A Path to Lunch

3 Oct

03 October 2021.

Sunday lunch in Europe is a special thing. So many multi-generational groups gather in restaurants and, I suppose, at homes. Maybe Nonna still cooks for the family on Sundays. I like to think so.

We take great pleasure in carving out a more special meal for lunch on Sunday when we are traveling. It’s even a better experience if we can have a good walk before and after. 

The weather today is borderline bleak and truly bleak weather is in the forecast, but Sunday we avoided rain and enjoyed a six-mile walk, truly a path to — and from — lunch.

For the 9 years we have been visiting Ortisei we have managed to miss an incredibly easy but satisfying walk from Selva di Val Gardena to Santa Cristina Valgardena. This is half of the path known locally as the Il Sentiero del Trenino della Val Gardena or The Trail of the Little Train in the Val Gardena. It is also called La  Ferata de Gherdëina using the Ladin language term for train. We can simply call it the Railway Path or “Trail of the Seven Playgounds.” If you take this route with children, you may never complete it because there are so many — yes, seven — playgrounds to enjoy along the way.

One of the seven playgrounds along the route. A little different than the playgrounds in Forest Grove.

For the record, we’ve walked the Ortisei to S. Cristina section both directions several times. We just never managed to do the Selva section and it might just be the best part.

Castle viewed from the trail. Private residence, dating to 1640 or so.

Why railway? There’s no train here now, but in WWI, Russian POWs were conscripted to build a narrow gauge railway between Chiusa and Selva di Val Gardena. After the war, it became a tourist train (history here https://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrovia_della_Val_Gardena) until it was discontinued in 1960. Eventually, this path was created and serves as a lovely promenade through the Val Gardena for walkers and cyclists alike. 

Along the path one encounters historical pictures and descriptions of the creation of the WWI-era railway, public art, gardens, architecture, and valley and mountain views. The path is thoughtfully bifurcated in places to keep pedestrians and cyclists in separate lanes. There are ample places to stop and eat but we suggest timing this outing for lunch in S. Cristina at La Tambra, a restaurant/pizzeria/steakhouse.

Nothing says Sunday lunch like pork roast, this served with mushroom gravy and potato cakes that are rather like latkes. Of course we drank LaGrein, the local red.

Whether it is Sunday or not, this is a great stop. They have the best pizza in the Val Gardena and an excellent selection of soups, salads, pastas, steaks, and more. The dessert card is hard to resist. 

Warm raspberry sauce with vanilla gelato.

This isn’t a challenging hike. Almost anyone can do it. Most of the route is gently downhill, yet it is 6 miles worth of calorie burning activity with delightful views. What’s not to like?

Logistical details: Buses 350 and 352 from any of the villages take you to Selva Plan. The path starts just a tiny bit uphill from the stop and is quite evident. At S. Cristina, one can continue above the village without stopping in the center, or descend at Dosses to enter the pedestrian zone and find the restaurant. After dining, continue downhill and at the intersection with this sign.

Turn right to enter the interesting  display about the old train. Leaving the tunnel, again follow the obvious path, now steeply down a hill but eventually level again all the way to the church in Ortisei. Total a bit over 6 miles and 2.5 hours. 

12 Responses to “A Path to Lunch”

  1. chloe erkenbrecher October 4, 2021 at 15:08 #

    I’m not sure I would make it to that restaurant. That playground looks like too much fun.


  2. Kim October 3, 2021 at 12:28 #

    Love reading about your travels. I’m salivating over your lunch. Enjoy.


    • Laurel October 3, 2021 at 22:40 #

      Thank you! That was Ric’s lunch and he definitely made a great choice. I liked mine but lOVED his.


  3. Grier October 3, 2021 at 11:46 #

    This one has my name written all over it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel October 3, 2021 at 22:40 #

      You have got to put this and Lauterbrunnen on your itinerary. So many great hikes!


  4. gayleseely October 3, 2021 at 10:14 #

    What a lovely walking path. The views are – of course – great. But then, what’s not to like about a castle built in the 1600’s? But I think the art is an especially nice idea. We need more art in our common spaces. It seems to me this serves to many needs – among them that it causes the observer’s mind to stop and contemplate, and to think about the mind that did the creating of the artwork, and maybe to imagine what they, the observer, could create. It is certainly a cerebral and peaceful thing to think about. I especially loved the horse in motion – very clever. But also, it seems to me that perhaps – really – a community filled with art is a more civilized society. The region has had a few more thousand years to work on their culture than we have, but we sure could take some pointers from them.
    THANK YOU for sending this.


    • Laurel October 3, 2021 at 22:41 #

      I love public art, too! It is always delightful to trip across something in an unexpected place. Ortisei has a lot of it as there are so many artists, especially wood carvers. They have been working at it a very long time. So civilized.


  5. Katy Guadagno October 3, 2021 at 09:48 #

    What a beautiful place and extraordinary experience! So happy you are seeing such wonderful things!


    • Laurel October 3, 2021 at 22:42 #

      Thank you! No matter how many times we have been here, there is always something new to do and old favorites to revisit.


  6. Marcia October 3, 2021 at 09:38 #

    I would do this hike for the pictures of your lovely meal (and of course, dessert!).


    • Laurel October 3, 2021 at 22:43 #

      “Will hike for food” is our mantra! We don’t do dessert often but it was irresistible today.



  1. Two Books for 2022 | Girovaga - February 20, 2022

    […] outing not in the book is one we call “A Path to Lunch,” an easy but satisfying outing in the Val Gardena that can be split into two shorter […]


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