Recap | Skiing in Val Gardena, Italy

The second week of my trip home was spent in South Tyrol in the Italian Alps with my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, cousin and his girlfriend. Yes, as you know, my family likes to travel together.

We stayed at a vacation rental (Apartment Wurdengeja) within walking distance of the slopes.

We had a three-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room, and south-facing balcony with a view of the impressive Sella Group and the Sassolungo (Lankofel).

There was some snow fall on the day of our arrival, but then for the next three days, we had the best weather. It was amazing to step on the balcony and be greeted by this view every morning.

As mentioned in my ‘Weekly Run Down‘, we were a little unlucky with the weather for the rest of the week. We had snowfall and low visibility for three out of six ski days, which was a bit of a bummer. Snow conditions overall were ok, but it was a little bit too warm for the new snow to really stick and it even rained a few times. You also should know that I am a bit of a “fair-weather-skier”. I don’t like being caught in snowstorms, so this wasn’t the most fun I have had on the slopes, but hey, I was going to take what I could get and we did have quite a few cozy moments at various ski lodges.

The Dolomiti Superski is one of the largest ski areas in the world and consists of 12 ski resorts with 1,200 kilometers of slopes, 1,177 km of cross-country ski trails, 30 snow parks and 450 lifts, about half of which are directly connected to each other, and all of which can be used with a single ski pass. We were able to ski in different resorts every single day.

(Your favorite little nerd made a little map for you (full version here), where you can see the 12 different resorts, the town we stayed in (blue dot),  and the different resorts/valleys – labeled 1 through 6 – we actually skied during our stay. We only scratched the surface. The yellow triangle shows the location of our favorite ski lodge (Baita Panorama) where we usually stopped for a hot beverage at the end of the day before heading back to the apartment.) 

On Sunday, our first day back on skis, we didn’t venture too far from home and stayed around Plan de Gralba/Passo Sella (1). There are plenty of blue (easy) and a couple of red (intermediate) runs to shake the rust off and get back your muscle memory. It was a beautiful, sunny day and everybody was in great spirits!

Gah! Look how much these kids have grown!

On Monday, we circumnavigated the Sella massif (2). This day trip is called the “Sellaronda” and thanks to well connected lift systems and slopes, you can ski about 18 miles of slopes in one day and you almost never have to actually get off your skis and won’t pass any of the routes twice. It’s an amazing all-day adventure and we were taking advantage of the good weather because we knew it wasn’t going to last. My Mom opted out of this long day, but my Dad skied with us. He did so well, despite his recent hip surgery. Well, he is an experienced skier after all.

Sisters

In the evenings, we were able to ski down all the way into the town –Wolkenstein’s elevation is 1500 m (5,100 feet) – and walk back to our apartment. It doesn’t get better than that.

We prepared yummy Brotzeit dinners at home, but also went out to eat a few times. I really enjoyed this delicious authentic Italian pizza at Pizzeria and Restaurant Pranives

Classic Pizza Tonno e Cipolla (tuna and onions)

On Tuesday, we went skiing on the Seiser Alm (Alpe de Suisi) (3), an Alpine plateau and the largest high-elevation Alpine meadow in Europe. It offers breath views over the nearby Dolomite peaks of the Langkofel Group and the Schlern.

You might recall that I shared my desktop picture with you before. It’s one of the random pictures the Windows system shuffles through and which stopped me in my tracks when I first though it because I knew that place and knew where that picture was taken! 

Well, here is the desktop picture and a picture that I took from a similar vantage point while I was there (unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as stunning a day with all the clouds but beautiful nonetheless.)

The access to Seiser Alm via gondola is in St. Ulrich/Ortisei, another small town in Val Gardena, where my family used to stay during our vacations in the past. It’s famous for it’s ornate woodcarvings (they export to all around the world) and of course, we had to stop and visit “our friend” who has been guarding this store front since we were little girls. Amazing, right?

Some things don’t change.
Schlern in the background

The Seiser Alm offers a nice round trip route, the Alpe di Siusi Ronda, and starts and ends at the top of the gondola. You never have to take off and carry your skis anywhere! Except for lunch, which we had at Baita Zallinger. My sister and I shared the bacon dumpling soup, which was absolutely amazing.

Tyrolean Bacon Dumpling Soup

Wednesday was definitely the worst day weatherwise. It was windy, foggy, and it snowed the whole day. Not ideal, but we weren’t going to waste a day of skiing and got bundled up. My parents and the two kids teens decided to take a rest day, the rest of us made it down the famous FIS World Cup slope Saslong (4) which hosts two World Cup races every year – a downhill and a Super G race. We didn’t get as much skiing in as we would have liked, but hey, hanging out in the mountain lodge is a not-too-shabby pastime.

We wouldn’t let this weather get us down

We did call it a day a little earlier than on the other days because of the bad weather. My mom, sister, niece and I decided to take the bus to St. Ulrich in the afternoon to walk around and look at the shops for some souvenirs.

We also visited the old steam engine that has been around as long as I can remember.

Thursday was another day of poor visibility and persistent snow fall, which was great for the slopes (we needed some fresh snow) but not a super-enjoyable skiing experience. We made our way to Seceda (5), which is part of the Puez-Odle Nature Park, and usually offers a stunning view of the Odle Peaks (Geisler Spitzen) — well, when the visibility is good, that is. There’s two ways to get to Seceda from Wolkenstein – on skis via St. Christina, or by taking the bus to St. Ulrich and taking the gondola from there. My Dad stayed home, but my Mom was determined to ski and I agreed to take the bus with her and take the gondola.

