Skiing the Sella Ronda

Skiing the Sella Ronda

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

With the Alps so close and easily accessible, it’s no wonder people take advantage of the incredibly long skiing seasons and the opportunity for epic winter vacations while stationed in Germany. Starting as early as October, skiing and snowboarding buffs can head to various places throughout Europe for some quality time spent racing downhill. If you haven’t already planned your Christmas break vacation, get on it! Hotels book up incredibly quickly and now is the time to get organized. Overwhelmed by the sheer volume of places you can go? Consider skiing the Sella Ronda, a large circular ski route that loops around the Sella mountain range in the Dolomites.  

Located in northeastern Italy, the Dolomites offer rocky peaks, thick forests and snow-capped mountains with an absolutely breathtaking landscape. Skiers and snowboarders can set a goal of completing the Sella Ronda circuit, which is over 24 miles long and includes four passes and four valleys. The circuit offers the perfect opportunity to take in the sheer beauty of the area. The entire circuit is rated as medium-high level difficulty, so only skiers with who are physically fit and have a good knowledge of skiing should attempt this daring feat. It takes about one and a half hours to ski all of the runs consecutively but calculate an additional two hours spent on the lifts because you’ll want to stop for breaks at the various huts and lodges along the way for a hot drink or a cold beer. Altogether, you should plan on spending at least five to six hours making your way around this loop.

There are four main starting points to access the Sella Ronda loop, all of which are connected by numerous lift stations. Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Arabba and Val di Fassa can be used as a base for starting your skiing adventure. All of the runs can be accessed with one convenient ski pass, the Dolomiti Superski, which can be purchased online. The circuit can be skied in two directions; orange signs will direct skiers in a clockwise circuit, while green signs will direct skiers in a counter-clockwise circuit.

After an exciting day of skiing your heart out, head to Bar Saltos in Val Gardena for some après-ski activities. The party really starts when the sun goes down, and here you’ll find no shortage of music and dancing in a modern style mountain hut. Starting Dec. 1, Bar Saltos will host an après-ski party with live music on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. Saturday nights will feature a DJ performing at 9 p.m. Grab some food and drinks and get ready for a good time!

For those looking for a little more mellow evening, there are several small inns, pubs, rustic farms and cosy huts where you can enjoy fresh local food paired with fantastic wine. Runch farm, located in Badia, is a great place to try homemade ladin cuisine. This 200-year-old farm is family owned and just waiting to roast some food in their wood stove for you to enjoy. You’ll find items like barley soup with smoked pork, ravioli and goulash on their menu. Of course, you’ll want to finish the night with some apple pancakes topped with ice cream. Don’t forget to make a reservation before you head to this lovely restaurant!  

There is more to do in the Sella Ronda area than just skiing and eating. In the Fassa Valley (Val di Fassa) there is a great indoor water park called Aquapark Vidor that is perfect for families. Surrounded by majestic mountains, this center has swimming pools, slides, a beauty center, a gym, an indoor bar and various areas to just relax and take in the views. Book a Turkish bath if you feel like pampering yourself or join in the fun and go down one of the three water slides.

Christmas market fans take note! There are winter wonderlands (markets) in Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva that last through the end of December. For the most magical experience, venture to the markets and shop at rustic wooden stalls selling regional products and specialty foods. Twinkling lights, mulled wine, snow crunching underfoot, a mountainous background and the smell of sweets wafting through the air are sure to make this a ski trip to remember.

Between the ski circuit, food options, indoor water park and Christmas markets, what more could you ask for out of a ski vacation? Pack up your boots, mittens, hats, jackets, snow pants and ski gear and get ready to have the time of your life! What better time to visit the Dolomites than while the spirit of Christmas is thriving? Check the Sella Ronda circuit off your skiing bucket list this winter. You can worry about your next destination after the holiday is over while you are desperately trying to lose that cookie weight by running on the treadmill!

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