The Village of Ortisei

February 5, 2007 by  
Filed under features

Imagine a skiing circuit where you can spend our entire day hopping from slope to slope, while at the same time slicing through some of the best powder to found in the Dolomite region of Northern Italy. The area in question is called the “Sella Ronda” circuit and quite simply, its offers some of the best slopes you’ll ever lay a pair of skis on.

The Sella Ronda (also known as the “Dolomite Superski”) — is an intense, yet pleasurable skiing venture that you can accomplish in a day if you put your mind to it. It covers a 50 kilometre circuit that translates into an amazing network of nearly 1200 kilometres worth of “pistes” (slopes), served by over 450 ski lifts. Ski runs range from difficult (10%) to medium (60%) to easy (30%) so there’s no reason why no one can’t go out and have the time of their lives regardless of skill level.

There are many towns along the way that allow you to pick up the Sella Ronda. One of the most accessible may be the town of Ortisei (1236m) — one Italy’s most prominent ski resorts. Famous for its own set of slopes but more well-known for its great proximity to other ski areas via a free “ski-express bus”, Ortisei is worth your consideration.

Ortisei is actually part of a network of villages ( San Cristina, Selva Gardena and Ortisei) that makes up the “La Val Gardena” (the garden valley), the most popular and well-known skiing area in the Dolomite Region of Alto Adige. The Val Gardena offers over 176 kilometres of downhill ski runs and nearly 100 kilometres of cross-country or “open” ski runs. There 84 ski lifts, and services over 100,000 individuals every season.

Speaking of which, the 2006 ski season officially kicks off on December 2nd and wraps up on April 20, 2007. In order to get from “point A to point B” it’s advisable that skiers take advantage of the Dolomite Skipass (which can be purchased for periods lasting from 1 to 28 days), and which will get you to all ski areas in and around Ortisei and Selva Gardena. A free skibus makes pickups every 15 minutes, and tickets are only 3 euro per week. (Be warned that trying to ride the bus without a paid and validated ticket will result in fines handed out by plainclothes “ski police”).

All that skiing is going to make you want to relax at some point during the day or night, and Ortisei and the surrounding area won’t disappoint. There are 15 “baitas” spread out among the slopes where skiers can relax with some spiced wine, peel out of their ski suits and get some sun or re-fuel with a good meal.

Ten nightclubs and over 20 restaurants round out your itinerary, which means that between skiing all day and partying all night you’ll have very little time left over! And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

A few words about Ortisei: certainly one of the most beautiful in the Val Gardena, Established in the 17th century, Ortisei is well known for it’s woodwork and handcrafts, which are painstakingly created during the long winter months and then exported throughout Italy and beyond during the rest of the year. Conveying small town sensibilities with modern shopping pleasures, Ortisei — it’s safe to say — has a little something for everyone. The Val Gardena Museum and many of the Gardens in around the area are worthy of your time, that’s IF you can pry yourself off the slopes.

Ortisei and the Val Gardena area are easily reached from cities throughout Italy: Bolzano 40 km… Verona 190 km… Milan 300 km… Rome 700 km… Venice 250 km… Salzburg 320 km… Innsbruck 120 km… Monaco 300 km… and Zurich 420 km.