Just Back From
Indagare's Abby Sandman reports on her "ski safari" in the Italian Dolomites.
An epic four-day adventure in the Dolomites, involving awe-inspiring cruising trails lined with sparkling ice walls, dramatic rock towers, the imposing ridgelines the region is famous for—and four days of delicious rifugio meals.
A red-eye to Venice, a drowsy flight and a two-hour car ride through the northern Italian countryside, and we arrived at the Ampezzo Valley, home of the famous ski town which will cohost the Winter Olympic Games for a second time in 2026. After wandering the village’s cobblestoned streets filled with colorful, Tyrolean-style buildings and shops, we retreated to Rosapetra SPA Resort, an oasis of peace and privacy just outside of town, with a tasty restaurant, a rejuvenating spa and spectacular sunsets.
We spent the day spring skiing at Cortina, tracing famous World Cup runs and trying a blend of Italian and Tyrolean cuisine—think spaghetti carbonara with fried apple pancakes for dessert—on the mountain at Ristorante Col Drusciè 1778. Our guide, Marika, was a former member of the Italian Women’s Ski Team with an intrepid and infectious spirit. After assuring us that our bags would be transported for us, she led us—on skis—from Cortina to Cinque Torri, where we would spend the night, mountainside, in a family-owned rifugio hut. Here, we were doted on by the owner’s kindly mother, who spoke very little English but was adamant that late afternoons were a time for snacks and wine, not tea.
After descending the Armentarola piste dwarfed by the sheer Fanes Mountains frosted with icy waterfalls, we lined up behind a horse-drawn carriage and were pulled to the Badia Valley and the Alta Badia ski area. Here, we enjoyed aperitivi at a slopeside wine cellar and took in the view from the mountaintop chef’s table at Ütia Bioch mountain hut, before enjoying fresh pasta at Las Vegas Lodge. We ended at Ciasa Salares, a food-and-wine-focused Alpine lodge outside of San Cassiano, where cheese and chocolate are like a religion.
On the slopes of Val Gardena, we encountered rock castles, World Cup start gates and delicious pizzas at Rifugio Friedrich August as we made our way around the sprawling and varied peaks. The journey and the afternoon ended with a stroll through the postcard-perfect town of Ortisei, home to Gardena Grödnerhof Hotel and its three-story, 20,000-square-foot spa—where we spent our last luxurious night reliving the high points of the experience.
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