What to do, where to go? If you want to practice windsurfing, kitesurfing, paragliding, mountain biking, sport fishing, ski mountaineering and play golf all on the same holiday you have only one place to go: Alpago and Cansiglio, with the Santa Croce lake. Do you want to start with a relaxing sport? Pian del Cansiglio has one of Europe's most beautiful 18 hole high altitude golf courses. Many international tournaments take place on this course, that is surrounded by lush green meadows and woods, and has a unique morphology and a peculiar trail.
The heart of your summer sport holiday however will be the Santa Croce lake.
Here the light breeze that blows constantly is perfect for windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing. Thanks to this peculiarity and the many events attracting a lot of water sport lovers from all over Europe, the lake is a famous and crowded destination: here take place Optimist and Laser classes sailing regattas, and national and international clubs meetings, when the lake is used for training. If you are a beginner or simply want to know more about these sports, there are two kitesurfing schools near the campsite, one windsurfing school and the local division of the Italian Naval Association. Professional instructors will teach you how to kitesurf, windsurf and sail like the great champions; or you can simply choose to explore the lake on a rowing boat, canoe or kayak.
Fishermen regularly come to the lake, especially near the hamlet of Poiatte, where there is a boat hire. At sunrise, before the wind starts to blow, the fishermen sail through the waters of the lake attracted by its many hidden treasures: carps, pikes, perches, trout, eels, and the samperiol, a fish you can find only in these waters. If you are looking for a more relaxing holiday the beach of Farra, fully equipped with deck chairs, beach umbrellas and beach toys for children, and the beach of Poiatte await you. From the beach you can admire the colourful sails dancing in the air, or watch the paragliding and hang gliding competitions, both European and international, that here take place. If you want to feel the thrill of flying, the national paragliding school is there waiting for you.
The mountain bike trails are appealing and diversified: they range from simple trails for the whole family to the most challenging ones, through the villages of the basin or up the surrounding mountains and the Cansiglio plateau. For example in Lamosano, in the municipality of Chies d'Alpago, there is a cross-country trail where often international races take place. The whole area is also perfect for horse riding and trekking. In winter the steep sides of the mountain peaks, covered with snow, offer many ski mountaineering routes where important events, some of them even international, take place.
The valleys and slopes are perfect for other winter sports: snowshoeing; Alpine skiing on not too difficult slopes; cross country skiing on trails that go into the Cansiglio forest; and with the instructors of the dog sledding school you can practice dog sledding or learn skijoring, a type of cross-country skiing where the skier is pulled by dogs.
Alpago: its cuisine, its municipalities
These mountains and valleys of quietness and uncontaminated nature are unobtrusively interrupted by villages, houses and facilities trying to merge with the surrounding environment. The area has five municipalities: Puos, Tambre, Chies, Pieve and Farra. Each municipality has several hamlets which maintained their ancient building structure, with stone houses and crowstep gables, and their culinary tradition, made of dishes like the s'ciosèle, mountain snails that served with the bisata, the eel, become the typical dish of the Christmas Eve dinner, or the famous Alpago lamb. Another typical dish is fish served with young cheeses, ripe cheeses, and ricotta cheeses, all produced following tradition in the malghe, typical alpine summer houses, and in the Tambre-Spert-Cansiglio Plateau dairy and agriculture centre. At the end of the meal you can try wild berries and liqueurs.
Every hamlet has something to tell, something to show: the Natural History Museum and the Sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Chies; the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Runal and the natural oasis of the Santa Croce lake in Farra; the archaeological site of Pieve d'Alpago; the Alchemist's House Museum, the Cimbran village and the House of Books in Tambre.
The Cansiglio forest: the "bosco da reme" of San Marco
The Cansiglio forest was once the "Bosco dei dogi", a timber reserve for the dockyard of the Serenissima fleet of Venice. Today it's a basin-shaped karst plateau attracting tourists thanks to its large forest, the second in Italy for extension, surrounded by lush green meadows and malghe. In this forest grow beeches, European silver firs, larch and birches, among which hide many animal species.
Many are the places you should visit to fully understand this area, with its history and characteristics: the Alpine Botanical Garden, the Zanardo Ecological Museum and the Cimbran villages of Vallorch and le Rotte. This ancient population of German origin arrived on the Cansiglio plateau from the Asiago plateau to became woodcutters and craftsmen. Today there is still an ethnic minority recognized by the Veneto Region.