Formerly known as Pedraces and San Leonardo, the two small villages on either side of the Ega river have joined together to become Badia. Despite being noticeably smaller than the neighbouring town of Corvara, Badia holds residence to some fantastic restaurants and shops and provides easy access to low and high level walking in the area. Surrounded by two stunning natural parks and home to the welcoming chalet of Haus Valentin, this quaint area in the Val Badia surely has plenty to offer when considering a place to spend a walking holiday in the Dolomites.
Even on the approach, it becomes apparent that Badia is a stunning place to have the privilege in staying. The Fanes Natural Park with its sheer limestone rock face, dominates high above the valley and spends most evenings showing off the magnificent Enrosadira; a dark reddish glow against the limestone. Standing opposite, the Puez Odle Natural Park invites sturdy walkers to climb its 950m ascent to the top, opening up jaw-dropping sights across as far as Austria. The immediate area is completely set up for walkers of all abilities and no matter which route you decide to take, you will not be disappointed with what’s on offer. The sante croche lift is accessible after a 3 minute walk from the main road and takes you high upon the plateau. From here turning either left or right will expose you to beautiful walks that undulate across meadows and rocky terrain, leading down to the nearby villages of San Cassiano and Wengen.
Every village has its highlights, and Badia does not fail to offer unique services for its visitors. The Badia pub found alongside the river is a cosy establishment perfect for relaxing and soaking up the friendly atmosphere. The owner Agon never fails to play a mix of Ladin, Spanish and delightfully cheesy pop music; be sure to try his home-made elderflower Grappa, a perfect digestif after a freshly made pizza. Just down the road is a place called Ricky’s – don’t be fooled by the one small sign that indicates its whereabouts as the little tucked away patisserie is home to many temptations. Puff pastry, apple strudel, local chocolate and freshly ground coffee are just a few delights that will reassure you that you are indeed living the Italian dream. If cycling is your thing, pop into Bike Top (also known as Ski top in the winter) for both mountain and road bike hire – Renato will be sure to recommend some interesting routes in the area. Don’t forget to seek out the all important Gelato whilst in town. I recommend Elvie with its tasty home-made ice-cream selection, or perhaps a huge fruit arrangement with cream will take your fancy.
It is the general sleepy, quiet atmosphere throughout the season that adds such charm to Badia. Although the area is aimed towards tourism in many ways (with its collection of chalets, self catering apartments and hotel Melodia), it ceases to allow holiday-makers to dominate. The large residential area and the surrounding local businesses create a genuine South Tyrolean feel which other towns may lack. Even though a steady flow of traffic passes through, it does not affect the quiet ambience, especially against the sound of the river. Whilst grabbing a coffee break, you will find yourself surrounded by local people, immersed in a different language and culture – listen closely to establish whether Italian, German or Ladin is being spoken.
When Badia offers an ideal place for a walking holiday, all that is needed is suitable accommodation to complete the perfect package. The wonderful family run chalet Haus Valentin, of which is the only one used by Collett’s in the area, is sure to make you feel at home almost instantly. The large bar and seating area is perfect for office hour whereby guests can mingle, enjoy a drink and gaze out at the stunning Fanes massif. Monica bakes fresh cake daily without fail – a perfect snack which is always deserved after a long walk in the mountains. The rest of the family are sure to say ‘Buongiorno’ should you happen to pass; perhaps whilst Christina is watering the flowers, Melanie is getting to know the guests over a Prosecco or when Rainer is taking his beloved dog Cosmo for a walk (although you’ll usually hear him yodelling in the kitchen as he prepares a delicious 3 course meal). A mix of Ladin, German and Italian dishes are on offer and what’s great is that no same dish will be repeated during the week, although you’ll wish that certain ones were. Enjoy a room with a balcony overlooking the stunning peaks and relax to the sound of the river, best enjoyed with a refreshing Hugo or Spritz. Or perhaps you’d prefer to gather on the terrace after dinner to enjoy the unique sighting of the Enrosadira – a perfect picture moment to share with friends and family back home.
Badia offers an exceptional South Tyrolean experience for those new to the area and always has something new to offer for those who are returning. It is easy to see why people return year after year with so many possible walking paths to explore. Add that to the temptation of Via Ferrata and spectacular wildflowers in the area and you have yourself a perfect set-up for a walking holiday in the Dolomites.