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Themes:     Nature & Environment (51)  
Tags:    Alta Badia     Costa Family     South Tyrol
Hannes Jaenicke Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Hannes Jaenicke: My Alta Badia

Summer, and I was but 15... that's how many a love story starts, and this is no different. At the time a woman was not the object of my affections, rather a spectacular mountain landscape: Alta Badia in the Dolomites. A family summer vacation in 1975 became a joyful, long-term relationship.
Hannes Jaenicke: My Alta Badia
‘Rugged rocky formations, jutting out of the earth like cathedrals, peaks, towers and majestic summits which light up in yellow and red hues awash with the setting sun.’
At least once every year, I visit this valley in the Ladin area of South Tyrol for a couple days. I am an enthusiastic skier, so winter is when I come here the most, although early spring and late summer also have their highlights. Personally, I find the tourist season too overcrowded. However, I must admit that Alta Badia has taken a moderate and healthy course by choosing not to let nature be fully monopolised by mass tourism. Valley dwellers love their home, Alta Badia, and have not allowed nature to be sold out for some quick buck.
There are six towns in Alta Badia, also known as Gadertal, Corvara and La Villa being the most well-known. Alta Badia offers spectacular and riveting mountain landscapes which you'll be hard to find anywhere else in the world, regardless of how well travelled you are. Rugged rocky formations, jutting out of the earth like cathedrals, peaks, towers and majestic summits which light up in yellow and red hues awash with the setting sun. This spectacle has the dainty name of Enrosadira in the Ladin language- which, incidentally, is still the main language spoken in Alta Badia. Alpenglow is certainly the real thing and not a figment of any TV show creation! To nobody's surprise, the Dolomites have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for some years now.
What makes Alta Badia so unique is a mix of Italian simplicity and uncomplicated mountain lifestyle. This combination is sublime also in the kitchen. The sheer number of restaurants is impressive. Pasta, fish and seafood are of course to be seen on the menu just as much as hearty Schlutzkrapfen, spinach dumplings and barley soup. Even vegetarians get their money's worth. And, in the end, it is indeed really good value for money. Which mountain hut in Austria or Germany serves you a plate of pasta for eight euro? Even in the remotest of huts the cuisine is top quality. The Aprés-ski life in Alta Badia is jolly, but never exaggerates, and you never see scenes reminiscent of those common hangover days in the Canary Isles.
Over the years I have met and come to appreciate many people in this region. Norbert Niederkofer, one of the best cooks in Italy, was one of my acquaintances. A dinner at the Rosa Alpina Hotel in San Cassiano is always a delight. I visit the owners of the family-run La Majun Hotel in La Villa quite regularly. And besides food and wine, activities of a social and environmental nature tie me to the Costa Family, owners of the La Perla Hotel. The Costa Family Foundation supports great relief projects in Tibet and Uganda, moreover hotelier Michil Costa really thinks out of the box when it comes to sustainable and environmental awareness and possesses a deep insight into tourism,.
All these people have made Alta Badia and made it a special place, where, since my teenage years, I have always felt at home.

Hannes Jaenicke
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