A ski town in winter and hiking destination in summer, San Martino di Castrozza is a classic spot for exploring the Trentino Dolomites!
There are thousands of towns in the Dolomites, each offering their own flavor of alpine life. Because each region offers something unique, I’m trying to experience as many regions as I can!
This isn’t my first time in the Trentino Dolomites: I’ve visited Bolzano before and plan to go back for the Christmas markets!
This round, we spent a fall weekend in San Martino di Castrozza, a small resort town nestled in the heart of the Trentino Dolomites.
San Martino di Castrozza
San Martino has all the charm you can dream up for a cute Italian mountain town. Even in it’s quiet state, that combination of Italian and Austrian influences that’s so quintessential to this part of the world is lovely and comforting. It’s the type of place you want to hole up in front of a fire after a day outside, watching the snow fall outside your window.
The town is a popular enough destination that there are a TON of hotels in the area, ranging from economic places to sleep between ski runs and luxurious alpine chalets. San Martino is large enough to provide plenty of options but small enough to walk the entire town easily. There are something like 30+ restaurants and several tour companies offering ski rentals and pickup/dropoff services, giving you flexibility to do whatever suits.
Because I won’t recommend things unless I genuinely like them, I want to be up front about one thing here: we had a strange time. We headed up to San Martino in early October, and the town was empty. Not just empty of tourists: empty.
The reason: it’s a ski town in winter and hiking town in summer. When Italians want to hike during their August feria (vacation), San Martino is a popular location. So the town takes their vacation in October!
We still had a great time exploring the town and hiking nearby. But in the spirit of giving you a real picture of our experience, it’s worth acknowledging that we went at a strange time. So I don’t have any shops or companies to recommend.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t have a ton of fun! I would definitely recommend the area both for hiking and for a relaxing Dolomites getaway. Here’s what you should know when you plan your trip to San Martino!
Any photo of the area will show how great this area is for hiking. One area crisscrossed with great trails is along the Passo Rolle, one of the passes across the Dolomite Alps.
We opted to drive about ten minutes out of town along the pass, pull over by a trailhead, and explore! This kind of trail is great for a group because there are so many gorgeous views that you can soak in some serious mountain views even if you only go 20 minutes in. But since so many trails connect, you can find plenty of options for proper multi-day trekking if that’s more your speed.
When hiking in the Dolomites in general, it’s always good to stop by the local tourism office before – they’ll have better maps and ideas for lengths than anything you can find online in English. We use an app called Wikiloc and love it for it’s tracking feature (letting you know if you’ve left the trail), but some of the trails are a bit more “homemade” than following an actual trail, if you know what I mean. 😉 So we use it along with trail labels and blazes.
Col Verde & Rosetta Funivia
One way to experience the epic views of the Trentino Dolomites without an all-day incline-intense hike is to take the funivia, or ski lift, up the mountain! San Martino has several, but the best views are at the top of Rosetta.
To get to the top, you need to go up the Col Verde funivia first and transfer. Don’t stop to eat in the Col Verde restaurant, there’s a way better option at the top! Dogs are permitted on the lifts, but you must buy a ticket for them.
The top of Rosetta can look drastically different by season. In summer, it’s stark, rocky, and otherworldly – flat enough to walk, but without a plant in sight.
In early October, the area already had snow up to my knees in places! So dressing for the weather is crucial here, even if it’s 40-50°F at the base of the funivia.
There’s a rifugio by the same name near the funivia. Hilariously, it looks like a small cabin that’s a 5-minute walk away. In reality, it’s a large b&b style rifugio with a restaurant that takes 20-30 minutes to get to, depending on how packed down the snow on the trail has been.
It’s gorgeous up here. If you only do one thing in San Martino, take the funivia up. The photos don’t do justice to the scale of the mountains – these images over acres and acres of snow and rock. The epic beauty is incredible in the purest sense of the word. I don’t know if I’d have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. If you only do one thing in San Martino, take the Rosetta funivia.
In summer and winter, I’d love to stay in San Martino di Castrozza again! In fall, plan to stay in Fiera di Primiero, the town about 20 minutes down the mountain. It was picturesque and still lively during the season San Martino was so quiet and popular among Italians as a Trentino Dolomites destination. So consider staying there and heading up the mountain to San Martino for hiking and exploring for fall trips.
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