Val Gardena is best known in ski racing circles as home to the Saslong Classic, a men’s World Cup downhill race, and long considered one of the five “classic” men’s downhill courses. Skiers can attempt a downhill run, or take a day to traverse the Sella Ronda, the ski circuit around the Sella mountain group. This circuit is a series of ski lifts and downhill runs, all linked together, by which you can circumnavigate the Sella group. You will visit the four Ladin valleys, and set foot in the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, and Belluno, and visit the four villages along the route – Val Gardena, Corvara, Canazel, and Arabba. Your traverse will take most of the day, as the length of the circuit is about 65km, but it is accessible to most skiers, as the downhill runs are groomed trails.
Val Gardena is a short drive from Bolzano and Bressanone, two larger towns in Alto Adige that offer a wide variety of apres ski activities and easy access to many ski resorts in the Dolomites, as well as north into Austria. The larger cities offer an abundance of choices in hotels and restaurants, as well as plenty of activities for non-skiers in the group, such as museums and numerous shops featuring everything from local handmade specialties to designer fashion.
For those that prefer to stay at or near the resort itself, a wide range of accommodations are available. At the top end is the Alpenroyal Grand Hotel. Luxurious guest rooms offer a splendid view of the nearby mountains. For those looking for relaxation after a long day on the slopes, the wellness facility includes an outdoors heated pool and whirlpool with yet another beautiful view of the Dolomites, a Finnish sauna in an outdoor hut in the park, a vapor bath, a biosauna and hay baths. Treatments are available as well, including a variety of massages, mud baths and ayurveda.
The Stube dining rooms at the Alpenroyal offer elegant, gourmet meals nightly; their cuisine has been noted in guides such as Michelin and Gambero Rosso. Complemented by an excellent wine cellar, they also feature tastings of locally produced cheeses and a wide selection of grappas. Plenty of other options are in town for the gourmet, including restaurants Anna Stuben, Concordia, and Mauriz Keller.
For those oenophiles interested in exploring the local wines, the nearby Valle Isarco DOC. With terraced vineyards along the banks of the Isarco River, between Bolzano and Bressanone, this region produces both whites such as Sylvaner, Veltiner, and Muller Thurgau and reds such as varietals Schiava and Lagrein, as well as blends such as Klausner Laitacher and Santa Maddalena. Producers to look out for include Abbazia di Novacella, Garlider, Hoandlhof, and Kuenhof – Peter Pliger. A nice rest day excursion would be a visit a few of these wineries along the Isarco River, with a local guide to do the driving for you!
Kathy Bechtel is Owner of Italiaoutdoors.