Val Comelico

Foto © Beatrice Perin

Val Comelico

In the very high Cadore, on the border between South Tyrol and Austria, lies the Val Comelico, a valley as small as it is enchanting.

“E di borgate sparso nascoste tra i pini e gli abeti tutto il verde Comelico”. “And of scattered villages hidden among the pine and fir trees all the green Comelico”. This is how Nobel prize winner Giosuè Carducci saw it, guest of these mountains, with an unmistakable and proper look consisting of immense fir woods alternating with green meadows, dotted here and there with houses and barns, an uninterrupted succession of villages, crowned by Dolomite peaks that form a panorama of rare beauty, like the wonderful Val Visdende.

Comelico is surrounded by Dolomite peaks of exceptional charm: the Popera Group, in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage area, with Cima Bagni, Cima Undici, Croda Rossa, Vallon Popera, the border ridge with Monte Cavallino and Peralba.

Do you want to start walking together through the wonders of Comelico?


Falling in love with Val Visdende

Participate in the “Maskarada”

Cross-country skiing in spruce forests

Following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II

Reaching the sources of the Piave River


Santo Stefano rises at the confluence of the Padola torrent in the Piave river and is the most important centre of Comelico. Besides the main town, the municipal territory includes the hamlets of Campolongo, Costalissoio and Casada and other smaller villages.

Santo Stefano is a tourist resort especially in summer and is the ideal base for walks, excursions and trips to the other towns and villages of Comelico; relaxing and enchanting are the itineraries along the left bank of the Piave river, towards Campolongo and on the right bank of the Padola torrent towards Casada and Campitello, among green meadows, at the edge of the woods, accompanied by the sound of the flowing water, or along the paths  that climb the slopes of the mountains that surround the village.


San Pietro di Cadore, located at 1038 meters above sea level, is halfway between Santo Stefano di Cadore and Sappada. This town is set among the mountains and surrounded by centuries-old woods and green meadows.

In San Pietro di Cadore you can visit the Villa Poli de Pol, one of the most spectacular residences in the province of Belluno, which was built in the seventeenth century by the family of the same name, which became rich thanks to the wood trade. This palace is the seat of the town hall and inside it preserves frescoes of considerable artistic value.

The parish of San Pietro Apostolo was founded in 1857 after the detachment from that of Santo Stefano. The church, which was originally in Gothic style and dates back to the thirteenth century, was renovated in the eighteenth century and inside preserves an altarpiece by Marco Vecellio.

The hamlets of San Pietro are Valle, Presenaio and Costalta.

Also part of San Pietro di Cadore is Val Visdende, the “Temple of God, the Hymn to the Creator” as Pope John Paul II consecrated it during his visit in July 1987.

Foto © Paola Zuffi


Comelico Superiore is the municipality located in the upper part of the valley and borders Austria and Val Pusteria, to which it is connected by the Monte Croce Pass. Comelico Superiore is made up of four villages: Padola, Dosoledo, Candide and Casamazzagno, and three villages that surround them, Sacco, Sega Digon and Sopalù.

Padola is the most important ski resort of Comelico. Padola is home to the Terme delle Dolomiti, whose waters boast therapeutic properties that have been known since ancient times. The local people have always used this natural resource. The project to build a thermal structure was born at the beginning of the 19th century, when the first scientific confirmations on the curative properties of the water arrived.

The church of S. Luca Evangelista, built between 1862 and 1869, is located in the square and contains works by Cesare Vecellio and Tomaso da Rin, two painters originally from Cadore, who lived in different periods.

In Dosoledo there is the “Algudnei” Museum: the name derives from the composition of several words (algu d’nei) that in the dialect spoken in the valley, means “something of us”. The museum is linked to the Cultural Research Group of Comelico Superiore and collects finds that testify and retrace the history of the valley.

The church of SS. Rocco and Osvaldo was built in 1844 and inside it preserves frescoes and works of considerable artistic value.

Candide is the oldest village and was rebuilt several times, in the same position, due to fires that devastated it. The church of Santa Maria Assunta boasts very ancient origins, but its present appearance dates back to the 18th century. The church of S. Antonio Abate was built by Mistro Nicolò Ruopel who signed himself “murador de Carnia”. In the centre of the village you can admire the Gera house, probably built between 1100 and 1200 and the magical Alpine Garden, an exhibition that winds along a stepped path, with wooden walkways for the view of the different floral species.

Along the path you can admire splendid and unique examples of rare flowers such as the meadow sage or the famous “queen of the Alps” or the lily of San Giovanni.

