These out of the way retreats can only be reached on foot – but the reward for your efforts is a warm welcome and a chance to rest weary legs in spectacular surroundings
Rifugio Lagazuoi is like a sentinel 2,750m above the spires and green valleys of northern Italy, offering not only panoramic views from its sprawling terrace but also the highest sauna in the Dolomites. Expect hearty local cuisine – such as polenta with roe deer – and a warm welcome from members of the Pompanin family, who have run this walk-in retreat since its construction in 1965. History buffs take note: the refuge is a quick walk away from a vast network of trenches and tunnels dug out by Italian forces during the first world war and restored in the late 1990s as an open-air museum.
Rifugio Lagazuoi is on the summit of Mount Lagazuoi halfway between the resorts of Cortina d’Ampezzo and Alta Badia. It claims the highest point along the 120km Alta Via 1 walking route, which runs through the Dolomites from the emerald green Lake Braies to the historic city of Belluno. Bus transfers to the region are available from the airport in Venice 180km to the south.
• Rooms from €42pp, bunks from €30pp, rifugiolagazuoi.com. Open Dec-March, June-Oct; minimum 2 hours trekking time