With the end of the summer vacations we are already thinking about the next weekend to spend away from the city and the stressful everyday life: those looking for a place to recharge their batteries immersed in nature can choose Sottoguda, located in the heart of Val Pettorina and at the foot of the Marmolada Dolomites.
Sottoguda rises at a height of 1250 m and has been declared one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, in fact the last outpost towards the Marmolada glaciers, with only the Malga Ciapèla between the two.
What to see in Sottoguda
Sottoguda is one of the hamlets of Rocca Pietore, which has a past as a Longobard settlement before passing under the rule of the County of Tyrol, Bressanone and Belluno to become for a period of time also an autonomous Magnificent Community of the Rocca.
The characteristic trait of the village is without doubt the alpine gothic architecture of the buildings, spectacular to observe for how they are decorated, but above all the presence of the Tabièi, that is to say barns in memory of the Ladin people who lived in these lands in the past. They are barns realized with an ingenious joint of pieces of wood, used also for the shelter of the animals and as warehouses.
Along the road that leads from Sottoguda to Palue then you can meet a series of craft stores that display their beautiful wooden and wrought iron artifacts: the ancient processing of these materials is at the center of the summer festival "Na sera da zacàn", dedicated to the arts and crafts of times gone by.
The picturesque church of Sottoguda is dedicated to Saints Rocco, Fabiano and Sebastian: it dates back to 1486 and its 16th century bell tower dominates the whole village.
Equally beautiful is the Church of Rocca Pietore, in the nearby village of Capoluogo: inside you can admire a beautiful example of Flügelaltar typical of Bavaria and Tyrol, a work realized by Ruprecht Potsch in 1517.
Anyone who decides to visit Sottoguda during the Advent period will be able to take part in the suggestive festival "Nadèl Ite I Tabièi" during which the village dresses up festively among decorations and lights that give a magical atmosphere, while the barns are open to the public offering visitors typical local foods: from dumplings to the pork shin orz menu to apple fritters and grappa flavoured with juniper or mountain pine.
From Malga Ciapèla you can then reach the Museum of the Great War, located at a height of 3000 m and built right next to those positions from which the Austro-Hungarians and Italians fought: the multimedia and interactive routes transport visitors to the times of the Great War, reviving the horrors of that terrible conflict.
What to do in Sottoguda
The territory of Sottoguda is spectacular from a scenic point of view: from the Val Pettorina to the peak of Mount Penna, the highest peak in the Dolomites, to Lake Alleghe, in whose emerald waters are reflected the Marmolada and Mount Civetta.
To complete the visit of the village, among its narrow streets, but full of authentic views, there is the possibility to walk along the thematic path "La Via della Meditazione", a ring of about 2 km inside the beech forest, La Faièr, made by the inhabitants of the village, with some sentences dedicated to the mountain.
Alternatively, you can reach the scenic Punta Rocca by cable car from Malga Ciapèla or the Valle di Franzei, a wonderful, unspoilt valley reached by an easy dirt road, which for the last few kilometres becomes a path, surrounded by green trees. A solitary, authentic place, surrounded by silent woods and the Cime D'Auta peaks.
© Matteo Nesello
A little more than 1 km to Sottoguida there is the naturalistic wonder of the Gola dei Serrai: it is a canyon 2km long, formed due to an ancient seismic event and the erosive work of the torrent Pettorino, whose course runs along most of the path through the gorge. Crossing this canyon means walking between rock walls up to 400 m high, so that they seem to close above the heads of hikers.
The path was used to carry flocks of cows and goats to the high pastures: today it is loved not only by hikers but also by Ice Climbing enthusiasts, who climb those waterfalls that, if in summer they run caressing the high cliffs, in winter they freeze up and become like ice cathedrals.
The Gorge of Serrai di Sottoguda, dotted here and there by dozens of small bridges that cross the Pettorina torrent, offers very suggestive points where to stop, such as the Statue of the Madonna dei Serrai in a rocky niche and the Church of Sant'Antonio da Padova.Today the Serrai di Sottoguda are temporarily closed due to the damage caused by the blizzard in October 2018.