Casamazzagno is located on the slopes of Mount Spina and overlooks the village of Candide. Here you can admire the ancient church of San Leonardo, built in 1545 by Nicolò Ruopel, and the neoclassical church of San Leonardo, built in the centre of the village in 1870. The ethnographic museum “La Stua” documents local traditions and customs.

If you like the genre, we advise you not to miss the common event that brings together all the towns of Comelico: the “Maskarada”, the carnival that has a centuries-old tradition in this valley. Although the Council of Trento tried to suppress this festival, the carnival has always resisted and is a very heartfelt event: parties, parades, songs and dances accompany the typical masks of this area.


You may not know that only in a few woods of Val Comelico, Val di Fiemme and Tarvisio grows the Picea excelsa fissilis, the so-called “resonance fir”. A very rare species, it is used by luthiers all over the world to build the front of the sound box of many stringed instruments. The origin of the name “resonance” is to be found in the fact that in ancient times, when forest roads did not exist, the trunks were brought down to the valley by sliding them in channels properly called “risine” built in trunks and turned in the direction of maximum slope. During the journey, the logs, hitting the banks of the rice fields, emitted such vibrations that the woodcutters could tell whether the wood “sang” or made a dry and deaf sound that showed its different nature even though it was always precious wood but not specific resonance.


Cross-country skiing is the king of winter activities with the slopes of the Dolomiti Nordic Ski circuit, Europe’s largest cross-country skiing carousel with 1,300 km of trails. The trails stretch across the entire valley, passing through scenic or secluded corners, such as the spruce forest. Not bad for such a small valley!

Besides, if alpine skiing is always in your heart and you can’t do without it, then try going down the slopes of Padola – Ski Area Comelico, the only ski area in the valley.

Tens of kilometres of groomed trails for comfortable and suggestive walks on the snow or with snowshoes to get to know this splendid and uncontaminated valley of almost unreal quiet.

Foto © Roberta Carraro


If there is an ideal place to immerse yourself in nature, it is right here. On your feet, or on your bike, the Val Comelico is really an area to discover! From the villages, to the hiking trails, to the many huts in the valley, to the numerous via ferrata.



In Val Comelico you can ski in Padola, in a small ski area: two ski lifts guarantee fun for those who want to take the fun out of skiing in the snow. This area is very close to Sesto Pusteria in South Tyrol, connected by the Monte Croce Pass and for some time now there have been plans to annex the ski area of Padola to that of Monte Croce and then to the Drei Zinnen Dolomites ski area of Sesto.

In summer the snow leaves space for the many paths that run throughout the valley: the undisputed beauty of nature in this portion of the Dolomites will leave you breathless. There are trails for all levels, such as those leading to the Lunelli refuge or the Berti refuge, from which there are still splendid itineraries, such as the Creston Popera loop tour.

You will surely notice the countless testimonies of the passage of the Holy Father, John Paul II in this valley: Pope Wojtyla was a great mountain man and loved Comelico very much. He was a guest of the Lunelli and Berti refuges and celebrated many masses at high altitude. The passage of such a beloved person is still a fervent memory in the minds and words of the inhabitants. If you may like the idea, you too can walk the paths that saw the passage of the Pope, through the circuit “The Paths of the Pope”.

Val Comelico is also a stage of “Dolomites without borders”, the tour that unites the significant places of the Great War, the trenches and tunnels with 12 equipped routes of high mountaineering and historical value that develop between Italy and Austria, between Cadore, Val Comelico and Pusteria from the Tre Cime di Lavaredo to Val del Gail. A unique mountain path that crosses the area of the Dolomites and the Carnic Alps. A high-altitude route that combines long-distance trekking and climbing via ferrata.

Foto © Giuseppe Rifaldi


“The Temple of God, a hymn to the Creator” with these words John Paul II defined the valley between San Pietro di Cadore and Sappada: a remote place, far from the splendour of the emblazoned mountain resorts, where a mass was also celebrated by the Holy Father, to consecrate one of the purest of all the Dolomites. An uncontaminated valley, situated in the upper Veneto and preserved from mass tourism.

A curious name for this valley that can be traced back to the German “Wiese/Ende” or border camp, because beyond the crown of the Dolomites lies Austria.

There are many possibilities for trekking, with well signposted mule tracks that lead to enjoy uncontested views over the entire valley. One of them is the one that leads to Mount Peralba, where you can see the sources of the Piave river.

Suitable for families, Val Visdende will amaze you with its mountain huts and also in…winter! There are several routes for snowshoeing or ski mountaineering.


Did you know that many places in Cadore and Comelico are connected to each other through a network of paths? With the Cammino delle Dolomiti you can start from Auronzo di Cadore and reach Sappada passing through Comelico Superiore and the wonderful Val Visdende. A few days walking in the mountains we love the most! Not to be missed!