THE ITALIAN Dolomites is a compelling area for skiers who like to get around a bit. The Superski lift pass allows you to ski in any number of different resorts during your holiday; and you can cover high mileages on skis, too, provided you spend your time in the orbit of the Sella massif, which is ringed by the piste network known as the Sella Ronda. The area is also irresistible to connoisseurs of mountain scenery. For me, a double whammy.

You have a choice of half a dozen resorts in the Sella Ronda area. None of them, frankly, is particularly memorable as a village. The pick, purely in terms of character, is Ortisei; but it is slightly off the beaten track, although still linked into the network. Selva inspires no affection. Corvara lacks a focus. And so on.

Arabba is about the quietest of the alternatives, which I don't mind in the least - little more than a hamlet, with a dozen chalet-style hotels clustered around its church. It's the kind of place with one disco buried in a hotel basement, which may or may not contain much activity.

But what really singles out Arabba is the local skiing. It gives access not only to the Sella Ronda but also to 800 metres vertical of steep north-facing slopes, served by a powerful gondola, on the other side of the village, beneath the Porta Vescovo. This is some of the best red and black skiing in the Dolomites, with links beyond to the glacier of Marmolada.

CHRIS GILL'S VERDICT: A small, unassuming village at the junction of two serious ski areas amid spectacular scenery - what more can an Italophile ask? Reliable snow perhaps, and even that's only a bus-ride away at Corvara in the form of snow-guns.

(Photograph omitted)

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