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INDULGENT ADVENTURES - Travel, adventure and windswept dreams.

Skiing ‘Italian Style’ in the Dolomites


As friends, family and work colleagues are coming back from the Australian ski slopes and reporting great spring skiing, the temptation to follow them chasing the magic white powder is strong!  Instead, I think about our trip to the Dolomites, Italy in February, where we were introduced to skiing Italian style by Francesco and Melissa Candiani of Ombre Blu Unique Sailing Experiences. (OmbreBlu).

Francesco & Melissa, our wonderful friends in Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Francesco & Melissa, our wonderful friends in Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Selva di Cadore was our base.  It is a picture perfect Dolomiti mountain village. Francesco’s family have a holiday home on the mountain and they were able to organise a neighbour’s house for us (Thank you Anna!).  Selva is close to the Austrian border and the area has strong Austrian heritage and a unique dialect.  The architecture of the mountain houses and village layout reflects this mixed heritage, it is a truly special place. In ski season it is home to a curious blend of wealthy foreign tourists and the North Italian professional class who mix with multi generational locals living lives not so different to their grandparents and great-great grandparents.

We drove from Treviso to the Dolomites via the famous Prosecco Trail.  The delights of the region was amply enjoyed with an overnight stop in Valdobbiadene at Due Carpini  Agriturismo Due Carpini House and dinner at the attached excellent Salis Ristorante Enoteca Salis Restaurant.

A good excuse to drink lots of Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, Italy.

A good excuse to drink lots of Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, Italy.

The rooms in Due Carpini Salis House were modern with cutting edge bathrooms, yet comfortable, and each maximised the stunning views over the rolling hills filled with vineyards. We were lucky enough to see a light snow fall over the hills from the big bedroom windows providing a magic feel to an already special place.

The view from our room at Due Capriani, Valdobbiadene, Italy.

The view from our room at Due Carpini, Valdobbiadene, Italy.

A holiday is after all a holiday and no opportunity should be lost in your travels to stop and try the best restaurant in the area. Hence we arrived at Gigetto, Restaurant Gigetto, Miane for an early long degustation lunch. (The Italians know how to travel!) This is an amazing experience. The food was exceptional with each dish offering a different taste of the region. The attention to detail and presentation was also excellent. The service first class.

Delicate Degustation, Ristorante Gigetto, Maine, Italy.

Delicate degustation. Ristorante Gigetto, Maine, Italy.

Our experience started with appetisers and prosecco in the historic wine cellar. We felt very spoilt. The historic wine cellar is underground and accessed via a long stone tunnel.

Ristorante Gigetto Underground Wine Cellar, Maine, Italy.

Ristorante Gigetto’s underground Wine Cellar, Maine, Italy.

The cellar boasts a deep well with fresh spring water but it is the wine which is the star. 1600 or so bottles with Prosecco first and foremost. It is full of history. It was very hard to leave and continue the journey. A definite must return one day.

Some wines are too valuable to share! Ristorante Gigetto, Wine Cellar, Maine, Italy.

Some wines are too valuable to share! Ristorante Gigetto, Wine Cellar, Maine, Italy.

It was late when we arrived in Selva. We were very glad of Francesco’s driving experience and the newly purchased four-wheel drive (yes its a Jeep!) as he safely navigated through the snow and ice on the steep mountain roads…

Anna's House, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites Italy.

Anna’s house, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites Italy.

Our house was a surprise – a 400 year old traditional mountain hut.  It was four stories, with the top level closed to us, the entrance level containing kitchen, living and massive balcony overlooking the snow covered hills and village, the mid-level had two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the bottom level was the original barn, converted to a party room with a massive fireplace and traditional seating.

Our 400 year old party room, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Our 400 year old party room, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

The house was essentially a living museum, furnished with gorgeous historical artefacts, an amazing alternate-foot steep staircase (beware that last drink before going downstairs to bed!), and gorgeous hand-painted doors throughout.  Unfortunately the bedding also belonged in a museum, and our ski jacket’s ended up doubling as a pillows.

The very special one step hand carved stairs, Anna's House, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

The very special one step hand carved stairs, Anna’s house, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

We awoke to surreal vista of falling snow and snow laden fir trees.

Magical Vistas, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

So much snow in Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

It snowed heavily all through our first day, so we used the day to organise our ski gear, shop and visit the closest pub for lunch.  Melissa, (surprisingly 🙂 ) was on first name basis with the owner and every patron.  I discovered that my Italian was useless for working out which is the ladies’ bathroom in the mountains – I guessed, and guessed wrong 🙁

Apres Ski, Selva Di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Apres ski, Selva Di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

The next day dawned clear blue and utter magic, with the sun shining off the snow coating every surface.

