I'm interested in hiking the Northern Dolomites next September. I traveled to this area before: flew into Milan and rented a car. I do not want to rent a car again ( due to mysterious traffic tickets showng up months later!!), so I am requesting information on what city would be best to fly into and what kind of train/bus connections would get me to Ortisei. Or is there some other town that would make a good "base camp?" I want to do a multi-day hike and stay in refugios as well as stay in a cute village where there are great day hikes around.
Hi Karen-it is a great area for hiking. We ae going back for the third time this September. Ortisei would make a great base, or you could try a smaller village (Santa Cristina), or stay up on Alpe di Siusi. That is actually the starting point for a nice 3-day 2-night walk, up to Rifugio Blozano and then on to the next (whose name I forget but it is easy to see on a map). You could also bas in the next valley over, Val Badia, in Colfosco, but it is a bit harder to get to. Another good multi-day hike is the circuit around Sasso Lungo and Sasso Piatto. There are several rifugios to choose from on this circuit. You can reach one starting point by cablecar from Ortisei, or by bus to Saltria from Compatsch up on alpe di Siusi. AS far as flying, the closest airport is Verona. The train line goes directly from there up to Bolzano, where you catch the bus to Castelrotto and on to Ortisei (or to Siusi for the cablecar up to Alpe di Siusi). I know British Airways flies into Verona; I am sure there are others. If Verona doesn't work, you could fly into Venice or Milan, and take the train from any of these to to Verona and up to Bolzano. Or fly into Munich and take the train south to bolzano (May be a change at Innsbruck). I have in the past looked into flights into Innsbruck, but they seem to be more in the winter. But maybe that was just British Airways.
I symphatize with you for the mysterious fines, but a rental car would be useful to visit the Dolomites. Val Gardena, Val Di Fiemme, Val di FAssa are all good valleys. The closest airports are Verona, Venice, Milano (in order of distance). Verona is well served by Lufthansa. Venezia and Milano are well served by everybody. If you want to minimize the rental car for fear of fines, you could travel by train to Bolzano and rent from there. There are several car rental offices in Bolzano (all the major ones) and Maggiore has an office near the station.
Thanks for your information. Here's another question: do you use trail maps, guide books, or rely on the local signage? Recommendations?
I use a combination of resources for hiking. There are many good hiling guidebooks on Amazon.com so get one or two for research before you go. Highlight the walks that interest you. Then when you are in-country, consult with the locals. Signage is good in the Alpi di Siusi.
"Thanks for your information. Here's another question: do you use trail maps, guide books, or rely on the local signage?" I can't comment on the Dolomites specifically because I haven't hiked there, but I have hiked extensively in the Bavaria, Austrian, Swiss and Ortler (near the Dolomites in Italy) Alps. l use various combinations of the above. I consult a hiking guidebook to select a route, because they usually provide information on the estimated duration and the grades of the inclines. I have generally found most major trails well enough marked that you don't really need a map. However, I still like to have a topographical map of my hiking route because they provide information on the names of nearby peaks, towns, the locations of moutain restaurants, lifts, springs, waterfalls, etc. None of this information is usually vital to the hike, but it's nice to know the details when curiosity strikes.