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Corvara and the Italian Dolomites

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

So, late January was spent in the Italian Dolomites, with ten days skiing based in the town of Corvara.  Corvara is about 3.5 hours drive north from Venice, into the Italian Alps.  Of course, being so close to Venice means a quick visit on the way in is a must, and we were rewarded with a lovely, slightly foggy winter evening.


The Grand Canal

Venice Grand Canal


Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge



Gathering gloom.

Murky Canal



But, after a refreshing break following about 29 hours of travel, we jumped back onto the train the next morning to get ourselves up into the mountains.  And what mountains they are.


The Dolomiti Superski pass gives you access to over 450 lifts, and they claim to groom over 1,200km of piste every night.  The wider piste map seems to be about 80km x 50km, leaving us with a daily question of "where are we going to go today"?  We had no difficulty at all being more than 15km from our village by 2:00pm.  The challenge then is to get back in time for the last lifts or else wind up in the wrong valley needing a bus or taxi home.


At the heart of the region is the Sella Massif.  The layout allows for both a clockwise and anti-clockwise tour around the Massif via a linked series of runs and lifts - the Sella Ronda.  The tour encompasses four passes and four valleys taking you around in a journey that approaches 40km all up.  On this day we chose the clockwise (orange) circuit, leaving Corvara via the Passo Campolongo, taking the cable car above Arabba and skiing the valley before being lifted up to the Passo Pordoi, skiing the Val di Fassa to the Passo Sella, skiing the Plan de Gralba to Val Gardena, then being lifted up to the Passo Gardena and into our home valley in the afternoon followed by the long schuss down into Colfosco and the final horizontal lift home to Corvara on the Borest lift.


The Sassongher peak above Corvara.



Looking at the Sella Massif from Passo Campolongo.

Passo Compolongo


The cable car above the village of Arabba.

Cable car at Arabba


And looking left towards the Sella Massif.

Sells Massif from Arabba


Looking up towards the Passo Pordoi.

Passo Pordoi


Looking at the Sella Massif across the Plan de Gralba.

Plan de Gralba


Nasty, icey, little slope above Selva Val Gardena / Wolkenstein.Nasty run


The ski-up grappa bars were always a recurring threat in the afternoons.

Grappa bar


The next day it was back to Arabba and beyond to ascend (and ski) the Marmolada Glacier.


This is over the back of the slopes above Arabba.

Arabba Slopes


The cable car arriving at the summit.

Marmolada Cable Car


And the view from the top.  Somewhere around 11,500 feet.  A few days later we bumped into some Californians who landed up here in their helicopter, having flown in from the Austrian resorts for a change of pace.  "It's a seven hour drive, man ... who's got time for that?"  I really want their lifestyle one day.

View from Marmolada


And then we headed off down the glacier.  Down there towards the bottom was an intrepid guy skinning up the edge of the piste.  Much kudos to him, of course, but I still prefer the idea of the helicopter.

Glacier Run


On one day we hopped a bus to the Passo Falzarego, caught the cable car up to Lagazuoi to do a run that has been voted one of the top five most picturesque in the world.  The hidden valley from Lagazuoi.


It was gloomy and trying hard to snow at the top, which mostly hid what I'm told is a fantastic view, but we stopped into the Rifugio Scotoni on the way down, and looked at the frozen waterfalls below the rifugio.



And were then dragged along the flat valley floor on the run out behind a horse draw carriage.



Following another successful day in the direction of Seceda, and after a minor "directional hiccup" ending on a bunny slope in the middle of Santa Cristina, here we are at the top of the Passo Gardena, with Corvara visible in the valley below.

Passo Gardena


On one day we had an "away game" in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Here's the view from the top of the Tofana Schuss in Cortina.  This one gets steep ... briefly.

Tofana Schuss


And the amazing view from Rifugio Averau at the top of the Cinque Torri slopes.  This one we stumbled upon by accident after hastily departing Cortina to avoid the racers, the nasty snow and the grumpy rifugio staff.  "Get us back to our happy valley".



Happy memories of watching the sunset from the deck at Utia Punta Trieste.

Punta Trieste


'Cause the sunsets were gorgeous.



Although the natives sometimes overdid the celebrations.




But the owls didn't care.



And skiing back into the village in the darkness was such a treat (was the camera out of focus or was it just me I wonder).



