kind of algae. INSANE, huh?
It is not very often that one can enjoy a place that is as spectacular as Lake Tovel without crowds. If you want to enjoy the serene beauty of this lake just like we did, now would be the best time to visit before it gets mainstream.
Lago di Tovel is in Tovel Valley and is a part of Adamello Brenta Natural Park. In my opinion, it is the GEM of Val di Non. The entry was free and there was a proper parking place outside.
San and I drove here from Flavon in Val Di Non. While the sunny Val di Non was covered with apple blossoms when we visited, the Tovel Valley appeared to be stark and cold in comparison, but beautiful nonetheless.
Cles – Enjoy Walking in the Scenic Old Town
Cles is the biggest town in Val di Non and it has old buildings, pretty streets and a panoramic viewpoint that overlooks the Cles Castle and Lake Santa Giustina. Even though Cles is a busy town as compared to the nearby villages, you’re surely going to enjoy the old world charm here.
Historically speaking, Cles is a significant town because this is where the Tabula Clesiana was discovered. If you haven’t heard about it, it is ok – even we had not. The Tabula Clesiana is a bronze plate dating back to 46 AD that was discovered near Cles. It was found in 1869 at Campi Neri. The Tabula Clesiana contains the decree of Caesar Claudius of 46 AD granting the Roman citizenship to the Alpine people. This plate is now in Trento’s Castello del Buonconsiglio Museum.
Walk around the Spinazeda Quarter – the most ancient quarter of Cles it will surely transport you to another era. On the other hand, as you will walk to the center of the town you will notice how new the streets are dotted with chic cafes that somehow don’t look out of place.
As you walk around the town center, you will also see the ancient building of Cles’s non-functional Rathaus – the City Hall. We were told that this building is now the venue of several art exhibitions and is no longer serving as the city hall.
If you’re making a day trip to Cles, I will make it easy for you and tell you exactly where to go. Here are some places that you should visit while you’re in Cles:
La Cucolq, the Mini Cheese Factory
Young couple Erica and Fabrizio run an adorable little cheese factory in Spinazeda Quarter, Cles’s old town. Fabrizio milks the grass fed cows and Erica makes the cheese. You can just ask anyone in Spinazeda Quarter where the Mini Cheese Factory is and they will guide you.
The interiors of the mini cheese factory are lovely and look like they’re right out of an old time movie. But hey, if you look around carefully then you will notice that quirky art pieces that are in the corridor give the timelessness away (in a good way).
Ring the bell when you’re inside and ask for Erica. Buy her special Caciotta cheese or Rabiola cheese that she makes all by herself. While you’re there, try the homemade yogurt with honey.
Cles Castle Viewpoint with Lake Santa Giustina
Cles has an amazing viewpoint and to reach here you have to walk uphill for 5 minutes from the town center. The viewpoint is actually accessible from a small public park.
When you’re here, you will see the Cles Castle of course and the man made Lake Santa Giustina next to it against the backdrop of mountains. Right in front of the Cles Castle there is an apple orchard but the trees had not begun blossoming while we were there.
Larnterna Magica – Cinema Themed Café
Did I mention how Cles’s old town is dotted with chic cafes? Well one of them is a really quirky cinema themed café called Larnterna Magica.
The food in Italy is spectacular and I’m sure you won’t stop eating pizzas and pastas while you’re here. However when the weather is sunny and you’re in a mood for a not so heavy lunch as you’re exploring Cles, a Panini in Larnterna Magica is an amazing option.
There are strange looking cinema machines from the older times in this café that are decorated at random spots. The menu also is cinema themed with things like Ace Ventura drink, Orient Espresso, Vanilla Sky coffee, and more.
I ate a vegan Panini here and San had a meat Sandwich – they were both very good.
Stop at the Apple Orchards (Frutteto Storico or Ville d’Anaunia)
No visit to Val di Non is complete without seeing the valley’s famous Apple orchards. After all, it is the specialty of the region. We did two tours of apple orchards, one was Frutteto Storico in Aperitivo and the other was on a private farm in Ville d’anaunia.
If you have ever lived in Europe, I’m sure you would have mostly eaten Melinda apples. They’re a product of Val di Non. There are around 7000 hectares of apple orchards in Val di Non that are owned by 5000 families. These are sold under Melinda co-op. We were told that during the harvesting season, most of Val di Non is working in the Orchards. Even of they don’t have their own farm but have private job instead, they get called by their cousins or uncles to help around in the farm.
Warning – if you don’t like history, then just skip to the next paragraph. Val di Non has an ancient history of apples that was documented even in the 16th and 17th centauries when they were grown in gardens. In the 18th and 19th centuries saw a large-scale cultivation and export to Germany and France. In late 19th century, apple farming in Val di Non became more organized with numerous water canals and structured methods of agriculture. In 2003, Val di Non apples were recognized as PDO apples.
