Bert, last time I was there was 1997, so, please take it all with a grain of salt...
Also, I will probably use the present tense while writing, please remember that my "present tense" refers to 6 yrs ago.
Swon usually comes in late, but the locals make up with man made snow, which is more than enough.
Usually snow conditions are ok but, if you're used to the rockies like Spinheli, don't expect to ski in powder every day.
As it is, it may well not happen to you.
Two reasons, snowfall aren't that big, and the groomers maniacally groom the runs every evening, presenting a "well" worked surface for the next morning.
Another important thing is that mid-december (usually the last W/E before Christmas, the White Circus will be in
La Villa, Alta Badia, for the GS race)
If you plan some off-piste run (I think you can relate that to BC) ,like the Val Mezdì, I advice you to ask
a guide to accompany you, it wil cost a bit, but safety first.
I used to go there in the last week of anuary. It is the last low-season week, prices are a bit lower
and days are starting to grow longer, so lifts close a bit later (Dec-Jan they close around 16.00 to 16.30
from the last january week lift close between 16.30 and 17.00.
This is important if you want to ski the Sella Ronda, the round itself is not really interesting, what is of interest
are the "great" runs each villages you touch have to offer, let's tke for example the counterclockwise round:
Canazei, the whole area
Arabba, the Porta Vescovo runs
Corvara, The Boè
Colfosco, the Forcelles run (it is a little bit askew of the Sella Ronda path)
Selva di ValGardena, the Dantercepies
And then you're closing the round going back to Canazei.
When I said "the round is not interesting" I refer to the fact that the Sella Ronda itself, is mainly composed
of linkage-runs (I lack a better word to identify runs which carry you from one village to the next,
usually blue or green, but not all) and if you stick to the path, can be easily covered in half a day
(I think the record is 3 hrs), what add interest is the possibility for a skier to move from one Village
and go skiing the nice runs of the next.
So, if you go, say, from Canazei to La Villa, to ski the Gran Risa there, and like it, or if you go to
Selva di Valgardena (Wolkenstein) and ski the DH run of Santa Cristina, it may well be that you get then
stuck in a bottleneck (nearly all removed by now, I hope) or like that particular place so much that you
spend the day there, you then need to hire a taxi to bring you back to yor room.
In fact it happened a couple of times to me...
As for how to arrive there, Venice of Verona are the closest Italian airports, and I'd hire a car if I were you.
The car will come in handy to go to the resort but, once there (and if there is enough snow) You will not need
it anymore, to move from a village to the next you'll need your skis only, and can use the public transportation
(busses) if the destination is too far.
A car, of course, will add flexibility to your options. Like Spinheli, if you decide to go to Austria...
My personal experience has always been, I've used the car to get there, and then forgotten about it for the
whole week. I used to travel there with my family (uncles, mom, cousins, half of the village) and friends, hiring a bus,
so not to have to think about a car (also, more ecologically friendly, if you want),
but, for those evening that you wish to go to next village...
Spinheli, you should have gone last season, my friends told me that boarding down the Marmolada in
waist deep pow was a blast! (it may well have been the best season for years), also, which time of the seeason did you go?
(meseems you already said that somewhere, I am just too lazy to go and look for it [img]smile.gif[/img])
Also, mountains there are full of history, Marmolada, Col di Lana, Passo Falzarego (just above Cortina) are places where
the Italian Alpini and the Austrian Kaisejaeger/German Gebirgjaeger bitterly fought during WWI...
All in all I've had great years and so-so years, years where I could ski pow, albeit not the kind/quantity you
may be used to, and years I skied on ice...
I missed the two worst years ever, the 1988 and this one too, where only the runs
were white with man made snow (until end of January) and the rest of the mountains was green/brown, nevertheless people could ski.
I do hope that next winter wil be better and,I hope you'll come and not be disappointed!