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Driving Tour of Northern Italy

The lobby of Matteo Thun’s Terme Merano hotel.

Photo: Courtesy of Terme Merano

Day 3: Merano to Cortina d’Ampezzo (82 miles)

Just south of Merano, hop on the E45 north to the S242, passing the emerald-green Val Gardena valley and into Corvara. This mountain town is chockablock with German-influenced chalets and bordered by the jagged peaks of the Dolomites. At the rustic La Tambra (2 Sassongher Strasse; 39-0471/836-281; lunch for two $40), local meats are the house specialty: Try the pork cheeks in a red-wine reduction and the beef carpaccio. Continue toward the skiing village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, where hikers come to scale the town’s sheer spires of limestone. You can explore the craggy outcroppings via the moderate Sentiero Ivano Dibona trail, which has a network of ladders and ropes to make climbing easier. Cortina has several top-notch lodges, but the newly renovated Grand Hotel Savoia (62 Via Roma; 39-0436/3201; grandhotelsavoia.it; doubles from $490), with its rich wood-paneled rooms and contemporary furnishings, is the most impressive.

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