From beautiful lakes and mountains, to outdoor adventures and traditional cuisine, a holiday in Terme di Comano, Trentino is guaranteed to be special.
The area of Terme di Comano is famed for its healing thermal waters, which are rich in minerals and known to relieve skin disorders and allergies. While some visit for wellness breaks and to enjoy the water’s medicinal qualities, I was in the area for a different type of medicine. The one created by the great outdoors!
If you’re feeling tired, stressed, run down or mentally drained, I’d prescribe a trip here for you too! It’s a beautiful corner of northern Italy, filled with epic mountains, bright green and blue lakes and a wonderfully hearty cuisine.
It’s a completely different destination from summer to winter, as hiking and cycling are replaced with winter sports. I’d recommend late spring or early autumn as lovely times to visit if you want to experience the region’s nature at its best. During my trip at the start of October we enjoyed warm sunshine, blues skies and fresh mountain air.
While Lake Garda is around 30 minutes away by car, the two places felt very different. So different that I felt they needed separate blog posts! Time to share a few of my highlights from my time in the Terme Di Comano region…
Terme Di Comano Highlights
Hike for your lunch along one of four special hiking routes
This part of Trentino is proud of its local produce. As you drive along the pretty mountain roads you’ll pass walnut, apple, and cherry trees, fields of cavolo nero, turnips, corn and potatoes, and see pigs, cows and donkeys grazing. There’s an emphasis on farm to table cuisine, and the majority of the meals I had in the Comano area were crated from ingredients grown close by.
So what better way to get to know the ingredients and cuisine, than with a hike through the region to see the process first hand. There are four hiking routes that do just that – one for ciuìga (a traditional sausage with turnip), another for Bleggio walnuts, another for Lomaso potatoes and a hike celebrating milk production in the region.
We went on the sentiero della ciuìga, a 7.5km hike which starts in San Lorenzo. It was a lovely way to explore the region’s prettiest villages, learn about local traditions and come face to face with spectacular and remote scenery.
We finished the hike by tasting the smoked ciuìga salami, which I thought was delicious with its salty pork flavour combined with delicate turnip. While traditionally they used a lot of turnip in ciuìga to bulk it out when money was tight, as people have got richer, the balance has changed a little!
Take in views of Lake Molveno – Italy’s most beautiful lake*
*Ok a little asterisk as the lake has been officially voted Italy’s most beautiful lake several times by Italy’s Touring Club, both for its stunning surroundings and also its water quality…. But I’m aware there are plenty of gorgeous lakes so it’s up to you to pick your personal favourite!
Oh, wow Lake Molveno you are a stunner! That rich blue water, epic mountains, peaks of the Brenta Dolomites behind and… errr… no people! I should add that the lack of crowds had a little something to do with visiting at the start of October. I know it’s a lot busier in peak summer. There are beaches around the lake, places to sail, kayak, paddle board and even swim if you’re ready for those icy mountain temperatures.
It really is beautiful and so peaceful too. I’d recommend stopping off on your road trip or cycle route and enjoying a little walk around the lake. It’s Italy’s nature at its best!
READ MORE: Things To Do In Riva del Garda
Wander an interactive art gallery in the forest
An unexpected highlight of my trip was our walk through a forest trail in Stenico. We stumbled across Bosco Arte Stenico – an outdoor art gallery made entirely from wood. Each year there is a theme (previous themes have included balance and women) and artists visit the area and create their artworks from forest materials.
The natural artworks remain in the forest, changing with the seasons, and gradually becoming at one with their surroundings. My favourite pieces included the giant tap made from sticks, the stack of crayons made from small tree trunks, and the elegant ballerina suspended between two trees.
Visit a local food festival
So back to the delicious pork and turnip salami known as ciuìga. Every November in San Lorenzo in Banale, a spotlight is shone on this traditional Comano food, with the Sagra Della ciuìga – yep, that’s the ciuìga festival! Last year 20,000 people visited in one day, all the hotels were fully booked, and everyone happily feasted on salami and other local delicacies. Sounds like a reason to return.
