Cycling along the passes of Trentino-Alto Adige

 

Along the mountain passes and historic roads between Mount Mendel and the Val di Non Valley on racing bikes.

Thomas, my fiancé, reckons that there is a close connection between passion and suffering. He often repeats this during our intense conversations about our common passion: cycling. And it’s just when we’re struggling to reach the top of a mountain pass that this connection becomes most meaningful! In spite of this, at the start of each year we set about planning our cycling trips in new destinations. So, this year we decided to go to the Upper Val di Non Valley in Trentino-Alto Adige, with its numerous renowned and historic mountain passes.

Our chosen base was the Zum Hirschen Hotel, a renovated medieval hospice near the holy sanctuary in Senale. We had no idea of the sheer beauty of this remote region. To us, the Val di Non and the Upper Val di Non valleys, the Mendel and Palade mountain passes were just small letters on the map. Even after our holidays, I’m none the wiser as to the linguistic borders in this area on the frontier between German-speaking South Tyrol and Italian Trentino, but it was enjoyable anyway. I can’t forget the time when Luigi, a local Italian-speaking farmer, wryly confided: in the end, the Tyroleans and Trentini of the Val di Non Valley decided to communicate in another language that no-one understands! He was referring to “Nones”: an ancient dialect of the Ladin language spoken in this area.

Our holiday was thankfully free of road traffic and we were blessed with mild temperatures: ideal conditions for a Spring cycling holiday! The day after our arrival we started out from Appiano, along a long-stablished, panoramic route in conquest of the Mendel Pass. Built in the 1920’s the old road traced the ancient wayfarers and pilgrims route from Lana to the Palade Pass. A trade route since Roman times, the way across the Palade pass was a safe alternative to the dangerous marshlands down in the valley.

Our cycling trips took us along the nature trails with fantastic views, tranquil forests, past ancient hermitages and Romanesque churches. Back at the Zum Hirschen, we were greeted by new temptations: typical dishes from Trentino-Alto Adige creatively reinvented at the CERVO Restaurant. With enhanced flavours thanks to the farm-fresh produce and ingredients sourced from the local farms, we thoroughly enjoyed our meals which were also salubrious and gave us more energy during our rides.