Thursday, 14 June 2012 9:37 AM
While summer may be just around the corner, it's not too early to start planning your next break in the winter. If you and the rest of your family love nothing more than exploring winter landscapes, the Dolomites in Italy is the place for you.
This region is part of the Alps and you'll find it in the north-east of the country. There are numerous places you can visit if you want to go winter walking in the Dolomites, as opposed to skiing or snowboarding, but staying in Kastelruth is perhaps one of your best options.
Also known as Castelrotto, this village is the perfect base from which to explore the 57 sq km Seiseralm Plateau (or Alpe di Siusi, to give it its other name). In the summer, this expanse of land is a vast meadow, but in the winter it becomes a snow-covered wonderland where walkers, snowshoers, skiers and snowboarders can all enjoy the beautiful scenery.
There are 30 km of winter walking paths on the Seiseralm Plateau, so you and your family will never be short of places to explore. One route that may particularly appeal to you and your children is the Hans and Paula Steger trail, which runs from Compaccio to Laranz, although in the summer this is extended as far as Saltria. What makes this path such a delight to follow are the information boards along the way, each one providing details about the area's wildlife or its fascinating history.
While there is no shortage of winter walking trails, you may be keen to get out and discover the snow without any restrictions, in which case snowshoeing is for you. This doesn't require any special training or equipment - apart from the snowshoes - and once you've strapped them on you and the children can set out on an adventure.
If you plan to go snowshoeing on your holiday in Europe, make sure you tell your hotel where you intend to walk and what time to expect you back, so that you and your family remain safe while you enjoy the stunning winter landscapes.
Of course, should you wish to strap on your skis or snowboard while staying in the Dolomites, you'll have plenty of runs to enjoy. There are also extensive cross-country skiing trails on the Seiseralm Plateau - around 60 km of them to be more precise - so you can discover a wider area at a slightly faster pace if you want to.
For a truly magical experience, see if you can time your trip to coincide with the annual Alpe di Siusi Moonlight Classic - a cross-country skiing race held under the stars. It is always arranged for a full moon, so spectators can see the skiers as they glide across the snow.
For a fun afternoon with the whole family, head to the pond of Fie. It freezes over in the winter and becomes a natural ice skating rink, where you can hire some skates and test your skills as you glide about surrounded by the beautiful mountains. If you are staying in Kastelruth, you could also head to Passo Pinei, where an artificial rink is set up each year.
With so many activities to try - and pursuits that the whole family can get involved with - the Seiseralm Plateau in the Dolomites truly is an excellent choice for a getaway that parents and children alike will love.