The Italian Alps, which includes the Dolomites in the northeast, offer fantastic snow sports in the winter, but in the summer the weather is moderate and pleasant with temperatures rarely going above 80 degrees allowing for plenty of new experiences to enjoy.
For example, 30 minutes from Trento in the Dolomites is the Acropark adventure park, which offers trails for active aerial exploration of nature. This sport is popular in Europe and is available in the U.S., although not widely known.
You are outfitted with a harness and can try trails of various difficulties where you actually climb, walk and zipline on rope or steel cable lines and bridges through scenic wooded areas. There are different levels of difficulty so that children can also participate.
The Alps in the northwest, known as Valle d’Aosta, and the Dolomites have panoramic views of the mountains that you will never forget. Gran Paradiso National Park in the west offers hiking and mountain biking overlooking green valleys, a way to enjoy local flora and fauna. Rock climbing is also popular.
Its small hamlets and rolling valleys are reminiscent of scenes from the Sound of Music.
In the Valle d'Aosta is the ancient Roman city of Aosta, with castles, fortified houses and towers from the Middle Ages. Many of these buildings have been turned into museums, such as the Gamba Castle, which holds more than 100 works of modern and figurative art, including those of local artists. It's surrounded by a huge English style park, with 150 types of trees, including a giant California sequoia that stands more than 40 yards high.
If you are staying near Venice you will be closer to the Dolomites, which border Austria; the Alps are closer to Milan and Torino near the French and Swiss borders. You'll want to arrange for transportation to either because public transit is not that convenient in these sparsely populated villages.
The Dolomites have a charming Tyrolian-influenced culture all on its own, with the town of Moena called the "Fairytale of the Dolomites”and the "Alpine Pearl." Folk and jazz music, festivals, village fairs, culinary events and activities for children and adults continue into the fall.
Known as Ladins, the residents speak Ladin, a romance language of northern Italy, and they retain many elements of traditional culture and food. The Ladin cuisine includes local delicacies such as canederli (dumplings) and apple strudel. Many dishes include "speck," similar to prosciutto, game meat such as deer, chestnuts and local berries.
You are sure to enjoy your alpine adventures!