The way up isn’t that treacherous as mountain roads go, at least it isn’t in glorious Autumn sunshine – it’s just jaw-droppingly beautiful instead. A treat for the eyes as we covered roads that slowly unravelled upwards – spotting small villages perched precariously on the mountainside, admiring alpine forests in their final autumnal throes, and listening to the constant in-car soundtrack of “wows”, and “look at thats” as the peaks of the Dolomites we headed towards seemed to grow larger still (if you happen to enjoy driving on the twists and turns of roads like these, there are a couple of hair-pins to enjoy rather than endure as we did on the Splugen Pass a couple of years ago, but thankfully somewhat relaxed in comparison)!
The sign that greeted our party as we reached our destination welcomed us to the “Magnificent Community of Folgaria” – quite a claim for a place with a population of less than 3,500 people. Granted it was proclaimed as such hundreds of years ago by the Bishop of Trento (Folgaria is a province of Trentino), but having spent a couple of days there recently as guests of the Alpen Eghel Hotel, it’s a claim I think it still lives up to.
The Alpen Eghel is essentially an alpine resort, and makes a great base to explore the surrounding area. In summer there’s plenty on offer including mountain biking, hiking, horse-riding, or simply just stuffing your face with amazing Italian food (and there’s plenty to be had – more on that soon!) whilst gazing out upon stunning scenery (the Dolomites are of UNESCO World Heritage status by the way should you need any more encouragement!). And, in the Winter (as you might expect for such terrain), there’s some fantastic skiing on your doorstep with the closest ski lift just up the road (Folgaria together with nearby Luserne and Laverone make up the Skitour Dei Fortei in which there’s some 70km of skiing to be had. It’s particularly family friendly with good nursery slopes and free ski passes for those under 8!).
I should imagine that the Alpen Eghel is a welcome place to return to after a hard day on the slopes. I have to imagine, as unlike the rest of my family, I am not a huge skiier, and anyway there wasn’t much snow when we visited (but I am sure we will be back!). I guarantee that the hotel’s Wellness Centre would make short shrift of any aching muscles you might have too. And afterwards if you feel like a spot of pampering, there’s a beautician on hand should you need one! You will be pleased to hear that the Small People gave the beautifully warm outdoor pool top marks, and we sat at the water’s edge and soaked up warm sunshine whilst they conducted their research (which was rather surreal given that it was almost November)!
Rooms here are quiet and comfortable and all tastefully decorated in minimalist Italian style. I really liked that despite its size, the Hotel has plenty of small hotel charm. Staff are friendly and welcoming, and full of thoughtful ideas such as squares of dark chocolate served with very decent red wine in the bar, hot chocolate you could stand your spoon up in for the Small People (who also enjoyed a great Halloween party put on for guests and locals alike. Community is a huge deal here, and I can think of lots of places that could learn a few lessons from Folgaria in this regard), and countless good recommendations on what to see, and where to eat… All making for a really lovely stay in a place I would recommend (the breakfasts are good here too by the way!).
As for exploring the heart of Folgaria itself, venture the few hundred metres walk from the hotel, and you will be totally captivated. It has a rich history as you might imagine for somewhere that used to be part of Austria once upon a time.
There are plenty of reminders of this too with the style of buildings, flower laden balconies, and traditional dress not dissimilar to the one worn here, so you are not going to miss out on that true alpine resort feel. This place just comes with the added bonus of Italian traditions, fantastic hospitality and of course the incredible incredible food. A Magnificent Community indeed….
We were given complimentary accommodation for two nights, including breakfast. All thoughts and opinions however, are of course my own, as per usual!