South Tyrol / Italy

Short Getaway to San Martino/ South Tyrol/ Italy – a Wellness Retreat

Tired? Stressed? Out of balance? No time for an extensive vacation? We all have been there! Escaping the dull routine of everyday life for a prolonged weekend might work wonders! 

My 5 Pro-Tips

  • Bring cash or a credit card (highway or hut: no debit cards accepted) 
  • Bring a jacket/ sweater to your hike (it can get pretty chilly even in summer)  
  • Use Sunscreen in the mountains (no matter if it is summer or winter) 
  • Enjoy vino di casa when in a restaurant/ bar: excellent, local and cheap 
  • Leave your phone at flight mode or switch it off (draw your attention to more important things)

Getting there: 

All your bags are packed and you´re ready to go, you´re standing there outside your door (what a catchy song 😉 ). Great – hop into your car and off you go! 

If your journey starts from anywhere north of Italy, take the highway towards Brennero. As soon as you cross the Italian border you will pass the tollbooth at Brennero, they will charge you a fee of 9,5 Euro which is used for construction costs, operation and maintenance of the motorway network. (Thanks guys – great streets). To give you a bit of a heads up: if the person working at the booth tells you: “Have a great vacation”, do not answer: “Thanks, you too”, they definitely do not think it´s funny. Congrats to my plus one on that one! 

Arriving at the next tollbooth you will receive a ticket, which will be needed later on, so remember where you put it. Very soon you have to leave the highway at Vipiteno/ Sterzing, which is a lovely town for a short break. But first of all, another tollbooth awaits you – do we still have the ticket? Great! As this is the first exit after Brennero it will only cost you 1,4 Euro. 

Arriving at Vipiteno you will soon realize that it is a little jewel, which enchants by its medieval flair embedded in a stunning countryside. I can only recommend going for a short walk through the oldtown, having a delicious cappuccino or a lovely Aperol Spritz, which always goes along with some gorgeous salty snacks (Aperitivo).  

Continuing your ride to San Martino leads you up the Passo Pennes (Penserjoch). Bearing with its curvy tiny streets will reward you with a breathtaking view from 2211 meters. After around 50 minutes of a rollercoaster ride you will arrive at the gorgeous “Boutiquehotel Kircher” in San Martino/ Reinswald.  

Where to stay? “Boutiquehotel Kircher: 2 and a half days in heaven” 

Arriving at the hotel we were welcomed with two glasses of champagne and a plate of local “Speck” with some crispy traditional South Tyrolean bread.   After a short hotel tour the receptionist showed us our room, with a stunning lateral valley view. All snuggled up in the bathrobe we went down to the buffet for a small afternoon snack offering cheese, speck, traditional bread and various kind of cakes. After the snack (which was probably more the size of a proper dinner), we checked out the wellness area. 

As the hotel is located slightly elevated, nestled in the mountains, it offers a beautiful pool and sauna area, (including a bio herbal sauna, a steam bath, adventure showers and an ice fountain) with a panoramic view, equipped with comfortable floating loungers and cozy couches. Fruits, nuts and teas are served in the so called “Plauderstube” (chatroom) right next to the saunas. 

Last but not least, we haven´t addressed one of the most important issues yet: Coffee! Isn´t it the worst when you´re staying in a beautiful hotel, getting up in the morning, going for breakfast and looking for a great cappuccino, and all you get is nasty brown soup? Am I right? I can put your mind at ease: the coffee was de-li-cious!! Perfectly roasted, smooth with creamy milk froth – Absolut heaven!  

Where to eat? “The Pizza life chose us” 

For dinner the hotel restaurant “Bistrot Panorama”, would have offered a 5-course dinner created by a gourmet chef, however we decided to go for a traditional Pizzeria close to our hotel. 

The “Pizzeria Santer Hof” offers a vast number of different kinds of “Pizze”, including a broad range of vegetarian options. Google ratings are not exaggerated – it was undoubtedly one of the best pizzas I have ever had. The service and the owner are incredibly friendly, prices are valid, and we even got an authentic “Zirbenschnaps” after our meal for free. A no-brainer we came back the next day! 

I cannot really leave you with just two options for dinner, can I? 

Another place which has been recommended to us is the “Sarner Forellenzucht” (Trout farm) just 15 minutes by car from the hotel. If you’re being adventurous (and not a vegetarian like me) you can even try out fishing, and if you´re lucky, you can enjoy your freshly caught fish! Unfortunately, we didn´t have time to try it out, but if you do – leave a comment down below and let us know if it is worth a try! 

What to do? “The mountains are calling, and you should go”

If you are willing to tear yourself away from the beautiful wellness area and still want to take part in one or the other activity, I can recommend the following: 

Just a 12-minutes’ walk or a five-minutes’ drive away, you will find San Martino´s Cable Car. If your hotel handed you out the “Bolzano Card” it is one out of hundreds of attractions, museums or other activities which is included. Just remember – the cable car takes you from 1570m up to around 2100 meters, so even if it is summer, pack your jacket, it can get chilly up there. Starting from the mountain station Pichlberg it is quite an easy hike to “Getrumsalm” so you can devote your undivided attention to the stunning scenery around you.  It will only take you around one hour; also, the path is suitable for families and children. 

If you´re just coming up for the view and an ice cold “Radler”, you can walk into the other direction, and after 500 meters you will arrive at “Pfnatschalm”.

The next day the receptionist recommended the “Omini di pietra” (Stoanerne Mandln/ Rocky Men) hiking tour to us. After around 40 minutes’ drive we arrived at the Sarner Skihütte, to start of our hike.  It took us around one and half hours until we reached the Rocky Men. There are quite a view legends and myths when it comes to this place. Did they serve as signposts? Have shepherds set them up to pass time? Or was it a witches’ meetings point or Celtic cult? We will never know!? However, the view from an altitude of 2000 meters including the rocky men make it a magical place. 

Another thing I didn´t know about is, that hiking in a mini skirt is apparently a thing among middle aged women in South Tyrol. This is a trend which I haven´t been informed about, however I might anyways stick to my comfy leggings. 

Going down we stopped for a refreshing Radler at the Auener Alm. It was a lovely trip but not as easy to hike as the receptionist told us. 

To sum it up: Feeling the nature, eating some soul food and enjoying a lovely glass of Rosé whilst watching the sunset with its last warm sunrays touching your face is sometimes all you need – one thing I can certainly say: we will be back – there is so much more to explore.   

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