It’s not the only foodie festival in the region. There’s the Festa Della Patata (mountain potato festival) in October in Campo Lomaso and the Festa Della Noce (nut festival) in November in Cavrasto di Bleggio. You can find out more here.
I’ve mentioned the healing waters as one of the reasons to visit the area, but sadly I never had time to squeeze in a spa trip. If you do want to enjoy them on your holiday, I heard great things about the Grand Hotel in Terme di Comano where you can enjoy the healing benefits of the spa waters, or book a special treatment in the wellness centre. They also use the Comano Care products, which contain the special spa water.
Feast on gelato and donuts at Erika Eis
As kids poured in after school for tasty scoops of gelato, I could tell this was a popular local spot. Erika Eis is a factory with a chic store attached, selling the brand’s creations and other items produced locally.
We were allowed a sneak peek to see how the products are created, from raw ingredients right through to packaged boxes. While ice cream production had finished for the day, it was fascinating to see how the company produces krapfen (known as donuts to us).
The factory produces 100,000 krapfen each day, and seeing the little balls of dough passing along a conveyor belt, being deep fried, air dried, frozen, packaged and sent to a store room all on one continuous pieces of robust machinery was absolutely mesmerising. I’ll never look at a donut in the same way again.
If you’re a gelato lover, hold tight – Erika Eis has plans to open a museum dedicated to the delicious treat, and courses so you can learn how to make ice cream.
Check out the Mozart loving cows at Maso Pisoni
A few years ago, during a trip to Chile, I visited a winery where they played classical music to the wine barrels in the cellar. They claimed the vibrations improved the quality of the wine. Whether that’s true or not, who knows? But it was a memorable tour..
When I heard that in the mountains in Trentino there’s a farm where they play classical music to their cows, I was intrigued! Sure enough, at Maso Pisoni they have a speaker in the stable playing Vivaldi, Mozart and more. They think the music relaxes the cows and makes them happier. After saying a little hello, we went inside to see (and taste) the amazing cheese they make with the cows’ milk. Delicious, with grassy notes and mountain flavours!
Stay in a mountain hotel under a blanket of stars at Garni Lilly Hotel
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to stay in this region, I’d recommend Garni Lilly. It’s a family-run hotel, oozing mountain charm, with warm hospitality, and one of the best views you’ll see both at night and in the morning.
Located in San Lorenzo in Banale, I had a room that looked out towards the mountain peaks. I returned one evening and was about to go to sleep when I decided to have a quick look outside. I couldn’t believe my eyes. SO many stars, filling the sky. I couldn’t resist but grab my camera and snap some night photos. What a view!
Breakfast was great too, and along with being in a wonderful location for hiking, you can also hire e-bikes from the hotel to explore the region on two wheels.
Enjoy tasty traditional food from Comano at Hotel Castel Mani
After tiring ourselves out on the Sentiero Della Ciuiga hike, it was great to sit down at Hotel Castle Mani and tuck into some authentic local cuisine. The terrace at this hotel has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the village of San Lorenzo in Banale, backed by epic mountain peaks.
We enjoyed a lunch of ciuiga, lardo, cheese, locally foraged mushrooms, homemade jams and salmerino (alpine char) from a nearby lake. Then it was time for my first bowl of spätzle – a small gnocchi, this time served with a sauce made from the ciuiga. It was a lovely place to relax in the sunshine and revive our tired legs before working off the tasty treats on an afternoon hike. As this is a hotel, you can also stay here – something I’d definitely consider next time as I spotted a hot tub out on the terrace too!
Enjoy a walk around Lake Nembia
Close to Lake Molveno, at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites, is this bright green lake. After the vast expanse of water at Lake Garda and reasonably large Lake Molveno, it was sweet to see such a small lake – just 400m long and 120m wide. The colour surprised me, as though someone had turned up the saturation. Surely water couldn’t be this shade of green?
