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Alpe Cimbra - Folgaria and surroundings: the region and the localities
The Alpe Cimbra (Cimbrian Alps) is a mountain range of south-eastern Trentino, approximately 100 sq km in area, with summits generally reaching altitudes of
1,000 to 2,000 metres. It lies in the territory of the communities of Folgaria, Lavarone and Luserna (jointly known locally as the Magnifica Comunità degli
Altipiani Cimbri), a landscape of meadows, pastures and woodland dotted by various peaks, the highest of which is the Becco di Filadonna, at 2,150 metres.
The term "Alpe Cimbra" was coined by the Tourist Board to represent the distinctive culture and history of these three communities. The cultural and historical identity of the Alpe Cimbra is rooted in the traditions of the Cimbri people, a linguistic and ethnic minority of Germanic origin that still survives in the mountain zone between the provinces of Trento, Vicenza, Verona and Treviso. The local language of Luserna, for example, is of ancient Germanic origin and is recognised and protected by provincial legislation.
The entire zone gained strategic importance during the First Wold War when the Austro-Hungarian army constructed a vast defensive system of forts and trenches within it.
The presence of nearby modern ski areas and a wide range of natural and cultural attractions mean that Folgaria, Lavarone and Luserna have become popular holiday destinations.
The genuine local cuisine also reflects the origins of the Alpe Cimbra’s inhabitants. It is based on simple and substantial dishes that are now usually offered in a lighter, more modern form. A particular speciality is potato polenta, served with fresh and cured meats produced locally. A celebrated mountain cheese, produced in Vezzena, forms the principal ingredient of many local dishes, while highly prized mountain honey is produced throughout the area by methods described in the Lavarone Museum of Honey.
Folgaria (1,169 m), the principal centre of this upland area, is one of Trentino’s best-known tourist spots. Fringed by small hamlets, it is the
perfect holiday location for families who enjoy sport and nature.
There are many marvellous walks and numerous opportunities for breathtaking trips on foot, horseback or bicycle. Outstanding examples are the Sentiero della Pace (the Path of Peace), paths along Great War sites, and mountain biking routes, along the 100 km of fortifications, that contain sections suitable for fat bikes, e-bikes, free riding and downhill biking, and is used for numerous competitive events.
Golfers will find an 18-hole course at the Folgaria Golf Club, situated at an altitude of 1,200 metres in a protected nature area.
The 80 kilometres of pistes of the Skitour dei Forti guarantee memorable winter skiing, and there are 35 kilometres of Nordic skiing pistes at the Passo Coe Cross Country Ski Centre. Those who prefer snowshoe hikes, tobogganing, or ice skating at the Folgaria rink, will find it easy to indulge their passions.
Lavarone (1,174 m) is known for its beautiful lake, considered to contain the purest waters of all Italy’s mountain lakes. Its mild climate and clear
waters are a major tourist attraction. There are facilities for fishing and bathing during summer, with ice-skating possible in the depths of winter.
The many hiking trails around Lavarone include the themed routes of "L’Avez del Prinzep" and "Il Respiro degli Alberi", while the Nordic Walking Park has seventeen tracks of varying difficulty. For mountain bikers, as an alternative to the 100 km trails along the fortifications, the Lavarone Bike Park contains several downhill tracks.
The Lavarone Ski Centre contains 30 kilometres of alpine skiing pistes, and over 45 kilometres for Nordic skiing, in an area extending to the Alpe di Vezzena. The Millegrobbe Cross Country Ski Centre is one of the most important Nordic ski areas. It adjoins the Campolongo Cross Country Ski Centre and contains 18 kilometres of easy pistes accessible from the Vezzena Pass, and 21 pistes of greater difficulty that can be reached from Malga Millegrobbe. It also offers a snowboard park, a toboggan run and another run for snow tubes.
Historical sites such as the Austro-Hungarian Fort Belvedere Gschwent (the only one fully preserved, and home to a multimedia museum of the Great War) and the Slaghenaufi Military Cemetery provide cultural interest for visitors.
Luserna/Lusèrn (1,333 m), the smallest of the three Alpe Cimbra locations, is a small mountain village less than ten kilometres from Lavarone and
lying to the north-west of the Sette Comuni, an upland area in the Veneto/Trentino borderland that can be reached through the nearby Vezzena Pass. Luserna
is a linguistic isolate in which the Cimbrian language, an ancient Bavarian tongue, is still spoken. Preserved and handed down in home and school, it is
supported by institutions such as the Documentation Centre and the Cimbrian Institute.
Many traces of the Great War remain in the Luserna area – the kilometres of trenches dug into the undulating mountain pastures, the fortifications of Campo Luserna, the fortified observatory of Cima Vezzena, Fort Verle, and the little Costalta Military Cemetery.
The Vigolana Plateau (700 m) attracts many visitors thanks to its spectacular landscapes shaped by meadows, forests, streams and characteristic villages. The
Plateau counts four localities: Bosentino, a small mountain village facing the Caldonazzo Lake; Centa San Nicolò, famous for the stream that gave it its name
and composed of many little hamlets and local farmsteads - so called “masi”; Vattaro fascinates tourists with its historical buildings and houses, such as the
Bortolazzi Palace. City of ancient origins, Vigolo Vattaro was built on the Roman road connecting the Adige Valley and Valsugana.
The Plateau is a popular destination both in summer and in winter. In the warm days tourists can discover numerous trails on foot, by mountain bike or even on horseback, in particular Via Claudia Augusta and the East Trentino Horse Trail. In the cold season a magical atmosphere fills the air: Christmas cribs decorate the place and visitors have the chance to go for an unforgettable snow shoe walk.