Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, or Path of the Big Trees in English, is a breathtaking hike in the Little Dolomites in the Vicenza Province of Italy. As soon as I saw photos of this hike on Facebook I knew I had to go. So Thanksgiving weekend – since the Veneto region was finally yellow and we could travel – I convinced my homebody husband that we should go. It was roughly an hour drive from home to Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, but we decided to make it an overnight trip. In this post, I’ll tell you all about our trip, share some amazing photos, and give you some tips for your own trip to this stunning hike in Vicenza, Italy.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: How to Get There
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi is located in the province of Vicenza Italy, in the charming mountain town of Recoaro Terme (we stayed in Recoaro Terme in Hotel Trettenero: I’ll talk more about why I highly recommend this hotel later in the post). Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi is roughly an hour’s drive from the provincial capitol of Vicenza. From the closest airports in either Verona or Venice it’s roughly a two hour drive. If you simply put “Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi” into Google Maps, it’ll take you almost directly to the start of the trail. Google Maps takes you to a parking lot by a visitors center on the left hand side of the road, where you can park. You can also continue past the visitor’s center and turn right. Immediately after the right turn, you’ll see a trail sign on the right-hand side.
*Bonus Tip: there’s actually a gravel parking lot you can park in sort of behind the trail head, we though it was walking only but saw people parked there.
After this sign you’ll go through a gravel parking lot area and then up a slight hill. From here you’ll have another sign – go right to continue on the hike. For the entirety of the Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, you’ll want to follow the signs for Refugio Battisti.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: An Overview
Now that we’ve gotten you to the trailhead, let’s talk about the hike itself! I’ll split it up into sections based on the varying terrain and difficulty. I’ll begin by showing you the route I recorded on All Trails.
So a few things about this route:
- The route starts from right to left.
- That weird little off-shoot to the left/bottom along the route, towards the beginning? Feel free to ignore that, we took a detour on another trail (more on this later in the post – I promise it’s worth the read.)
- The timing/distance on the trail is only for the hike out. I stopped the recording on All Trails before we headed back to save phone battery. The trail is in total around 9 miles. The only reason we had 5 miles on the way out was because of our detour.
- This hike is incredibly varied. When I read about it on another blog, it was described as “easy, and suitable for all ages”. I’ll tell you exactly where you should stop before it becomes…not easy. Those switchbacks on the end of the map above, as well as the elevation gain – made that last section a little rough!
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: Part 1 of the Hike
Now that we’ve gotten the overview out of the way, let’s continue with the rest of the hike! Following your right turn at the beginning of the trail, you’ll continue along a pretty flat, well-paved path…really more of a dirt road (yes, we saw a car driving along it) for a short while. Not too long into your walk you’ll come to a small shop/restaurant. I really wanted to stop in on our way back but since we were doing this hike in late November – we were frozen and ready to be done.
Immediately after this warm little refuge is where the real hike starts. You continue along the same wide gravel path and just around the curve – the trail opens up to wide, expansive views. The next section is primarily downhill and absolutely stunning. Our photos don’t do it justice but the cold, blue, winter light made the views somehow more enchanting.
I cannot wait to go back and see how different Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi looks in the spring or summer months. Yet I still loved the views in winter. While not as lush and green, this Vicenza hike was still majestic and breath-taking.
It’s hard to believe those two photos were taken mere minutes apart on the same trail. This is only the beginning of just how varied the trail was during winter.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: A Slight Detour
Another fun part of Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi in Vicenza, Italy is that there are many off-shoots of the trail. There are several other trails along the route that you can take a slight detour on…whether accidentally or intentionally. We took one such detour (see above route on All Trails) and had some fun traipsing through the snow. We also got a closer look at some of the World War I trenches along this section of the trail.
We followed this section of trail for a short while (we didn’t actually realize we’d gone off course). But we had fun running through the snow up hills rather than following the trail. We ended up on a higher section of the trail after skipping over a longer switch back by running up a hill. There we discovered a kind of spooky looking area of dilapidated cottages or shacks and makeshift crosses made of sticks….if I’m being honest it looked like something from a horror movie. It was such an abrupt shift from the snowy winter wonderland with little Christmas trees. Did I mention there were several graves in this area as well?
