Skiing & Snowshoeing Holidays in the Italian Dolomites

Skiing, Snowshoeing & Winter Walking Holidays in Europe’s most majestic mountains
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Eating out on the mountain is one of the Dolomites most treasured features. The locals take the food and drink at least as seriously as the winter sports. With many people coming to the Alta Badia area to enjoy gourmet ski safaris and the ever popular ‘sommelier on the slopes’, the Dolomites have forged a niche as one of the alps most gastronomic regions.

Travelling the region, it’s not hard to see, or rather taste, why. With no less than three Michelin starred restaurants in the Alta Badia alone, all drawing inspiration from the areas unique cuisine and stocking an ample supply of local wines, the Ladino kitchen offers a fabulous fusion of Austrian, Italian and Alpine cooking. Some of the dishes have become the height of cool, such as the Cortina classic, Casunziei all’Ampezzana; beetroot ravioli with melted butter, ricotta and poppy seeds. Most have their roots in the traditional peasant food of the Ladin people, with a limited larder but plentiful wild herbs and flowers, triumphing through adversity birthed much of the food here.

Family Skiing Holidays with Collett's Family Skiing Holidays with Collett's
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
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Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites - Kaiserschmarm Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites - Kaiserschmarm
Rifugio Accommodation for Ski Safaris in the Dolomites Rifugio Accommodation for Ski Safaris in the Dolomites
Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
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Hut to Hut Hikes and treks in Italy Hut to Hut Hikes and treks in Italy
Hut to Hut Hikes and treks in Italy Hut to Hut Hikes and treks in Italy
Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris Private & Gastronomic Ski Safaris
Rifugio Accommodation for Ski Safaris in the Dolomites Rifugio Accommodation for Ski Safaris in the Dolomites
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Chalet Verena Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's Chalet Verena Corvara - Walking Holidays with Collett's

Perhaps the greatest pleasure is to be found dining in the many ‘rifugi’ or mountain huts dotted around the mountains. Most offer stunning sun terraces from which the watch the light change to characteristic late afternoon pink on the dramatic rock towers of the Dolomites whilst enjoying some of the local dishes and drinks.

Prepare to loosen your belts, if not the purse strings, as the food in the mountain restaurants here remains remarkably good value when compared to many winter destinations. Pizza is uniformly between 6 and 14 euros depending on the toppings, pasta dishes around the same, with the accompanying 0.5l beer priced between 4 and 5 euros.

Skiing becomes a means of transport, the method by which you move from one rifugio to the next. For a snowshoer, these kind of meals, hearty and filling, are exactly what you want when a mountain pass is what you had to cross to get there.

Make sure you sample everything from our menu below!

Food

Casunziei all’Ampezzana: perhaps the star of the show; beetroot ravioli with melted butter, ricotta and poppy seeds; unique in both appearance and flavour.

Speck: cured raw pork, cold smoked and flavoured with spices such as juniper. Speck from South Tyrol is enjoyed across Italy.

Tris di Canderli: a trio of Ladin style bread dumplings made with bread, milk, eggs and flour and flavoured with spinach, mushrooms and strong cheeses along with the ever-present speck.

Zuppa d’orzo: a creamy soup of barley and speck, often enjoyed with Turtres, savoury pancakes stuffed with spinach and deep fried to the point of crispiness.

Spatzle: mini gnocchi, cooked with speck, spinach, cream and a healthy sprinkle of parmesan is the pasta of the Alta Badia.

Shlutzkrapfen: Casunciei in Badia Ladin, half-moon ravioli filled with spinach and covered in a rich butter sauce.

Kaiserschmarrn: the famous Austrian dessert is equally at home in Sued Tyrol, chopped pancakes served with jam, apple sauce and sugar.

Apfelstrudel: another Austrian classic, apple strudel with vanilla sauce is prepared in the Dolomites with a thicker cake-like pastry and often contains pine nuts.

Drink

Spritz Aperol: ubiquitous Italian aperitivo. Bright orange in colour with a refreshing bitter taste, the popularity of the Spritz has travelled to many fashionable bars across the UK but can be found for between 3 and 4 Euros across the Dolomites.

Hugo: a cousin of the more common Spritz, the Hugo is a sweet and delicate blend of Prosecco, elderflower, mint and lime.

