Travels in Italy - Part 5 - Skiing in the Italian Alps and Dolomites

Skiing in Italy has to be one of life’s great pleasures. It is relatively easy of access with flights to Milan, Turin, Verona, Venice, Bergamo or Treviso - or you can fly to Innsbruck and travel south over the Brenner Pass from Austria. The slopes are immaculately kept, especially in the northern region of Alto Adige where the infrastructure is also excellent - and, it almost goes without saying, the food is fabulous!

On top of all that, you can combine skiing with stunning lakes or sublime cities - and, for me, the Dolomites have to be amongst the most beautiful mountains in the world.

The geological origin of the Dolomites is fossilised coral reefs which were formed during the Triassic Period (around 250 million years ago) by organisms and sedimentary matter at the bottom of the ancient tropical Tethys Ocean. Their eruption occurred when the African and European tectonic plates collided and the famous pink hue of the Dolomites at sunrise and sunset is due to the abnormally high levels of minerals that they contain. They are, quite simply, breathtaking. 

In summer the smooth green meadows contrast perfectly with the jagged outcrops of Dolomitic limestone, while in winter these same meadows form the perfect base for ski runs, without so much of the jagged shale of the Alps which can cause havoc with your skis if snow is a little thin on the ground. 

We first started skiing in the Dolomites back when we lived in Padova (Padua) in the early 1990s. It was so easy to drive up for a day or weekend’s skiing throughout the winter with our Italian friends - such a tonic after a hard-working week in the city - and we had organised to reconnect with those skiing mates, some 30 years down the line, to re-live all our yesterdays. 

And so we found ourselves in Cavalese as this was where two of our friends - brothers - had a family-owned apartment. We had skied there before but so many moons ago it was hard to recollect. After a day by ourselves, familiarising ourselves with the slopes, we had a rendez-vous the following day to meet the brothers and some other of our old friends at the top of the slopes. How extraordinary to see each other again after all these years! Had we changed? We liked to think not - but of course we had. Older, greyer, more wrinkled - but the twinkle in the eyes, the love of skiing, the personalities and the friendship were all still there in abundance. And what a joy it was to reconnect over that first beer and coffee around a wood-burning fire on a terrace at the top of a mountain with blue skies, sunshine and magnificent snowy vistas all around us. 


The next few days were filled with great conversation, delicious meals and many miles of pistes bashed at high speed (the Italians don’t do anything slowly!) from Cavalese to Cortina d’Ampezzo (the jewel in the Dolomites’ crown and host to next year’s Winter Olympics), and back again. We even squeezed in a trip up to the top of the Marmolada, an impressive glacier with spectacular views. The journey up by cable car is not for the faint-hearted - but oh my word is it worth it. We were blessed with more glorious sunshine and it was a true highlight of the trip to stand at the top and just drink in the panorama of snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see (see Reels on my Instagram account @in_spire_living)

After these special few days based in Cavalese, we moved on to Alta Badia and the ski resort of Corvara in the heart of the Dolomites and part of the famous Sella Ronda ski safari. This is one of our favourite places to ski, mainly due to the breathtaking scenery and the fabulous food - and you can even have tastings of local wines in participating ski huts! This is not somewhere for mad nightlife, but if nature is your thing, then this is the perfect place in which to immerse yourself in it. Buy a Superdolomiti ski pass and you can pop over to Selva in Val Gardena, Arabba or Kronplatz to name just a few other ski areas. 

I will leave you with a few images of these beautiful mountains to inspire you and leave you in awe of this beautiful planet we are so lucky to inhabit.


The bike shed said…
Italy is the most wonderful country and I think you’re right the ‘dollies’ are the best of the Alps. I have only taken up skiing in recent years, with mixed and at times deeply conflicting feelings - and yet, at its best it is so compelling - it has also transformed my attitude to winter, which previously I loathed… and that’s a sad way to spend such a large part of the year.
Carah Boden said…
Mark, lovely to hear from you. I have always loved mountains and always loved skiing. I first went to Aviemore in Scotland when I was 9 years old and haven’t looked back since - though I didn’t really get into it massively until I was 16. Two ski seasons followed (one in the Pyrenees, one in the Alps) and then four years in Italy where we skied all winter in both the Alps and Dolomites.

For me it is the most liberating and exhilarating sport - not least of all because it provides both physical and mental wellbeing. What better than to be sweeping down a mountain on a bluebird day with fresh snow and magnificent views! Food for the soul. And that’s without mentioning the mountain bars and restaurants and the apres-ski!!

I’m glad you’ve finally joined the tribe!

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