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A sparkling world awaits

Val Gardena is part of the Dolomiti Superski, the largest ski region on Earth, offering opportunities for all abilities.

Majestic limestone mountains tower over Alpine slopes and plateaux. Beneath them are scattered hamlets and villages that look as if they have wandered straight off the pages of a picture book. Welcome to Val Gardena, in South Tyrol, Italy’s northernmost province. It is also known as Gröden – for in this culturally rich region of Italy, German is spoken as well as Italian.

Val Gardena lies in the very heart of the Dolomites. About 20km long, this stunning valley offers skiing as fabulous as its scenery. Its three charming village-resorts of Selva/ Wolkenstein, Ortisei/St Ulrich, and S Cristina/St Christina together present superb facilities, with 175km of downhill slopes and 98km of cross-country tracks. What’s more, Val Gardena forms part of the Dolomiti Superski, the world’s largest ski region, so there are extensive opportunities for skiers of all abilities – and all on one area ski pass.

For non-skiers, there are plenty of activities too, including sleigh riding, snowshoeing and even a thrilling 6km toboggan run at Ortisei. Other facilities range from spas to excellent Alpine cuisine, and there’s also a wealth of intriguing local Ladin culture to discover.

Natural wonders

Since June 2009, the Dolomites have officially ranked as one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. This is when the spectacular mountain range was awarded Unesco World Heritage site status. Val Gardena itself is very much among the most visually arresting parts of this region, and has been a much-admired sports area since the first skiers began arriving here in the 19th century. The winter weather is often nearperfect, too: blue skies and sunshine are the norm for a good 80 per cent of the sparkling, snow-covered season.

What’s new?

This winter, a state-of-theart high-speed funicular opens, running from Ortisei to Rasciesa in just eight minutes. It presents a breathtaking panorama of the South Tyrol, and on clear days the views stretch as far as Lombardy and Austria.

In early December, the Saslong Smart Hotel opens in S Cristina. It has been impressively devised to offer a great combination of cool design, warm hospitality of Val Gardena and surprisingly low prices.

Meanwhile, new ski activities include twiceweekly day-long freestyle courses. The hottest and most rapidly growing craze on the slopes, this highoctane, acrobatic sport will be taught at the 20 Dolomiti Superski snow parks, including the fun park “Piz Sella” in Val Gardena, starting from mid January.

How to get there

There’s easy access to Val Gardena from a good choice of airports: Verona; Milan-Bergamo, Venice, Treviso and Innsbruck. These are served from the UK by easyJet (easyjet.com), Ryanair (ryanair.com), and British Airways (ba.com). Speedy links on to the valley are provided on the northsouth motorway between Italy and Austria by hire car or low-cost coach service (more information visit flytovalgardena.com).