Bombardino: the statement post-ski drink, bright yellow and topped with cream, Bombardino is made with advocaat and brandy and won’t fail to warm you up for the last run down.

With the sun out and the weather beginning to warm from the cold snap experienced in the Dolomites throughout early January and the super snowfall in early February, the attention of many of the visitors to the Alta Badia area turned to the numerous rifugios and their inviting sun terraces. The Dolomites are blessed by not only extensive pistes but fantastic natural beauty. With UNESCO world heritage status, these unique mountains provide a glorious backdrop to any winter holiday in the Dolomites. The ability to enjoy the staggering panoramas on display from the comfort of a refuge, taking a moment to pause from the adrenaline of skiing or to take an extended rest from a snowshoe walk to stare at the view, is a real highlight to the area.

These moments of calm and comfort are added to greatly by the rifugios themselves, and there are plenty of them, hardly a run goes by without passing one of these refuges, and many of our snowshoe itineraries pass at least one. In many ways, the word refuge does these mountain huts a disservice, by and large they are mountain restaurants with table service and all the luxury of the restaurants in the villages themselves. The buildings are wooden clad and in keeping with the alpine feel, inside clean and modern facilities belie the relative remoteness of the locations. In fact, the rifugios are so many and by piste and lift so accessible that the logistical difficulty in building and maintaining the building let alone serving fantastic piping hot food to hungry skiers and passing snowshoe groups is all but forgotten.

Experience great food and drink at these idyllic Italian mountain Rifugios

Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
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Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites - Kaiserschmarm Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites - Kaiserschmarm
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites
Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites Rifugios and Food in the Dolomites

The food and drink, as it does across Italy, comes with a smile and without the excessive price tag associated with many Alpine resorts. From hearty pasta and polenta to grilled meats and charcuterie platters, famous drinks such as Spritz Aperol and Hugo, the cuisine itself deserves and will receive a blog post of its own. For now, it’s time to head outside for some genuine indulgent relaxation in the heart of the mountains.

Want to experience the food and Rifugios for yourself? Join us on a Winter Holiday with Collett’s.

Visiting the Dolomites in winter is not just about the activities on offer, whether you choose snowshoeing, skiing or anything else. Visitors here are drawn by the moutains, unique towering shapes of rock, impossible faces and jagged pinnacles.

Staying in Rifugio Lagazuoi, one of the Dolomites highest rifugios at 2752m, you begin to get a sense of the drama of the scenery here. The orange and pink hues of the rock are undoubtedly at their most spectacular at sunrise and sunset, and to be able to observe the ‘enrosadira’ or alpenglow from such a viewpoint is a unique privilege. Watching the whole process unfold with a view from Antelau in the Ampezzo valley to the South-East to Sas Rigais and the Val Gardena to the North-West, you are struck by the scale, each individual mountain its own unique, beautifully coloured, shape against the deep blue sky. Taking it all in is impossible, lasting only a few minutes, replaced by the bright day or the crystal clear night.

A night at Rifugio Lagazuoi – 2,752m

Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
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Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites
Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites Rifugio Lagazuoi - Italian Dolomites

With the light show over, the guests return to the warmth, the hospitality of the rifugio staff matching the well heated, wooden clad dining room. It seems strange to be perched here at such a height yet so comfortable and warm. The wine list is extensive and the food fantastic, creature comforts in contrast to the plunging temperatures outside.

Staying in the midst of the mountains offers a unique perspective and is possible in the Dolomites in numerous mountain huts. These rifugios scattered across the region cover both summer and winter. In the summertime offering unrivaled access to walking routes and via ferrata, in the winter ski touring, snowshoeing and, as at Lagazuoi, direct access to the Dolomiti Superski network of pistes. Descending the famous Lagazuoi to Armentarola piste, the ‘hidden valley’, before the majority of people can access the slope, makes for a breathtaking end to a fabulous stay.

Want to join us and stay in Rifugio Lagazuoi in the Dolomites? You can in summer on a Hut to Hut Itinerary or in winter on a Ski Safari.

Last week’s snow in the Alta Badia was, of course, greeted with a mixture of excitement and relief. Cold temperatures and excellent snow making infrastructure had meant the winter so far had run as usual. Pistes open across the Dolomiti Superski area and crisp sunny weather had led to countless enjoyable days on the mountain, but without a real natural snowfall it all seemed a little tenuous, as though a spell of warm weather would bring an end to it all prematurely. Luckily for us, any fears and nerves were put to bed this weekend.

