On December 11 each year, the International Mountain Day reminds us that the Giants of the Earth need us. Let's take this chance to know the top destinations in Italy
Since 2003 the General Assembly of the United Nations has instituted the International Mountains Day, lest we forget that even these imposing, eternal wonders of nature, now more than ever, must be guarded and protected.
Italy is home to some of the most important peaks in Europe, immense resources of biodiversity, beauty and culture. These complex ecosystems have been living for millions of years, apparently destined to remain forever, yet sometimes they are put at risk by human beings.
A journey through the most beautiful mountain destinations in Italy is an opportunity to admire scenery of unparalleled beauty, but also to know and learn how to preserve customs, traditions and languages that cannot be found elsewhere.
5. Brunico – Alto Adige
In Val Pusteria, one of the most beautiful green areas in Northern Italy, there is a town of about 16000 inhabitants, modern, lively but with a picturesque old town where you can stroll and learn about the excellent local cuisine. It is Brunico, one of the most popular destinations for mountain lovers, with two important firsts.
Among the rugged peaks of the Dolomites and the high Alpine peaks which here reach 3000 meters, a few years ago a sports climbing gym has been inaugurated. It is the largest in Europe, where you can train before embarking on real excursions.
Climbing is not your thing? Between breathtaking views and endless cycle paths, you will also have the opportunity to ski.
The Brunico mountain par excellence is Plan de Corones, which houses, among other things, the museum dedicated to the famous mountaineer Messner. It is one of the few Italian mountains to have five black runs, known as the Black Five for their high degree of difficulty.
But Brunico is not just for experts: along its 100 km or more of perfectly equipped ski slopes, there are paths for all tastes and abilities.
I don't carry flags on the mountains: on the peaks I never leave anything, except, for a very short time, my footsteps that the wind soon deletes
4. Cortina d'Ampezzo – Veneto
Cortina is located in the Ampezzo Valley, one of the few regions of Italy where survives the Ladin, a language of unknown origins. The valley is in a privileged position, surrounded by a ring of imposing peaks, six of which exceed 3000 meters. Not long ago it got the high honour, together with Milan, to give its name to the Olympic Winter Games of 2026.
Despite being known for luxury tourism, this small town has a lot to offer to those who simply love the mountains. Among breathtaking sceneries you will get the chance to go snowboarding, skiing or cycling, but if you need a break from glamourous life you can enjoy landscapes of poignant beauty, in the silence and peace of the three highest mountains in this area: the Tofane.
Furthermore, the Three Peaks of Lavaredo can be easily reached from Cortina. These peaks, with their unmistakable, sharp profile, are probably the most famous symbol of the Dolomites.The incredible beauties of Cortina d'Ampezzo and of the surrounding landscape have also attracted great directors and movie stars. In fact, famous movies have been shot here such as Il Conte Max with Vittorio de Sica, James Bond - For your eyes only, with Roger Moore and more recently Cliffhanger, with Sylvester Stallone.
3. Bormio - Lombardy
In Alta Valtellina, within the Stelvio National Park, there is a wonderful natural basin surrounded by river valleys. Its heart is the pretty city of Bormio, located at 1225 meters above sea level. Once an important commercial town, Bormio has become over the years a renowned tourist resort, appreciated for its truly unique natural scenery, but not only. In the city there are internationally renowned spas and a beautiful old town that is worth visiting.
The Stelvio pass, at 2758 meters above sea level, is also part of the municipality of Bormio. It can be reached quite easily through a long series of well-asphalted switchbacks, considered a paradise for cyclists and bikers.
But Bormio is also one of the European capitals of winter sports, every year it hosts the downhill race of the Ski World Cup.
The ski lifts reach over 3000 meters and next to simpler slopes there is also the one with the greatest skiable altitude difference in Italy. A jump of 1800 meters guarantees strong emotions to everybody.
Speaking of unrepeatable emotions, Bormio too will host the highly anticipated 2026 Winter Olympics.
2. Madonna di Campiglio - Trentino
Immersed in one of the most beautiful natural settings in Italy, Madonna di Campiglio is surrounded by the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park, a UNESCO heritage site in the heart of the Dolomites.
At 1550 meters above sea level, it is one of the most famous and popular mountain destinations in Italy, for many reasons.
Here nature gives its best, offering some of the most breathtaking shows in Italy, but there is glamour too, with gourmet restaurants and luxury hotels that once hosted even the famous Elisabeth, Empress of Austria.
Actually, the memory of the presence of the empress and her husband has remained alive over time and even now, during the week of Carnival, in Madonna di Campiglio you can dive into the sumptuous atmosphere of the royal court. A unique and fun experience is the Hapsburg Sciata, to ski with the costumes of the time, together with the imperial couple and their court. All within a path of 150 km of ski slopes all connected to each other, known as the Skiarea Campiglio Dolomiti di Brenta.
Madonna di Campiglio, however, is also much loved by families because it offers many opportunities for fun within everyone's reach, from snowshoeing, to walking with sled dogs, to paragliding for true daredevils.
1. Courmayeur – Aosta Valley
The small town located at 1224 meters above sea level, on the border with both France and Switzerland, has less than 3000 inhabitants but is always full of life, thanks to a busy calendar of events of all kinds.
To get to know the rich and ancient local culture you will find numerous traditional festivals, but also concerts, movies and noir literature festivals, and museums such as the Alpine one or the Minerals one.
What makes Courmayeur truly unique, however, is the fact that it is the starting point par excellence for visiting Mont Blanc, the King of the Alps. Not an ordinary mountain, this one: with a height of 4810 meters it is the highest peak in Europe, included among the so-called Seven Summits of the Planet, the group of the highest mountains in the world, chosen one per continent.
To enjoy the awe inspiring landscapes of these majestic mountains, you can take the Tour du Mont-Blanc, a path that crosses Italy, France and Switzerland for 200 km of nature and culture.
Moreover, from Courmayeur the cable cars leave for an area of 33 well-equipped ski slopes, the highest of which is located at 2.755 meters above sea level. If you don't like skiing you can still walk among the lakes in one of the most spectacular mountain landscapes in Italy, which is covered with flower meadows when the snow melts.