A total outdoor body workout in the Dolomites, Italy

Alpe di Siusi
Cross country ski instructor Christa, Alpe di Siusi, Italy. Photo © Linda van de Pavoordt.

Italian cross country instructor Christa (see picture) didn’t mind posing for our camera after we had a succo di sambuco (elderflower lemonade) together on a relaxed winter morning in the Italian Dolomites. Cross country skiing is one of the OTHER outdoorsy things to do (besides the obvious skiing and snowboarding) in the Italian Dolomites. Did you always think it’s boring? Well, think again! It’s actually a very nice way to spend a day in the mountains. As Christa told us: “A lot of younger people do it nowadays. Cross country skiing is a very good workout and much more fun than the gym. I actually prefer it to the gym if the weather is nice. An hour cross country targets the legs, arms and core and burns off a lot of calories.” Say again? We’re coming with you, wait for us Christa!

Cross country skiing: how it made us feel

Christa gave us our pairs of ski’s and started off with a few balancing exercises. Easy! After some practicing, she trusted us enough to follow her in her tracks. Hmmmm… not so easy! Unlike downhill skiing, the heel comes up from the ski and then there is a certain kind of rhythm you have to get into. To make it more complicated: we were going uphill for the first part. Not very much, in fact not even noticeable for onlookers, we are sad to say. But here we were, unnoticeably but undoubtedly going up, sweating it. After a while we got the hang of it, which gave us time to look around to enjoy the views – and it must be said: it felt good. Very good. Being really active in the snow, legs and arms moving, heart pumping, surrounded by these magnificent mountains, breathing in the fresh mountain air: it all felt really…. Healthy, is the word I was looking for. Healthy and invigorating.

For foodies: a Michelinstar chef goes back to his roots

Alpe di Siusi lies on 1900 meters in the Italian region Süd-Tirol, close to the Austrian border. Nearly all locals are bilingual, speaking Italian as well as German. Places often have two names: Alpe di Siusi is also know in German as Seiser Alm, and Süd-Tirol is also known by its Italian name Alto Adige. Confused? Let’s go to Gostner Swaige Hütte in Alpe di Siusi, where owner and chef Franz Mulser showed us the advantage of the whole Austrian/Italian mixture of Süd-Tirol. Mr. Mulser worked as a top chef cook in various Michelin start restaurants in München, until he decided to go back to basics. He moved back to Süd-Tirol where he was born, bought a mountain cabin and started cooking away. Simple, healthy, pure mountain dishes with a creative twist.

No complicated Michelin-star stuff, but honest food with local ingredients and Italian flair. His Hay Soup – a creamy truffle soup with alpine herbs which Mr. Mulser picks himself in summer – is well known in the area and far beyond. Mr. Mulser (dressed in a traditional checkered shirt, suspenders and Tirolian hat – not everybody can pull that off, but he can) served the soup himself and was nice enough to let us take a picture of him with his creation. ANd we got got to taste it of course: a divine creamy soup in a bowl made of fresh bread, a well-deserved meal after a morning of cross country skiing.

 

Monique tries cross country skiing.

Monique goes cross country skiing in Alpe di Siusi.

 

Left to right: a horse sledge with Haflinger horses brought us to the Gostner Swaige Hütte, the famous Hay Soup and chef Franz Mulser (click for full photo). 

How to get to Alpe di Siusi

The closest airports are Innsbruck (Austria) and Verona (Italy), both 1,5 hours by car. München (Germany) and Milano Bergamo (Italy) are a three hours drive.

Cross country skiing

Rent gear at Compatsch/Compaccio, the largest settlement in Alpe di Siusi. We took the skibus to Saltria, a good starting point for cross country skiing. www.alpedisiusi.com

Where to eat

  • After a morning of cross country skiing in Saltria, Ritsch Hut is a great place to have a Succo di Sambucco (elderflower lemonade) and a Ritsch Brettle, a wooden plateau with local cured meat and goat’s cheese. The terrace at the back of the hut, with deck chairs and wooden tables and benches is sunny. Saltria 16, Alpe di Siusi. www.ritsch.it
  • A must do for every foodie while in Alpe di Siusi: have lunch or dinner in Franz Mulser’s Gostner Swaige Hütte (see text). In winter it’s only accessible by 4-wheeldrive, hiking, skiing or… horse sledge. Make sure to make reservations if you want to dine (and take a flashlight for the hike back down, if you are doing so). Saltriastrasse 4, Seiser Alm. Tel. 0034 7 836 8154.

More information: www.sudtirol.com

© Text and photography by Linda van de Pavoordt. Styling by Monique Kolmeijer. With special thanks to locals Christa and Deborah and to South Tyrol. Published February 26th, 2016.

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