All weather forecasting in a mountainous area like the Dolomites is difficult and unreliable. We watch the various longer range forecasts in hope more than anything, often stopping on the website which offers the most optimistic chance of snow. When the different agencies start to agree, that is when you can begin to expect rather than speculate. Producing the weather reports each day for our chalets in the Dolomites, I am able to watch this process unfold. As the potential snowfall gets closer, the predictions more accurate, the forecasters begin to form a consensus. It’s only then when I become confident in what is to come.

Fresh Snow in the Italian Dolomites

Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Pralongia Plateau Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Pralongia Plateau
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Skiing in the Dolomites with Collett's Skiing in the Dolomites with Collett's
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Perfect Pistes Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Perfect Pistes
Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Sella Ronda Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Sella Ronda
Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Skiing to Corvara Snow in the Dolomites - January 2017 - Skiing to Corvara
Santa Croce - Alta Badia in Winter Santa Croce - Alta Badia in Winter
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Lake to Lake Snowshoe Lake to Lake Snowshoe
Lake to Lake Snowshoe Lake to Lake Snowshoe

As such it was not a spontaneous excitement when the snow did fall, but excitement nonetheless. In fact you could feel it across the village. Numerous machines from enormous diggers and snow ploughs to more humble hand pushed snow blowers emerge from garages across town. Even more humble the shovel that formed our arsenal of snow clearing equipment at Chalet Verena. Nevertheless, we attacked the newly formed snow drifts with abandon, shovelling piles of snow into the road where they were promptly picked up by the comune vehicles. The way these communities pull together in extreme weather is almost a throwback to an earlier time, when working together meant survival. Nowadays it forms a bond of excitement, the snowfall reinvigorating the resort.

Our Winter Holiday Prices for 2017/18 are available here.

Visit Dolomiti Superski for more details

January 16th, 2017 – We have had a great couple of days in the Dolomites Skiing & Snowshoeing. Guests arrived on Sunday delighted with the fresh snow. We have been out skiing today on the Pralongià Plateau and Sella Ronda whilst snowshowers have been treated to the Runch hut and Ru de Pisciadù.

Our Winter Holiday Late Availability is available here.

Skiing La Vizza on the Pralongià Plateau – 16 January 2017

When collecting an expectant new group of guests from the airport, this is often the first question. It is of even greater importance in a winter where snow has been so far scarce. For those of us collecting the guests, the journey to resort can be an exercise in reassurance. We know the skiing is good, but it’s a hard sell for those who don’t know the lengths taken by the Alta Badia resorts to ensure an excellent ski holiday.

Piste conditions are of upmost importance in the mind of the skier. Nightmare visions of unbashed mogul runs and mounds of un-groomed slush loom in the imagination. Thankfully, Dolomiti Superski are committed to grooming every slope, every day. With 1,200km of slopes in one of the world’s largest ski areas, it is a bold commitment. The task is entrusted to 330 snow cats, their drivers working through the night to deliver perfect skiing conditions for the next day.

Snow-making and piste preparation in the Italian Dolomites

All the photos and videos below were taken during the start of the 2016/17 Winter Season

Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites

Piste Bashers are intimidating machines. Weighing in at almost 10 tons and costing around a quarter of a million euros, they make for a noisy and impressive sight, churning plumes of snow as they plough into the night. For most of us, they appear only as lonely white lights set against the silhouette of the mountains above. It is worth sparing a thought for the operators, working tirelessly to ensure the conditions we crave as skiers are in place for the next day. Corduroy pistes, guaranteed to await the early riser.

When discussing topics such as piste preparation in the Dolomites it is hard not to sound like an advertiser; but in a winter so far without widespread snow across Europe, it is truly remarkable what they are able to do here. Along with the extensive network of snow cannons and new investment in lifts each season, Dolomiti Superski are putting their money where their mouth is. The results are clear for visitors to the area to see, outstanding skiing might as well be guaranteed.

Our Winter Holiday Prices for 2017/18 are available here.

