Mythical Mountains: The Peaks of Rosengarten & Latemar

Come twilight, the peaks of the Rosengarten massif glow a spectacular pink. Unsurprisingly, these stunning Dolomite peaks attract many exploring hikers!

Rosengarten-Latemar: An Overview

The hiking area surrounding Rosengarten and Latemar offers truly spectacular scenery. Located in the centre of Northern Italy’s Dolomites, in the Eggental Valley (Italian: Val d’Ega), the Rosengarten (‘Rose Garden’) massif and the area around Mt. Latemar are popular winter resorts, but also a firm favourite with walkers eager to explore the dramatic terrain. The peaks of Rosengarten are shrouded in myth and legend, which certainly adds to its dramatic appeal; but despite the ancient, craggy backdrop, the area is only 30 minutes’ drive from the bustling city of Bolzano (Bozen).

Although the landscape appears seemingly inhospitable, there are numerous hiking trails around Rosengarten and Latemar; and there are many easier routes in the Eggental Valley, which has alpine lakes, forests and meadows filled with wildflowers. The Schlern-Rosengarten Nature Reserve is also a popular spot for exploration on foot.

Although situated in northern Italy, the region predominantly speaks German (over 90%) and has an atmosphere that is distinctly Austrian in flavour, with a strong sense of Alpine charm. The area is very popular in the winter, and in the summer there is a more relaxed ambiance; which creates a good balance between peaceful and lively.

There are three main places to stay in the Rosengarten-Latemar area. Welschnofen is the largest of the towns, and is situated at the base of the Rosengarten peaks, which makes it an ideal place to stay for those who want to explore the mountains. It is also surrounded by lush meadows and dense spruce forests, and is only 6km (3.7mi) from beautiful Lake Karersee (Italian: Lago did Carezza). Bolzano is also conveniently close, and is only 15km (9.3mi) away.

Deutschnofen (Nova Ponente in Italian) is a scenic alpine town, which is well situated for walking and cycling, and Tiers am Rosengarten is the main village in the Tierser Valley (German: Tiersertal), and also offers excellent proximity to the Rosengarten Mountains.

Exploring the Rosengarten-Latemar Area on Foot

The wider area of Rosengarten-Latemar, the Eggental Valley, has a huge number of hiking trails and the densest trail network in the Dolomites. In total, there are 530km (329mi) of hiking trails.

The Rosengarten mountain range is one of the most famous Dolomite walking areas, thanks largely to its remarkable pink glow, which is particularly noticeable in the twilight. The summit of Rosengartenspitze reaches a height of 2,981m (9,780ft). However, at 3,004m (9,855ft), the highest peak in the Rosengarten group is Mt. Kesselkogel.

The Schlern-Rosengarten Nature Reserve is also excellent for walking, with some classic Alpine scenery to enjoy (think green meadows, forests and craggy, mountainous landscapes), and the routes leading to Lake Karersee are a definite must. With its remarkable clear waters, reflecting the Latemar mountain peaks with dazzling clarity, it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites.

Things to Do in Rosengarten-Latemar

Aside from the walking, cycling is also a major pastime in the region, and there are a number of bike-rental establishments offering bicycles for the day. If you prefer to explore the Rosengarten area at a more leisurely pace, horse riding is a really enjoyable way to spend the afternoon, particularly if travelling with children.

Welschnofen has an open-air pool, which has a separate kid’s pool, whirlpool and huge sunbathing area; and it provides a good opportunity to relax after a few days of walking.

If you’re looking for a day trip within easy reach of your stay in the Rosengarten-Latemar region, then a visit to Castle Karneid (German: Schloss Karneid) is well worth the effort. Only approximately 4km (2.5mi) east of Bolzano, the castle, dating back to the 1200s, clings dramatically on a rock-edge and since 2006, has been open to visitors, though only during the summer months.

Alternatively, a trip to the city of Bolzano will not disappoint. The streets are lined with baroque architecture, and the culture is a fascinating blend of both Austrian and Italian. While in Bolzano, make sure to visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, where Ötzi, the ancient (not to mention extremely famous) ice-man still resides.

The Legend of Rosengarten

Whilst on holiday in the Rosengarten-Latemar region, you can’t fail to notice the significance of the ancient legend of Rosengarten. According to the ancient tales, dwarves used to live in the area, and their king was called Laurin, who had a rose garden concealed within the mountain itself, said to be the most beautiful in all the land.

King Laurin draped himself in an invisible cloak and stole the daughter of a neighbouring king, taking her back to the mountains. However, he was pursued by the king and his men and captured, despite of his invisibility. The very thing that had given away his whereabouts were his beloved roses, which had tellingly swayed and parted as he passed through them.

This, or so the legend has it, is why the mountains glow a beautiful shade of rose in the twilight!

How to Get to Rosengarten-Latemar

Bolzano (Bozen) is only a short drive from Welschnofen and is well connected by public transport. Bolzano even has its own domestic airport, though the nearest international airports are at Innsbruck (Austria) to the north, and Verona to the south. Both are about 2 hours’ away, and can be reached by train or car.

The area is well served by main roads, for those driving. Regular buses run between Bolzano and the main villages, which makes getting there relatively simple.