Situated in the natural basin at the foot of the Sella massif, the Alta Badia region is considered the heart of the Dolomites. After I personally experienced its breathtaking landscape, centuries-old culture, delicious cuisine, the warmth of the locals, and wide range of winter activities, now I can totally understand why it is the ideal holiday destination for the winter lovers.
WHERE TO STAY
Located in the charming mountain village of San Cassiano, right beneath the peaks Lavarella and Conturines, Hotel Rosa Alpina (with its 52 rooms and suites) has been run by the Pizzinini family for three generations. What I love most about the hotel are its unpretentious character, attention to the environment, easy access to the ski slopes, extensive spa, and exquisite cuisines. It is an absolute must to dine at their in-house three Michelin star restaurant “St. Hubertus” led by the executive chef Norbert Niederkofler (more on this restaurant below).
Hotel Rosa Alpina (Strada Micurà de Rü, 20, 39036 San Cassiano BZ, Italy)
a. Hotel Rosa Alpina’s indoor pool with a spectacular view.
b. You can enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant Limonaia
c. Enjoying cheese fondue with Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 (Ref. IW344203)
WHAT TO DO IN WINTER
Alta Badia is a wonderful ski resort with stunning views and well maintained pistes. Even though it is not common knowledge, this ski resort together with the Sella Ronda and Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of the largest ski resorts of the whole of Europe. This one by itself has approximately 131 km of slopes. Colfosco, Corvara, La Valle, La Villa, Pedraces and San Cassiano are all part of this ski resort and the 51 ski lifts connect the villages to each other. It is a perfect ski resort for families with children, beginning and intermediate skiers. I also like the fact that the queues here are small at the lifts.
Considered as the oldest sporting art on skis, cross-country skiing is an elegant and healthy type of sport that can be easily learned by people of all ages. In the Alta Badia region, which is knowns for its long tradition of cross-country skiing, there are more than 40 km of well-prepared runs for skaters and cross-country skiers. I found it therapeutical to glide through the snow with the magnificent landscape of the Dolomites. You really need to try it and experience that feeling of freedom. I believe it will put a big smile on your face.
If you prefer going off the beaten path like I do, then strapping snowshoes under your feet and going into the deep snow would be perfect activity for you. There is a stunning hike that starts in San Cassiano (where Hotel Rosa Alpina is), then goes through snow-covered meadows and forests and finally reaches the Valparola Alp.
WHERE TO EAT
St. Hubertus (Three Michelin Stars)
Situated in the mountain retreat of Rosa Alpina, this alpine restaurant was first established as a pizzeria. It evolved over the years under the executive chef Norbert Niederkofler to become an award-winning three Michelin-starred and one Michelin-green-starred restaurant. Inspired by the breathtaking Dolomite mountains, Norbert used his expert skills and knowledge of the local ingredients to produce a revolutionary menu that captures the essences of Alpine and Ladin flavors. His philosophy “Cook the Mountain” focuses on highlighting the unique South Tyrol’s gastronomic culture and promoting sustainable agriculture. The dishes are beautiful, delicate, flavourful and surprising at the same time. Whilst Norbert leads the kitchen, chief sommelier/restaurant manager Lukas Gerges handles the wine with an impeccable depth of knowledge. Overall, it is a truly an amazing culinary experience that you do not want to miss. Insider tip: definitely ask for chef’s table if you want to watch Norbert and his kitchen team in action.
Rifugio Ütia de Bioch
This is a typical Ladin mountain hut, which has spectacular views. It is located close to a few popular lifts and has a big sun terrace, a bar and a restaurant (with extensive wine list) where they serve simple and tasty dishes from the local cuisine. It is the perfect lunch stop during skiing. The owner Markus and the staff are very friendly and provide prompt service. Try homemade Tyrolean spinach-spätzle or simply enjoy an espresso with a Sacher torte!
—Exterior of St. Hubertus Restaurant at Hotel Rosa Alpina
—Lunch at Rifugi Col Alt
Rifugi Col Alt
This is the perfect place to experience authentic Italian cuisine with a panoramic view. This cosy mountain hut can be reached by cable car.
Share mixed starter platter with your friends and do not leave without tasting the tiramisu or the strudel. My favourite dish here is tagliatelle with ragout.
Ütia Rifugio Sponata
Located at the altitude of 1750 m, this mountain hütte is run by Werner Castlunger and his wife Ivana. They offer a mix of German/Austrian and Italian cuisine. Must try dishes here are venison carpaccio, venison ragout, spaghetti carbonara and polenta. And to finish, the Kaiserschmarrn with a cup of delicious espresso.
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