And, of course, there's always a few days recuperation to be had in Venice on the way out.


Canal Reflections


The food was fantastic, the slopes were never ending, the people were friendly and the weather was kind - although a touch more fresh snow would have been the cherry on top.


Would I go back?  In a heartbeat.

Edited by sinbad7 - 2/22/11 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 20


post #3 of 20

Very nice TR, picture perfect but somehow did'nt imagine an italian lying passed out on the slope in full ski-regalia...but then again probably french, or german!

Cool trip

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

Didn't stop to check, but I agree; likely not Italian.


I love that they groom a section of the run down into the village so the late revellers can catch fresh tracks around 5:00pm on the way home.  A bumped-up run would prove 'interesting' in the dark after an afternoon at Utia Punta Trieste or Rifugio Pralongia.

post #5 of 20

Thanks for the report. Fantastic photos. Terrific trip! icon14.gif

post #6 of 20

Agree with MastersRacer: great report!  Makes me want to book a trip for next winter [starts pondering now].

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

It's such a vast area to ski on one pass.  We went a different direction each day for ten days and I don't think we managed any more than 20% of the available slopes - and that's probably an optimistic call.  It's not steep or challenging skiing at all, but it's huge.


Search for Dolomiti Superski or Sella Ronda and you'll be on your way.


Happy to field PM questions if anyone's interested.

post #8 of 20

Very nice!  This part of the ski world has long been on my bucket list due to the amazing scenery.  Do the locals speak German in Corvara, Arabba or other towns in the Dolomites?

post #9 of 20

Incredible, and I thought the mountains in Utah were big.

post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post


Do the locals speak German in Corvara, Arabba or other towns in the Dolomites?

Yes, German works about as well as Italian.


(just got back from there this past Sunday, haven't got around sorting the pictures yet)

post #11 of 20

Fabulous trip report. Thanks for sharing.

One of my favorite places - Venice, plus skiing! Never considered it. Love the night time Grand Canal in winter photo. I've heard Venice in the fall winter has a beautiful melancholy with the fog. I suppose one could do a trip and be in Venice for the Carnivale, then go skiing or vice versa. That would be cool. This year carnival starts 2/26 - 3/8, but next year it's early starting 2/11 - 2/21 - it's related to Easter.


How is the terrain? I see there's a lot. Is there steep terrain? Bumps? How's the off piste skiing?


post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

The terrain is much more than plentiful, but most of it is not especially challenging. However, it's Europe, so I expect you could hire a guide and find any type of steep bahaviour you like.  There's couloirs galore, plus off piste in any number of directions.  I'm no expert on this, as we weren't looking at steeps, but a few queries on the Euro board would likely get answers.  Shouldn't be hard to find experienced guides.

post #13 of 20

Looks like an awesome trip.  Thanks for posting.

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 

Plugged my pass number into the Dolomiti Superski website last night.  The system logs you onto each lift and occasionally tracks your exit where the lift has intermediate stations.  Once you plug in your ticket number it shows an animated map of the lifts and runs done on my pass for each day of skiing and provides stats for each day and the trip as a whole:


- ten days

- 179 lifts (a few of them multiple times)

- 52,813 metres (176,000 feet) of vertical

- just on 300km of runs (an estimate, of course).

post #15 of 20

Loved your slide show! I skied in this same area last week and had an awesome time. Utia Punta Trieste was an awesome lunch spot - I wish I was there on the terrace right now. Thanks so much for posting your gorgeous photos!!

post #16 of 20

By the way, where on the Dolomiti website can I plug in my ski pass number? I have looked around but don't see where to do it. 

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 



PM sent.

post #18 of 20

Great job w/ this TR! How were your accommodations? Did you book the trip yourself a la carte or did you go through a travel agency or package deal?

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

Booked it all myself directly. Hours and hours spent reading up on the various hotels & pensiones in Corvara.  There's really four options, which are typical; various grades of hotel with half board (breakfast and dinner), hotel without half board, apartments and lodges.  We went hotel and half board for this trip.  If I were to go back I'd take an apartment, spend more time in the apres bar and both cook in-house plus eat out a little more.


PM me for recommendations on specific accommodation options.

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 

Oh!  And in Venice we were staying in the red/ochre coloured building at left in the first photo.  Hotel San Cassiano.. Also known locally as Ca' Favretto.


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