I’m not sure if the above history was of an interest to you, but I must say that these apple orchards are really lovely to look at. Broadly speaking, there are two types of apple trees here – the ancient ones and the new ones. The branches of both these kind of trees are twisted and they look like a witch’s arm. In a way, the ancient apple trees look kind of psychedelic.
Some of the apple trees in Val di Non had pink flowers and the others had white ones. These looked realty interesting with a backdrop of snowy mountains. If you visit during spring, you can enjoy the beauty of apple blossoms. These apple blossoms smell mildly sweet.
San and I got to learn so much about apples that we will never look at them the same way again!
Castle Valér – Visit the Super Romantic Castle with a view
C’mon honey, buy me a castle!
Jokes apart, this castle was actually on sale back in 2016 after 650 years! This is Castle Valer – a one of a kind octagonal castle from the 13th century. It is on the foot of the Dolomites in Val di Non. The best part – during spring it is surrounded by pretty apple blossoms.
Castel Valer is in Tassullo village, which is a part of Ville d’anaunia. Ville d’anaunia is the same place that is mentioned in the previous point where I recommend you to stop to see apple orchards. San and I really enjoyed Ville d’anaunia because with Cherry Blossoms and Tulips – spring was in full swing here.
You can hike around Castle Valer to the St. Justina Hermitage. Or, you can pre book a guided tour so that you can see the castle from inside. If you’re short on time, you can just walk to the castle and admire it from outside.
Tavon (Coredo) – The Scenic Small Towns in the Mountains
Cordeo and Tavon are two nearby idyllic village in the Non Valley that are surrounded by mountains. Tavon village has a very nice view of the surrounding mountains.
Near Tavon are two man made lakes – Lake Tavon and Lake Coredo and together they are referred to as Cordeo Lakes.
While you’re here, you should surely check out the spectacular Pineta Hotel, a luxurious spa hotel that is surprisingly affordable. It is on an elevated part of Tavon, so the views from here are spectacular.
To make the most of Coredo and Tavon, you should stay in Pineta Hotel for at least one night. This way you can head out for the hike across Sfruz, Smarano, Tavon and Coredo villages and see Lake Tavon and Lake Coredo. Moreover, Pineta Hotel is the perfect spot for you to enjoy a sunset here with these adorable Alpacas. Look at these cuties! San and I thought these were Llamas.
While you’re here, make sure you try Pineta Restaurant – “Alla Pineta”, it is even older than the hotel itself and is legendary. Chef Bruno is the eldest son of the family that owns Pineta Hotel and he runs the restaurant with his wife Bianca. If you’re confused about what to eat, the staff will explain and help. I recommend you to try one of their multi course dinners.
Flavon – Old Town Surrounded by Apple Trees
While Val di Non’s main town Cles is beautiful, I’d suggest you book a place to sleep in Flavon. Flavon is not as busy as Cles and has its own quaint charm, which you can only find in smaller villages. Moreover, the hotels in Cles are expensive but not so in Flavon.
We stayed in a lovely family run inn called Agritur Residenza De Poda, which was in the middle of Flavon. Everything inside was wooden, even the decoration was wood carved. This place is also called Antica Residenza de Poda and true to its name is an antique residence.
Flavon is a very peaceful town in lower Val di Non and apple orchards on all the sides surround it. We also saw several cherry blossoms while we were here.
While you’re in Flavon, you should check out the Church of Saint John the Baptist. You should also eat the legendary pizzas of Ristorante Pizzeria Centrale. This is where I had the best pizza of my life.
Where to Stay in Val di Non – Best Hotels
For a place to sleep in Val di Non, I will give you two options – the first is where we stayed – Agritur Residenza De Poda and the second is the one that we visited – Pineta Naturamente Hotels in Tavon, Cordeo.
Agritur Residenza De Poda, Flavon
Agritur Residenza De Poda is also called antique residence, which is a family run inn in the middle of Flavon. It is colorful from the outside but as you go inside, you will notice how everything is wooden, even the decoration!
Our room was very clean, airy and spacious with all amenities. The wifi worked very well. The hotel actually is a charming old farm house that has been renovated and converted into a hotel. Antique household things are displayed at different corners and on the staircase too.
The breakfast at Agritur de Poda was pretty good but it is worth noting that the restaurant is in the hotel is not open for dinner. However there is a Ristorante Pizzeria Centrale that’s nearby and is open till 10 pm. The hostel in Agritur de Poda was very helpful and delightful to talk to.
Pineta Naturamente Hotels, Tavon
Pineta Naturamente Hotels is a spa resort that is quite affordable for what it offers. It is built on an elevated part of Tavon and as a result the views are really good.
Not only is Pineta Hotel extremely gorgeous, it also has a really good in house restaurant. This is the same hotel that we mentioned in our point about Tavon. This is where we saw Alpacas – the sama picture that you see as the cover image for this article.
Disclosure: San and I were invited to Trentino by Visit Trentino team but all silliness and thoughts expressed in this article are totally our own.
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