The lake sits within the Nembia Nature Reserve and is a great place for a leisurely walk. There’s an easy circular 3km trail to follow, with lovely views and the chance to see some wildlife too.
Cycle your way through the region’s cuisine on the Kilometrozero Bike Tour
As anyone who follows my blog will know, I’m not a cyclist. Me + two wheels = calamity. I’ve tried to face up to my demons but just haven’t managed to get my confidence yet.
However, if I was a keen cyclist, I’d love to do the Kilometrozero e-bike tour, which follows a similar concept to the hikes which lead you through areas showcasing local cuisine. The name refers to the fact the foods are found within 0 km of the location. It includes stops in:
- Poia – famous for purple potatoes and ciuiga
- Vigo Lomaso – known for its fresh fruits
- Bleggio – famous for its walnuts
- Ponte Arche – home of artisan M’Ami gelato
Sandy went on the bike tour and said that it was a challenging ride, with steep climbs (hurrah for the e-bike!), downward slopes and some bumpy off-road terrain. The views were breathtaking and made it a rewarding excursion. If you’re used to mountain biking, you should be fine!
Feast on the region’s best pizza at Pizzeria Ristorante Dologno
I don’t know if anything beats a really good pizza when you’re in Italy… other than perhaps one of the plentiful meat and cheese platters we’d eaten, or the tasty pasta! Finally, on our last night we sat down to dinner at Dologno, a family-run restaurant in the ancient village of Stenico. One of the managers was born in England, and was super friendly, telling us all about her move from Britain to Italy.
The pizza dough was light and crisp with heaps of toppings. I went for one with chanterelle mushrooms, mozzarella, peppers and local lucanica sausage. It was the perfect end to our time in Trentino.
Learn about nut production at Maso Pra’Cavai
Do you know what a walnut tree looks like? Or how they get walnuts off the trees? Or what happens next before you see them for sale in a shop? I had no idea until I visited this small agricultural farm in Bleggio.
We arrived and were greeted by members of the Brochetti family who showed us around. After seeing the grove of walnut trees, we learned about both the traditional and modern techniques for removing the walnuts from the trees. In the olden days they used to use long sticks to hit the upper branches, causing the walnuts to fall down to the ground. Here’s Shu having a go…
These days it’s a different technique entirely. They lasso the upper branches, attach the ropes to a small tractor, and then put the machine on a mode that causes huge vibrations. Soon enough it was raining nuts, as walnuts fell from the tallest branches!
I had a go at the traditional method, and amusingly it ended in disaster! I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t look up at the tree while hitting the branches. Yep, a walnut came careering down from a great height and landed directly on my eyeball. Cue me with an ice pack on my face for the next hour, wondering how I’d ever explain my ridiculous injury to anyone without them giggling in my face! Don’t worry – it healed up, but if you do have a go at nut beating, DON’T LOOK UP!
After seeing the machinery used to remove the walnut shells, clean the nuts and dry them, we ventured inside to prepare a traditional honey and nut combination to take home. The concoction is high in energy, so perfect for those venturing into the mountains hiking or cycling. I also heard it works well with cheese – something I’ll be trying at home soon.
After a busy morning tending to our walnuts, we sat down to lunch with the rest of the family for a tasty Sunday lunch of gnocchi with lardo. There are a few rooms on site at Maso Pra’Cavai, so you could enjoy a foodie break like this one or book in on a B&B basis. It’s somewhere you’ll feel part of the family immediately, with such warm hospitality and friendly hosts.
TOP TIP: Trentino Guest Card How amazing is this? If you book a stay in Trentino of two nights or more, you get a free Trentino Guest Card. It gives you free public transport, free entry to lots of museums, attractions and castles, plus discounts to a whole load of other things in the area. Have a read on how to get your Trentino Guest Card here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Comano di Terme and the surroundings a little better, and this post helps with your trip planning!
Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later…