We were skiing for a week in Dolomites, Italian Alps, this winter. The high season is pretty crowded there. There was plenty of snow, sun and good weather. We liked the beautiful views and enjoyed skiing.
Val di Fassa and Sella Ronda
There are many more skiers than borders in Dolomites. We wonder why, because in similar resort, Mayrhofen, there were almost a half of borders at the same time.
Sella Ronda is a round route across several skiing areas in Dolomites. We took this route twice in both directions. Being very popular, Sella Ronda pistes become quite destroyed after midday. Maybe that is why we more liked ski tracks aside Sella Ronda.
Ski buses are quite convenient in the valley. However, they are always crowded with people in rush hours (9 am, 5 pm). There is also a long queue at the Canazei aerial tramway, Belvedere, every morning.
Marmolada is the highest mountain of the Dolomites. One of its peaks, Punta Rocca, can be reached by aerial tram. A long ski track from Punta Rocca down to the village is one of the best pistes in Dolomites.
The weather was nice all days excepting one. Once we were caught with a huge snowing at the glacier. It was quite a difficult descent with almost no visibility at all.
We lived in an Arnika Hotel *** apartment, which was of two rooms per 3 persons each. The best hotel feature was its location. We could take any ski bus from Belvedere to go back to our hotel after skiing. We also had free Wi-Fi (password can be requested from reception) and sauna. The closest supermarket is in 200 meters from Arnika Hotel on the way to the Chimpac aerial tram.
The strange thing was the hotel front door decorated with a flowerpot with rotten vegetables:
A church near the hotel:
Before World War I Bolzano was a part of the Austro-Hungarian county of Tyrol with prevalence of German speakers. At the end of the war Italy annexed the city and forcedly Italianized Bolzano following the special Mussolini program. Now Bolzano (Bozen) is the center of an autonomous Italian region called Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. Autonomy means the region has its own parliament and local laws. Two languages are official in Bolzano – Italian and German, spoken by 3/4 and 1/4 of inhabitants.
Bolzano is small and neat, with plenty of castles alongside the city. We walked down the river in the park, enjoying marvellous mountain views. We hadn’t been inside a castle, however, photographed them.
We noticed unusually many people walking with dogs:
Ancient castles are surrounded with large vineyards:
We couldn’t help buying a bottle of Italian wine:
Otzi the Iceman
We also visited the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which is famous for its Otzi the Iceman. It is Europe’s oldest natural mummy of a man lived 5000 years ago. Visitors are not allowed to take photos of mummy lying on the first floor of the museum. However, the rest exhibition is available for photographing. Otzi is saved in a special cell with unprecedented conditions. There is an alternate diesel generator, which can supply the first floor of the museum in case of blackout. There is also a redundant refrigerator cell in the museum and one more cell in Bolzano Hospital on case of emergency.
A large part of the museum is intended for interactive archaeological excursions for kids:
How to reach Bolzano from Canazei by bus? There is no direct bus to Bolzano, so one option is to make a change in Vigo. The detailed route:
1. Take a bus going to Vigo di Fassa (dark red buses). It stops on almost all ski bus stations, including Alba Piazza, Belvedere tramway, etc. The timetable is available on each stop. You can ask the driver of any bus going to Vigo or Cavalese.
2. You should tell the driver that you are going to Bolzano. After you arrive to Vigo, the driver will show you the next bus to Bolzano. The Canazei – Vigo trip costs 2,5 euros.
3. Bolzano buses are of the SAD company. The one-way trip from Vigo to Bolzano costs 6 euros.
The round-trip to Bolzano costs 17 euros. This route was kindly suggested by our hotel receptionist. As soon we asked, she gave us an earlier prepared sheet with all required information.
We spent about 41 760 rubles (~1050 euros) per person for the overall week trip 02/16 – 02/23, including visa (3300 rubles), tour (22 300 rubles), ski-pass (6 days, 254 euros = 10160 rubles), food (150 euros = 6 000 rubles). The tour included Moscow-Verona-Moscow charter flight, transfer and accommodation. We saved a lot of money on food mostly because we cooked breakfast and supper at home. On average we spent about 7.68 euros/day on indoor meal (with wine), and 17 euros/day on outdoor meal (lunch with soft drink) in mountains per person. We had our own skis, however, it is not a problem to rent a good pair of ski for 75 euros/week.
We liked skiing in Val di Fassa and enjoyed everything. I’d advise one to visit Dolomites at least once, to see those beautiful mountains by themself. I’d say the best piste is in Marmolada, good pistes are also in Ciampac and Pozza di Fassa. Good food is in almost all mountain self-service restaurants, excepting one at the second station of the tramway to Marmolada. Also, if you have options, I would not recommend to fly via Verona, because this airport is overloaded, especially in the high season, and very sluggish. As for money, we spent a thousand euros/person/week for all. Buying a tour or planning the whole trip individually does not make a great difference in expenditures, however the latter requires more time to prepare for travel. If you have no skis or snowboard, be ready to spend extra 50-75 euros for 6-days rent. You can save this money by having breakfast and supper meals at home.