Beautiful vista's at Selva di Cadore, Bolomites, Italy.

Beautiful vistas in Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Picking up our skis we headed up the chairlift, then stepped off into snowy paradise.  If you have only skied in Australia or New Zealand, forget every image you have.  The Dolomites are higher, colder, and utterly majestic.

Skiing the trail, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Another world, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

They have skied here for centuries, and there are miles upon endless miles of perfect runs, with fast modern chair lifts, gondolas, good restaurants dotted across the slopes, and deep, crisp dry snow that squeaks beneath your skis.

Picture perfect skiing at Selva di Cadore, Bolomites, Italy.

Picture perfect skiing at Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

They have a multitude of runs (80 km worth, with 25 lifts!), so that you can ski here for a week and barely do a single run twice if you don’t want to. Dolomite Ski Region

Skiing paradise, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Skiing paradise, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

And if you get bored with all of that (how could anyone?!?), you can drive 15 minutes to the near side of Passo di Giau (on the road to Cortina d’Ampezzo), ski all morning then have a long late lunch at the lovely Ristorante da Aurelio www.da-aurelio.it.

Schnitzel at Da Aurillio's, Dolomites, Italy.

Schnitzel at Da Aurillio’s, Dolomites, Italy.

The day that we had booked Ristorante da Aurelio was quite windy and extremely cold, so we indulged in a sleep-in and lazy morning and took a cab to the restaurant to meet our somewhat chilled but happy post-skiing friends.  On a sunny day you can eat on the balcony, with views forever, but we ate inside in the warmth, and we had a wonderful meal.

a minus 12 day, icey and cold, perfect for a long lunch at Da Aurillio's, Dolomites, Italy.

A minus 12 day, icey and cold, perfect for a long lunch at Da Aurillio’s, Dolomites, Italy.

Italians bring their own unique relaxed style to skiing.  Instead of a cappuccino after your second or third run at 10:30 AM, you have a spritz (with a snowball instead of ice).  A good lunch with wine is considered essential, and a couple of grappas are required before you ski the home slope at the end of the afternoon.

Francesco & DC, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Grappas with Francesco in Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Late afternoon run after grappa, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

Late afternoon run after grappa, Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

And then of course, a shower, apperitivo hour, and the party begins…  Us poor Australians could not maintain the pace…

Melissa & Brig enjoying a cheese wheel and some Prosecco in Cortina, Italy.

Melissa & Brig enjoying a cheese wheel and more prosecco in Cortina, Italy.

In northern Italy, looking good on the slopes is just as important as the skiing, the good food, and the grappa, so our stay in Selva di Cadore had to include a drive over Passo di Giau to Cortina d’Ampezzo for shopping (and the obligatory fantastic lunch).

Melissa enjoying a post lunch rest, el Brite de Larieto, Cortina, Italy.

Melissa enjoying a post lunch rest, el Brite de Larieto, Cortina, Italy.

Our lunch this time was at a working farm: el Brite de Larieto, with most of the produce and meat sourced from the farm – yet another unforgettable experience.  www.elbritedelarieto.it

Truffle gnocci exceptional,

Truffle gnocchi at el Brite de Larieto, Cortina, Italy.

We had a week in Selva di Cadore, but we need at least three, if not four.  Or five.  We never made it to Rifugio Laganzuoi, with its utterly breathtaking views over the Dolomites www.rifugiolagazuoi.com.  We didn’t manage to fit in the famous Sella Ronda ski circuit, a 40 km ski circuit (yes, a 40 km downhill circuit, you read it right!).  With bars and restaurants at convenient intervals along the way…  Nor did we find time for the Giro della Grande Guerra (the Great War circuit), which is 82 km.  This circuit requires a 1.5 km horse-drawn sleigh assist! We also missed the more visited places in the Dolomites – Trento, Rovereto, Bolzano and Otzi the Iceman!

The view to the next village from Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

The view to the next village at dusk from Selva di Cadore, Dolomites, Italy.

While the temptation to book a long weekend at Thredbo or Perisher is strong, on reflection,  I think we will save our pennies and book the next trip to Selva di Cadore.  Soon!!

Enrosadira. The heart of the Dolomites at Sunset. Dolomites, Italy.

And finally – Enrosadira. The pink heart of the Dolomites at sunset. Dolomites, Italy.

 

 


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