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Introducing Val Pusteria

Running from the junction of the Valle Isarco at Bressanone (Brixen) to San Candido (Innichen) in the far east, the narrow, verdant Val Pusteria is profoundly Tyrolean and almost entirely German-speaking.

Dobbiaco (Toblach), where Gustav Mahler once holed up and wrote his troubled but ultimately life-affirming Ninth Symphony, is the gateway to the ethereal Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti di Sesto, home of the much-photographed Tre Cime di Lavaredo ('Three Peaks' or, in German, Drei Zinnen). Down yet another deeply forested valley twist, the jewel-like Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) is just the spot for a peaceful lake-side stroll, and is home to a beautiful historic hotel, the Pragser Wildsee. Serious walkers tackle part of the Alta Via No 1 from here.

The Plan de Corones (Kronplaz) ski area — covered by Dolomiti Superski - is 4km to the south of bustling Brunico and can be reached by cable car. Ample green and blue runs are spectacularly set — a treat for beginners.

Bumping the Austrian and Veneto borders in the far northeast is a vast, wild territory, the Sesto Dolomiti. The Valle Campo di Dentro and Val Fiscalina are crisscrossed with spectacular walking and cross-country skiing trails; most around the Tre Cime are easy enough for inexperienced walkers and families. From the Val Fiscalina it's a long but gentle walk along trail No 102 to Rifugio Locatelli (2405m), from where you can see the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in all its glory.