Visit Dolomiti Superski for more details

Featured Image – Perfect Piste Preparation in the Dolomites – © Val Gardena Marketing

Bringing in the New Year in the Italian Dolomites on a skiing or snowshoeing holiday offers a unique take on the Capodanno festival. Although the villages in the Alta Badia are famed as hubs for winter sport, when night fell on the last day of the year they came to life as friendly and welcoming bases for a special party. Many of the mountain refuges opened for New Year’s dinners, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy a unique celebration, between the crystal-clear stars and the lights and fireworks in the villages below.

Cappodanno – New Year in the Dolomites

Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites
Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites Cappodanno and New Year in the Dolomites

In Corvara itself, festivities were mostly concentrated around the bandstand in the centre of town. Lit up and adorned with Christmas lights, which were soon added to by flares and stage lights as the band got underway, the square formed a lively hub to events for the evening’s celebrations. The high street, busy with families decanting themselves from the bars and restaurants to wander the town, was bustling and joyful. With the school holidays in full swing and the many young ones in resort offered a rare late night, the atmosphere was jovial and family oriented. The alcohol induced carnage many expect in the UK replaced by huge feasts and convivial midnight ‘passeggiata’.

The ski show drew many of the crowds, illuminating mount Sassongher that looms over the village. This spectacle was followed by torchlit descents by skiers and paragliders, bright lights descending beautifully through the crisp winter air.

As the clock struck midnight and the church bells rang in the new year, the town celebrated together. It was worth raising a glass to the white lights of the piste bashers ploughing on into the night, whose lonely crew would still leave the slopes immaculate for the next day’s sport.

Crisp winter air, sparkling lights and the sweet scent of mulled wine. There is a buzz in the air, children charge about excitedly. Smoke drifts into the clear night sky from outdoor heaters and chalet chimneys, partly obscuring the twinkling lights from the stars and the high mountain refuges that seem suspended in the air above the villages. The village becomes Christmas nostalgia manifested. Every childhood dream of wooden chalets picked out against snowy mountain landscapes and pine forests. The background of the snowman, walking in the air.

Christmas & New Year are a popular and exciting time to spend Winter in the Dolomites

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Christmas in the Dolomites Christmas in the Dolomites
Christmas in the Dolomites Christmas in the Dolomites

In many ways, going away for Christmas is an act of escapism. The Christmas routine is reshuffled, the morning stroll becomes a breath-taking high mountain snow shoe. The first celebratory drink a warm and creamy Bombardino (an Italian eggnog drink). On return to the chalet the guests are greeted by prosecco, panettone and smiling faces. The carnage of the present exchange is side-lined by enjoyment of the environment. Free to enjoy a stylised Christmas wonderland, the endless washing up handily taken care of by the chalet staff, the guests tuck in to their roast dinner, a little bit traditional, a little bit different.

For many holidaymakers, a winter vacation means the search for snow. For skiers in particular the hunt becomes a ritual. Daily checks on forecasts and webcams follow pain staking research dissecting snowfall charts from the previous decade of winters. It can be a nervous process, the necessities of booking so far in advance dictate an expectant wait for the winter’s first storms. But mountain weather is fickle, and snow is not guaranteed. Should the snow not come, we worry we will be left disappointed, and with this much time and money invested, the possibility looms large.

But fear not, eager skier! The Dolomiti Superski pass covers some of the most snow-sure terrain in Europe, if not the world. Not because of its altitude, or glaciated terrain, but because of the extensive investment in snow making infrastructure. As I write, despite the lack of any significant snowfall in the region, 684km of slopes are open. In total, 1168km of slopes here are covered by snow making machinery, so that number is only set to rise.

Snow-making in the Italian Dolomites

Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites
Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites Skiing, Snowshoeing and Snow-making in the Dolomites

The statistics for the Dolomites are staggering, 4700 snow cannons manned by 3000 staff. 330 snow cats ensuring each piste is kept in perfect condition, guaranteed bashing of every piste, every night. The famous highlight of the region’s skiing, the Sella Ronda, is open in both directions, as is access to the area’s highest – the Marmolada.

Nothing related to the weather is certain, but this level of infrastructure ensures no one could ski in the Dolomites and leave unimpressed at the amount of effort that goes into producing the best skiing experience possible. With Dolomiti Superski’s commitment to ensuring an unforgettable experience, we can leave the weather worry behind.

*All statistics from Dolomiti Superski