Even the signposts look spooky! We ran into some Italians and spoke to them briefly, they were trying to find their way to Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi as well. Even the lady we spoke to commented on the sign posts and how poorly marked and strange this section of the trail was. We eventually made our way back to the actual Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi and I was struck by the juxtaposition of the two sections of trail.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: Part 2 of the Hike
Once back on the Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, the trail continued in the same fashion for awhile. Then, after passing a couple small farm houses (apparently in the spring there are plenty of cattle here), the mountainous terrain suddenly opened up into gorgeous alpine meadows. These were surprisingly green despite the winter weather.
Honestly – we debated turning around here. We were ill-prepared for this hike. The weather was colder than we expected from the start, and the elevation gain only making it colder definitely took a toll on us. Being out of shape from months of quarantine definitely didn’t help us either. Plus, I desperately had to use the bathroom. We debated turning around here but…fear of missing out (AKA FOMO) kicked in. I was so convinced that right around the next bend would be an even more incredible view that we couldn’t afford to miss. Plus…we’d come all this way – we had to see it through.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: Part 3 of the Hike
Which brings me to part 3 of Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi – which, actually, this is the part with some big trees. This next section of the trail gets significantly more difficult. Also slightly harder to follow. It’s mostly enclosed in trees and there are a few different forks in the trail. Just remember to continue following signs for Refugio Battisti and you’ll be just fine. There is one section of the trail where you can choose either an upper or lower trail (the upper is much more challenging). We opted for the lower trail so I can only speak to that one. Definitely some steep climbs here, and towards the end – even steeper switchbacks. It was still doable but we were definitely getting tired and hungry.
*If you’re not in the best of shape or have little ones with you – it might be a good idea to turn around after this part of the trail. You’ll definitely notice when it begins getting tougher.
We unfortunately didn’t take many pictures on this section of the trail (we were too busy huffing and puffing if I’m being completely honest). Every switchback we thought the Refugio was just around the corner. Then the trail suddenly dumped out onto an asphalt road. We continued following it up the steep hill, around a couple more bends (I was now in physical pain I had to use the bathroom soo badly) and finally – we were there. Refugio Battisti.
I was so relieved there was a bathroom, and laughed to myself when I opened a stall door. There was a bathroom alright, but be warned there aren’t toilets. I learned today that this type of toilet is called a “pit toilet”, which is literally just a hole in the ground that you squat over. I’ve seen and experienced these before in the middle east and I imagine seasoned hikers in this area of the world are used to them but in case you aren’t – you’re welcome.
We grabbed a couple sandwiches, and I got worried about it getting dark too soon (I didn’t think about the fact we were in the shadow of a mountain). So we started back along the trail. The return definitely felt easier than the trek out, and was definitely faster. And despite the cold, and being tired: we were immensely glad we completed the entire hike.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: Where to Stay
I really hope you’re still reading because this part is just as good as the gorgeous hike itself. When we came to Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi in Vicenza Italy, we stayed at Hotel Trettenero in Recoaro Terme. I cannot recommend this incredible hotel enough. It was stunning. In addition to the full spa at the hotel, we had a jacuzzi tub and rain shower in our room. Plus, this was the view from our room.
Did you miss the part about the full spa? It was just added to the hotel last year and was exquisite. Salt room, Turkish bath, three different types of saunas, and massages by appointment…it was exactly what we needed. Due to COVID restrictions, we had to book three hour slots rather than just getting a day pass but it was still worth every penny of 30 euro a person. In addition to the amazing spa (plus jacuzzi tub in the room), the hotel itself was absolutely gorgeous!
When we were at Hotel Trettenero, they were also just finishing up on a rooftop hot tub!
And as if all of this wasn’t enough to come back…the food was absolutely delicious. We got a set four course dinner for around 27 euro each, and the breakfast was one of the best I’ve had in Europe. Check out their website here.
Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi, Vicenza Italy: In Conclusion
I personally can’t wait to return and tackle this hike once more in warmer months. I hope this post inspires you to check out this little slice of heaven in Veneto. Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi in Vicenza is an incredible experience, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Let me know in the comments what you think of the Sentiero Dei Grandi Alberi hike in Vicenza. Or let me know what your favorite hike within the Vicenza Province or Veneto Region is!