Northern Italy's famous Alta Via long-distance walking routes are spread across the Dolomites, running roughly north to south and reaching as far as the Austrian border. There are six of these routes, and they increase in difficulty: Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections and is suitable for novice alpine trekkers; AV2 is much more challenging, only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights, while AVs 3-6 have extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
AVs 1 and 2 are described in detail in this guidebook. The 120km AV1 is described over 11 day stages; AV2 covers 160km in 13 days and is more strenuous and technical. Overnight stops are at mountain huts or guesthouses. The demanding AV3-6 routes are described in outline.
Now a World Heritage Site, the Italian Dolomites make a first-rate trekking destination. There is an excellent network of paths dotted with welcoming 'rifugi' (mountain huts) in stunning locations, and efficient public transport serving key trekking points.
Written by an expert in Italian trekking, with information on the fascinating wartime history of the region, plants and wildlife and also practical considerations such as the best time to go, what to take and hut protocol, this guide offers trekkers all the information they need to enjoy the mountains to the full.
Seasons: Mid-June to late September, when the majority of the refuges are open: the peak Italian holiday season is August, especially around 15th August
Centres: Main centres for the Dolomites include Cortina, Belluno, Selva di Cadore, Arabba, La Villa, Selva, Bressanone, Dobbiaco and Canazei
Difficulty: These multi-day mountain traverses involve some scrambles and aided sections and exposure. Alta Via 1 has few exposed sections, however AV2 is considerably more challenging, and only suitable for experienced alpine trekkers with a good head for heights. AVs 3-6 are more challenging, with extended via ferrata sections and considerable exposure.
Must See: Spotting your first chamois, marmot or ibex the majestic Marmolada and Pelmo, the towering Civetta, and the Cinque Torre (now there are only four of them!) includes the little known (and little-walked) Alta Via 3, 4, 5 & 6