The Italian Alps are often written off in favor of their more glamorous neighbors, not to mention competition from the rest of Italy. But there are plenty of wonders to be found south of the alpine hotspots of Switzerland and France.
10. There are waterways galore.
Northern Italy is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the country. On Lake Braies, there's plenty of fishing, and it's possible to rent antique boats for a turn around the water. The Dora Baltea is one of the wildest rivers in the Alps, and a white water rafting ride here will get your adrenaline pumping. For something even more spine-tingling, slide down mountain sides and experience beautiful waterfalls while canyoning in the Aosta Valley, just be sure to hire a guide.
9. The trails are some of the best in the region.
Trekking in the Italian Alps is a one-of-a-kind experience. The Piedmont region is home to some of the best hikes in the country, and the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso is full of lakes and peaks for everyone from the novice to the advanced hiker. The Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti di Sesto is also not to be scoffed at. These toothy mountains will wow even the most experienced outdoorsman. Mountain biking is also available, with the best trails found in Sauze d'Oulx and Bardonecchia
8. This is not the place for delicate pasta.
Heavier smoked meats and cheeses pair well with the Alpine weather here. Cuisines are shared across the entire border region, blending with Slovenia, Austria, Germany and France. But each part of Northern Italy has its own signature flair. Bready, cheesy zuppa valdostana, fondue, and gnocco gigante (giant dumplings) are just some of the delicious mountain fare you'll find here, and they go perfectly with a hearty red wine from the Piedmont region.
7. It's rich in culture and history.
Just like food, the culture and history of this region is closely tied to that of its neighbors. This incredible blend of cultures is part of what makes this area so incredible. Its isolation from the rest of the country due to the mountainous terrain distinguishes it from Italy as a whole. Religious processions are common and a great way to see the region's traditional dress.
6. There are natural wonders besides just mountains.
Reaching out of the ground like teeth, the Earth Pyramids near Renon are spectacular, strange formations made by piles of clay deposits. You can spot quite a few of them around the region, although these are considered the originals.