Giuseppe di Rienzo shares his ski adventure with us…
Here’s the tale of a ski riding experience we had last winter in the Dolomites in Italy..
My friend Aron from Sweden came to visit me to ski in the Dolomites, to explore Venice, enjoy food, wine and experience some random adventures along the way. We start our ski trip from the beautiful and glamorous Cortina D’Ampezzo town.
We are sure to bring with us a light backpack with a few things we need to overnight in a typical wooden mountain shelter (rifugio). But the shelter is many kilometers and some valleys away. The plan is to reach Canazei ski area riding across two beautiful ski tours, the Super 8 and Sella Ronda, overnight half way and come back the day after. These are two series of ski lifts and downhill runs connected and served by all kinds of facilities, something unique in the world.
The route brought us across rocky and snowy peaks, forests, iced waterfalls, on slope restaurant and mountain shelter with great food and wine, world cup downhill runs, beautiful mountain town and much more. The morning view of Mount Tofana is just breath taking, the sun starts lighting the upper rocky face of the peaks.
A good cappuccino, a tasty cornetto (croissant) and the genuine smile of the bar attendant is what we need to start our first ski day.
So we leave Cortina skiing some slopes in the Tofana area and moving with a ski bus to 5 Torri ski area. On the top of this area, we enjoy the view of some incredible natural stone masterpieces and we see an Italian luxury sports car being transported by helicopter to the top of the mountain!
Some ski runs more and we reach the Col Gallina ski area. Here, on Passo Falzarego, there was the border between Italy and Austria during the first world war, here were fought many hard and longs battles. We visit the tunnel carved in the hard rock by the soldiers, the conditions they fought under were extreme.
After this historical stop, we ski down the 8 kilometers long Armentarola slope. The panorama is just unbelievable! Along the way, we stop at the famous Scotoni shelter (rifugio), a good place to taste some traditional mountain food – polenta and grilled meat. Still it’s too early to have lunch so we just take a bombardino and keep going. For whom does not know what a bombardino is, just hop on a plane and come try it! (I rather explain what a bombardino is). When you are cold from skiing, a bombardino can literally resurrect you and bring back your smile.
On the lower Armentarola slope we stop to see the iced waterfalls next to the slope, we watch the ice climbers for a few minutes and we resume our trip. At the bottom of the slope another surprise awaits for us…
To reach the next ski area we have to cross a flat spot and the way we are going to do it is just amazing and funny! Some sleds run by horses pull dozens of skiers at the same time as we all hold onto two ropes. We enjoy the ride and thank the impressive animals for the ride.
We are now in Alta Badia (San Cassiano area). If you are a fine food lover this place is for you. There is the world’s largest concentration of Michelin star restaurants here! But, today, the plan for us is a quick sandwich with roasted sausage and a beer on the slopes. After riding the Gran Risa world cup slope and some more runs we reach the beautiful town of Corvara in Badia. Here, we join the Sellaronda ski tour. Arabba is our next town to reach, It is located on the other side of Passo Campolongo.
More runs and riding await us… across Passo Pordoi we arrive to the Canazei ski area. We are getting closer to the shelter where we will spend the night so we have an aperitivo before dinner and we mingle with a bunch of funny Spanish tourists, some of them are excellent singers and they bring a bit of Sevillian and flamenco atmosphere to the Dolomites.
A stunning sunset, great dinner, spartan but warm beds in the shelter. The morning after, the rising sun wishes us a nice day. After breakfast we put our ski boots on again, do a quick warm-up and we are on track again. After passing over Passo Sella. It’s now time for us to enjoy the Val Gardena ski area.
Our time skiing in Dolomites is pure pleasure, we enjoy chatting with people on the lifts, stop for coffees and typical food on the way, we sit to listen to a local folk music band surrounded by the rocky and snowy scenery. When we cross the Passo Gardena we realize we need to hurry up a bit if we want to reach Cortina in the afternoon.
Understandably, Aron often wants to stop to take pictures or repeat some runs or take deviations. When we reach again Corvara, closing the Sellaronda ring it’s pretty late for our schedule but we don’t really worry. So we decide to go to the Murin, a famous apres ski bar! We park our skis outside and soon we are dancing with our ski boots on and a huge glass of beer.
The place gets packed and is so much fun, we realize we will have to overnight in Corvara. This was not planned but it makes things even more fun. A bar attendant gives us some advice about where to eat and sleep. We find a little friendly family owned hotel. The breakfast is best ever!
The following morning is dedicated to exploring more slopes. After 3 hours, we start skiing our way back to Cortina. We decide to have a glamorous aperitivo and lunch at famous Rifugio Moritzino. There’s a DJ playing and people from everywhere are having fun. In the Dolomties, it is always surprising how you can find all the amenities you are looking for… glamorous or rustic, international or traditional.
Some slopes away from Moritzino we catch a ski bus that brings us to Passo Falzarego, on the way we can see another fortification from the great World War, a solid grey stonebuilding with small windows After the war and bombs, it’s still resisting the cold winters and strong winds of those elevations.
From Passo Falzarego we take the nearly flat slope that bring us to the bottom of the 5 Torri ski area, we are supposed to wait for a bus to reach Pocol ski area and then Cortina…a few kilometers away. Luckily we meet a friend with a small bus, a coach that was training with his kids, he offers us a lift straight to Cortina. We thank him when he drops us in town.
Now what we want is a warm shower but I receive a message, there is a old style costume party and dinner in a shelter over Mietres ski area and we are invited. So time for a quick shower and we restart the adventure! Aron could not be happier!
About Giuseppe Di Rienzo: Giuseppe is an Italian ski instructor and physical therapist. He has several winters of work experience between Italian and New Zealand ski resorts. His passions are mountains, travel and horses. As he often proudly tells people, he is from a small town on the Appennines mountains, Capracotta, that literally means ‘cooked goat’! You can read a few lines about this place in Hemingway’s, Farewell to Arms.
Currently working for Snowdreamers in Cortina D’Ampezzo, he really enjoys showing places and telling stories to people thirsty for experiences.
This article was written by yourfriend