Winter Passions in South Tyrol: Beyond skiing
South Tyrol has 30 ski resorts suitable for all levels of skiing and the amazing Dolomiti Superski network, which provides access to 1,200 km of slopes offers something unique for both Alpine skiers and snowboarders. It is also perfect for cross-country skiers as it offers Dolomiti Nordicski, Europe's largest cross-country ski network with 1,300 km of incredible trails.
Every year, the region improves and modernises its equipment such as new ski lifts, hotel openings and original event initiatives. South Tyrol is considered a trailblazer for Alpine skiing, as well as being the largest manufacturers of ski lifts, snowmaking systems and snow groomers (such as TechnoAlpin, Leitner Ropeways, Prinoth and Demaclenko). Each company was established in South Tyrol and their headquarters are based in this region of the Italian Alps.
Good news for keen skiers - the winter season starts in mid-September in the Val Senales/Schnalstal valley at the foot of the glacier. Guests have until the end of April to enjoy 185 hectares of incredible ski slopes and admire the famous peaks Palla bianca/Weißkugel, Wildspitze and Similaun, which lies on the border between Austria and Italy. The Solda/Sulden ski resort opens at the end of October, while in the Dolomites, the season starts around the end of November until mid-April.
The Unique Experience of a South Tyrolean Winter
The Sellaronda circuit is well known beyond the Italian borders and it is one of the most impressive circuits in South Tyrol and the Italian Alps. This circuit offers a tour of the massif that can be completed in one day with a single package and this includes 40km of tracks, 26km of descents which links four different valleys. There is no need to take off your skis or ski a track twice! (In order to complete the circuit in one day, guests are advised to set aside six hours of skiing).
The Lagazuoi tour is much more than just a trip to the Dolomites; it is a testimony to the history of the First World War. Here from 1915 to 1917 a war over land ownership took place between the Austro-Hungarian and Italian troops. The circuit begins in the locality Armentarola/San Cassiano at 1,600m in which skiiers can reach by bus the pass of Falzarego (2,105 m). This is followed by a cable car which takes you to the summit at 2,800 meters. Before leaving, skiiers are advised to admire the 360-degree panorama of the Dolomite Peaks. The most beautiful descent is called the 'Armentarola', a 7.2 km long trail that finishes at the village, Sass Dlacia; where guests can experience a magical horse driven sled ride from the village to the ski lift!
Whether it is downhill skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing in South Tyrol - the region offers much more than perfectly snow-covered slopes, well-maintained cable cars and some of the best snow parks in Italy. This captivating corner of the Italian Alps also offers nearly 300 days of sunshine and fantastic activities both on and off the slopes, such as delicious food and wine tastings in authentic South Tyrolean huts dotted around the mountains.
Gourmet Skiing in the Heart of the Dolomites
South Tyrol is the most Michelin starred province in Italy and it is showcasing its cuisine, even on the slopes! The dolce vita and spectacular panoramas encapsulate the Dolomites and visitors are encouraged to enjoy every moment of their unique winter trip.
The Alta Badia Valley is particularly popular with ski and foodie enthusiasts, thanks to its vast ski area and the warm welcome from the locals, and not forgetting the breath-taking Dolomites panorama and gastronomic excellence of the valley. Alta Badia has three Michelin starred restaurants, including a three-star and two-star Michelin restaurants. From December to April, the Ski and Fun initiative (Sciare con gusto) combines nature, skiing and gastronomy by offering dishes created by top chefs in traditional mountain huts.
The South Tyrol culinary season officially begins in mid-December, beginning with the Gourmet Ski Safari event – top chefs bring haute cuisine to guests at 2,000 meters above sea water in the heart of the Dolomites. What’s more, throughout the winter season, the sommeliers on the slopes offer tastings to guests, accompanied by professional wine experts.
For the morning gourmands, the Las Vegas Lodge in San Cassiano offers a mountain breakfast. Guests will enjoy an exhilarating snowmobile ride to the lodge, followed by a delicious breakfast, consisting of only local products in tranquil surroundings. Guests will also have the chance to be the first on the slopes – even before the lifts open!
Authentic Christmas in the mountains
The inhabitants of South Tyrol are committed to their traditions, and according to many visitors, it is here that guests will enjoy the most beautiful Christmas markets. Visitors can enjoy the delicious smell of cakes and pastries as they explore the different markets.
From the end of November to the 6th of January, the traditional Christmas markets are held in the five cities of South Tyrol (Bolzano/Bozen, Bressanone/Brixen, Brunico/Bruneck, Merano/Meran and Vipiteno/Sterzing). The Christmas markets of South Tyrol are a certified Green Event with a focus on authenticity and sustainable development and only sell regional products, culinary dishes and local crafts.
The Advent initiative in the Alps (24.11 - 24.12) in the Sarentino/Sarntal valley showcases local crafts (wool and wooden objects), rustic specialties and typical to the valley: Alpine pine (pinus mugus) from which the essential oil is extracted and used for spa treatments or cosmetic products.
First held in the winter of 2013-2014, the San Candido/Innichen Christmas Market has been a must-see attraction every year since its conception. Christened ‘Christmas in the Dolomites’, the market’s appeal stems from its traditional values and warm authenticity, as well as the beautiful festive decorations hung around the square surrounding the Church of Saint Michael.
For a truly romantic winter experience, a magical Christmas market takes place every December around the beautiful Lake Braies/Pragser Wildsee, whilst at Lake Carezza/Karersee, at the bottom of the Latemar massif, visitors will discover enchanting lantern-shaped wooden huts, ice sculptures and regional produce.