Nestled away, up in the Dolomites is an idyllic mountain hamlet with fresh air and inspiring scenery.
It’s a quiet and unassuming place where you see mountain peaks alongside ancient wooden houses.
Colorful flower boxes dot every corner and it oozes so much charm that you half expect a fairy or two to come frolicking out of the woods. OK maybe a dwarf, but you get the idea!
And it’s a place that once you visit, you certainly won’t forget.
Imagine waking up to the crisp mountain air and taking a morning walk with just you, your thoughts and lots of trees.
That’s life in Cima Sappada. A quiet and quaint corner of NE Italy.
Here you’ll find beautiful wooden houses, pristine nature, and a creative village pastime. It’s a hidden gem.
I love an authentic corner of the world and exploring Italy like a local is a weekend pastime.
I’m also an advocate for tech-free travel, disconnecting in nature, and wellness travel.
The Dolomites are an ideal place to experience all of this, they’re good for the mind & body.
So today I’m sharing a favorite mountain escape with you, an off the beaten path find in NE Italy!
The Alpine Hamlet of Cima Sappada
The hamlet of Cima Sappada is part of the larger village of Sappada, which was settled in the 1300s.
The original 14 farmhouses of Sappada eventually morphed into the current day 15 hamlets.
The town of Sappada is known for a particular ancient architectural style called blockbau. German in its origin, the houses are almost entirely made of wood.
The hamlet of Cima Sappada is one of the best-preserved examples of this architectural style.
In a blockbau house, the stable is below and the barn is above.
Each shingled roof house is made of overlapping beams that rest on a stone base. Giving the ground floor an unusually low birth.
Cima feels rustic to the core.
With all the wood and natural materials, you definitely know you are somewhere in the Alps. No hard lines or modern design here.
Wandering the small lanes makes it easy to marvel at the craftsmanship of the buildings up close.
You may see a few locals, and perhaps a handful of other visitors. But, mostly you can have the place to yourself.
And that’s not even the best part!
Throughout the hamlet are displays of straw people going about village life.
Quirky characters from a just married couple to a beer-drinking man add a sense of whimsey to the already charming locale.
It’s one of those mindful travel experiences that’s easy to relish.
One that makes you curious to peek around the next corner.
There are families, animals, and I even spy what looks like some kind of mythical creature.
I can’t decide what it is, but I really like the hat!
There’s creativity, life and a sense of wit in this village.
As it turns out, the straw-stuffed figures were the idea of the village residents.
They create and maintain them, even changing them from time to time.
Which is just one more reason to return another day!
Cima offers a rare glimpse at life gone by.
With an old diary, a smokehouse, and well-preserved houses, you can easily imagine what life would have been like in an intimate mountain village.
It’s a great escape for the day or a weekend. No matter how long you stay, here are a few things you won’t want to miss.
Things To Do In Cima Sappada
Cima Sappada Mill
Walk along the Mühlbach Stream to the old water-powered mill.
Listen to the water cascade down the terraced hill and take in the fresh air.
It’s a secluded and place to spend some time and perfect for a bit of self-care solitude.
Panorama Hiking Trail
This easy 1.5-mile circular walk takes you through the peaceful grassy plain next to the village.
Ambling under the imposing mountain massifs, it’s a scenic way to spend a half-hour.
There are also other trails if you are looking for something more challenging or want to make a weekend of it all.
Dating back to the late 17th century, this house (open to the public) is kept as it once was.
It’s fascinating to imagine living in a different period of time. Particularly in a place that would have been so very isolated and remote.
This church dates to 1732 and has a unique front portico that is typical of religious structures of the region. Yet, what is really worthy of a look is the tiny enclosed cemetery outback.
Giuseppe Fontana Etnographic Museum
This small but cool museum tells the story of historic Cima, with a particular emphasis on domestic life. There are some fascinating items here.
Trattoria La Rustica
Stop by Trattoria La Rustica for a delicious lunch. Every time I pass this place the aroma just draws me in, and the traditional mountain fare is a treat.
Cafe Il Quadrifoglio
Right next door to La Rustica is cafe Il Quadrifoglio. A perfect place for a coffee or an aperitivo. Sit outside and take in the fresh air.
Walking through this tiny hamlet is like stepping into another world. It’s like walking into rural life from a bygone era. You can escape and experience another place & time.
And in the end, isn’t that one of the reasons we all love to travel?!
Cima Sappada is an ideal day trip (2 hr drive) from Venice or Trieste.
It’s about an hour to the famous mountain resort of Cortina and one of the best day hikes in The Dolomites, Lago di Sorapis.
A bit further afield is the South Tyrol region, with famous hikes like Alpe di Siusi and Seceda.
Or you can go east and explore the off the beaten path in Friuli Venezia Giulia. A quiet and small region of Italy that offers loads of local charm.
Cima is one of those rare finds that seems frozen in time. Millions of miles away from the high tech digital world it will recharge your well-being. And for that alone, well worth a visit in my book!
until the next time…
…live well – travel well – be well
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