We were hoping that maybe the clouds were just hanging low and we’d be above the clouds once we reached the top. Sadly that was not the case and the visibility up top was so poor that my Mom decided to turn around. I don’t blame her. The first two runs were not fun. I couldn’t see anything but was determined to get down the hill and to the spot where I met up with the others who had taken the ‘ski route’ via St. Christina.

We took one of the long chair lifts up to the top and it was so windy and cold that we decided to find a ski lodge and wait for the snow fall to let up. The freshly powered landscape surely looked beautiful.

Kaiserschmarrn (fluffy shredded pancake with lingonberries and apple sauce)

Friday was our last day. My Mom had good intentions and again tried to join us, but made it up to the top of the gondola before she decided to turn around. It was a smart call. We had whiteout conditions and contours in the snow were almost indistinguishable.

We still decided to try and make it over to the Edelweiß Valley (6) in Colfosco, which was only the next valley over. And even though the weather was still not cooperating (it snowed in the morning and snow even turned into rain in the early afternoon), we made the best of it and stayed on the mountain until the lifts closed. We might or might not have spent some extra time at the ski lodge drinking one or two more hot chocolates (THE BEST!) to warm up :)

Apple Strudel
Our last visit at Baita Panorama

We enjoyed our one last long run down from the top and really squeezed every last minute out of this skiing vacation. In the end, my parents didn’t ski for the last three days because of the poor visibility and snow conditions. They didn’t want to risk a fall and I think that was a smart decision. We had to do a lot of ‘skiing by feel’ and that demands a lot of physical endurance and alertness at all times.

I was still a little bummed not to have them on the slopes with us during the day, but I am so grateful that they’re still physically fit enough to ski at all. We had a lot of fun, nobody got hurt, and we still had the best time in a place that is near and dear to all our hearts!

11 Comments

  1. What a winter wonderland!! I loved following along on stories, though I am decidedly not a strong skier! I had no idea everything could be so connected, that’s lovely!! I’m very impressed with all your ski skills, and especially your parents! Glad to hear your dad is navigating life post hip surgery so well!

  2. The photos of food and smiling faces and snow-covered mountains are amazing. I’ve never skied nor been to Italy, but it looks glorious. I’m glad you had a great time with your family.

  3. Oh my goodness, these photos are gorgeous! This looks so fun. I do not “ski”, though it does sound so fun to just “ski down into town” like you said. I love the idea of staying at a place where you can literally just ski out and be there. That’s so cool. Maybe someday we’ll do a ski trip? I don’t know. Asher has skiied a few times with a friend’s family and he loves it, but we are so inexperienced that the whole thing just seems very overwhelming to me. Like I would be very out of my element! I’ve only skiied a few times and definitely am not experienced. It’s smart that your parents sat those last days out. It’s a bummer, but we’re getting to that stage with my parents too- they’re still in great shape, BUT, we’re also aware that certain things are just slowly getting a little bit harder/ more risky. We have had to make some choices related to hikes etc even on our recent Smokies trip, which I know is hard for my dad to accept. Again, still in super great shape but just things like balance and agility maybe not quite what they once were, so not worth it to put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

  4. Oh wow, the mountains are so beautiful, and look at you go! I love skiing but don’t get to go much now. The last time I skied was in Park City with my brother before the pandemic. Skiing in Australia, you have to be a ski any weather person because the days there is actually enough snow are so few.

  5. What an amazing view to wake up too.
    That chair lift is huge. I have never seen one that big I think. Crazy.

    I miss king and all the yummy foods. Germknödel and Leberknödelsuppe don’t taste the same outside of ski slopes, no?

    Glad you had fun and everyone came home healthy.

  6. Those Mountain Views! And how fun to return to a place where your family has made so many memories. And now your teen niece and nephew are making them – maybe sometime they will come back when and if they have kids and tell them about skiing with their cool aunt San. I love that your parents still ski. It makes sense that they decided to sit out those last 3 days, though. Those conditions sounded tough.

    I did not grow up skiing but I learned when I worked in Steamboat Springs, CO in college during 2 winter breaks. It was hard to learn as an adult, even a young adult. Plus I am not naturally athletic. Makes me wish I had learned younger not I don’t feel super motivated to have Paul learn since we won’t be a skiing vacation kind of family and he is like me and not exactly super brave/adventurous. But I love reading other family’s ski trips!!

  7. Such gorgeous views! And that food!!!

  8. What a beautiful place! I’m sorry the visibility wasn’t great so you couldn’t ski as much as you’d hoped, but how fun to travel with all of your family like that. I loved that you get to do that! That’s a true gift. <3

  9. Thank you for this very thorough report- I researched Val Gardena and now I really want to go. I have been to Tyrol in the summer but from Austrian side, and the views were just breathtaking. How wonderful that you had that time with your family!

  10. I am so glad you had this week with your family – even though the weather was less than ideal. The smiles on your beaming faces tell me everything I need to know about how everyone felt about this getaway. <3 Your posts make me want to return to the mountains of Europe, but first, I need to get my travel mojo back, though. I think I'll start a bit smaller than this kind of trip!

  11. This trip looks breath taking. Sorry the skiing conditions didn’t cooperate, but wow – the photos! The food. the size of your group, the scenery, and the little map you created – of course you did. Well, this just looks like something out of a magazine. I’m not a skiier – tried to ski for the first time in the Alps. Do not recommend and will never try again. I’m glad your parents were diligent about safety and knowing when to call it a day.

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