Ski Independence PR Roger Ainger has just returned from the beautiful resort of San Cassiano in Italy where he took in a few days skiing the Sud Tyrol’s Dolomiti Superski area. Here he puts together a few words and images to show off this fabulous, welcoming and gastronomic destination.
In about 30 years of skiing, I had thought that I had tried most ways of getting up the mountain without straining the thigh muscles. From low speed, one person chairs through to high-speed 6 packs, button lifts, rope tows, T-bars, gondolas, cable cars, aerial trams, surface trains, under the mountain trains – I have ridden them all. Now for the first time I have used a two horse power lift. However, I get ahead of myself – more of this later…
I have just returned from a wonderful skiing trip to the Sud Tyrol – that part of Italy that is never entirely sure if it is in Italy or Austria. Everybody speaks both German and Italian plus of course the obligatory English. Many as well speak Ladin, but if you are thinking of adding another language to your skills be aware that Ladin is spoken only in a handful of valleys in this part of the world!
Getting to the Sud Tyrol
I flew into Venice on British Airways from London Gatwick. Venice: one of the world’s most iconic cities and also one of my very favourites. However, both on landing and take-off it was shrouded in mist so not so much as a glimpse of this iconic destination. On the way in, we were informed by the Captain that on account of the low cloud, the plane was going to land itself: a selfless act of self-declared redundancy. The plane did good. Not so much as a bump on touch down. Shall we ever see the Captain again?
The journey to San Cassiano takes about two and a half hours from Venice. On the way, there wasn’t much snow to be seen – perhaps on account of the enshrouding mist! – what would the slopes be like, I wondered – just the odd ribbon of white decorating a green background? I need not have worried. Although there has been relatively little snow this season in Italy, the snow-making in the Dolomiti Superski is second to none. Where I had been expecting ribbons, I was presented with a huge area of wonderful skiing. The whole area – and it is a very large area – was open with great conditions. To add to the joy, it also snowed whilst I was there.
Staying in the Sud Tyrol
I stayed at the 5-star Rosa Alpina Hotel in the village of San Cassiano. It is just a few minutes from the Piz Sorega gondola and regular shuttles take you to and from the hotel. It is a member of the Relais and Chateaux group and is the perfect base for a skiing holiday in the Sud Tyrol. It is also the home of the two Michelin starred St. Hubertus restaurant. The dishes of its chef – Norbert Niederkofler – can also be sampled at the Bioch Hut at 2,079ms.
‘Sciare Con Gusto’
Speaking of food, I had gone to the Sud Tyrol not only to ski, but also to sample the region’s gastronomy in the numerous mountain huts scatted throughout the area. No less than 14 international master chefs have provided dishes that are prepared in mountain huts (don’t think sheds) throughout the area. The programme is called A Taste For Skiing (‘Sciare Con Gusto’) and for the past 10 years the Alta Badia area has showcased the best cuisine that ski resorts around the world have to offer – from the Sommet restaurant at The Alpina Gstaad, the Griggeler Stuba in Lech-Zurs in Austria to Grill Le Cervin at the Hotel Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt. Amongst others, I tried the “heirloom carrot and cauliflower steak with braised Brandt beef” at Jimmy’s Hut. This dish was conceived by Matt Zubrod at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado. Jimmy’s is located at 2,222 metres and of course has stunning views of the spectacular Dolomites. Needless to say, a wonderful selection of local wines is available at each hut to complement the food.
The problem in the morning is you have to plan not only the skiing but also the on-mountain dining. It’s tough, but the hard work is amply rewarded! To do the Taste For Skiing programme justice you would need to stay for two weeks, or perhaps make two 7 day visits. So much to decide – so much to enjoy:
Two Horse Power
I was forgetting – the two horse power lift! After descending from the summit of Lagazio at 2,778m down to the Hidden Valley – having lunched at the delightful Scotoni Hut (above – great value on-mountain drinks!) on the way down – we arrived at a relatively flat area. Here the choice is to take the bus service to the main lift system or the horse drawn lift, also known as the Pferdedienst. It is literally two horse power, as you are towed behind the horses hanging on to a rope that is dragged behind them. It’s not fast, it’s not furious, it’s not a white knuckle ride but perhaps it does some up the charm of the Alta Badia region!
To arrange your very own Italian ski holiday this winter, skiing the Sud Tyrol or other resorts in the Dolomites, simply get in touch with our team of Ski Specialists. You can call them on 0131 243 8097 or request a tailor-made quotation online