Five of the best ski resorts for food lovers in the Italian Dolomites
From Alpine farm suppers to Michelin-starred restaurants, explore five of the best culinary destinations in Italy's most spectacular ski area.
With its breathtaking scenery and picture-perfect resorts, skiing in the Dolomites can feel like an out of this world experience. The distinctive peaks of Italy’s northeastern corner may not be the Alps’ tallest, but they have a uniquely high-rise effect, shooting from valley to summit in a sheer curtain of rock, strikingly beautiful when dusted in snow.
In the region’s UNESCO World Heritage heart, the Dolomiti Superski is a vast and varied ski destination, where one ski pass gives visitors access to 15 ski resorts and a whopping 745 miles of slopes in Veneto, Trentino and South Tyrol. The legendary four-valley Sellaronda ski circuit is just the tip of the iceberg, a marathon 25-mile route circling the gnarly Gruppo del Sella massif.
And the food? Sensational. Beyond the pistes, a raft of talented chefs raid the forests and mountains for ingredients to pep up season-spun menus at mountain inns, huts and restaurants glittering with Michelin stars. Wild game, berries and mushrooms, Alpine herbs, smoked meats and farm-fresh dairy products pop up on menus that blend Italian finesse with South Tyrolean heartiness.
1. Alta Badia
The pinnacle of fine dining in the Dolomites, Alta Badia has lured some of the region’s hottest chefs to its kitchens and now shines with Michelin stars. The Holy Grail is three-Michelin-starred St. Hubertus at Hotel Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano. Putting boldly creative riffs on meticulously sourced local ingredients, Chef Niederkofler stays true to his ‘cook the mountain’ motto, using mountain pine, juniper, flowers, wild meats and berries in dishes that sing of the Alps.
Ski it: Easily reached from San Cassiano, the 4.5-mile Armentarola piste is renowned as one of the most beautiful descents in the Dolomites. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll be towed behind a horse-drawn carriage back into the main ski area.
2. Val di Fassa
In Val di Fassa, you’ll find plenty of wood-panelled, fire-warmed mountain huts where you can dig into the area’s heart-warming local specialities as the snow falls outside. Rooted in traditional mountain cooking, these dishes are big on simple, natural flavours, with whispers of Austrian cuisine. For a table with a view, head to Refugio Friedrich August, accessible in the winter only on skis. The meat used here is sourced directly from the Refuge’s own organic farms and even in the coldest months you’ll often find herds of Highland cattle grazing just beneath the large sun terrace.
Ski it: After lunch, ski the 3-Tre red run and catch the gondola across to Belvedere, a gentle, sunny area that’s perfect for families.
3. Cortina d’Ampezzo
Renowned for stylish sophistication, Cortina d’Ampezzo hasn’t forgotten its rural roots — as you’ll find if you head up into the larch forest-clad mountains to a family-run agriturismo (a farm designed to host guests). At timber-lined El Brite de Larieto, chef Riccardo Gaspari serves up organic produce from the family farm: canederli (dumplings) with melted Alpine butter, gnocchi stuffed with artichoke, beef goulash, and panna cotta made with milk from their own cows.
Ski it: It’s been over 40 years since James Bond hit the slopes of Cortina in For Your Eyes Only, but skiers can still follow in his tracks on the Stratofana Olimpica piste — now a legendary women’s World Cup run.
4. Val Gardena
The Dolomites fling up like natural fortifications above folksy Val Gardena. Alongside its classic ski runs and glorious powder, it’s also a terrific place to pop a cork on a bottle of South Tyrolean wine. At Riffeser Vinotheque, sommeliers whisk you through the nuances of local wines: from full-bodied, velvety Lagrein reds to spicy, floral Gewürztraminer whites. Go for a tasting and stock up in the shop. Or, sip local vintages while nibbling on a sharing platter of mountain cheese and speck at bottle-lined La Cërcia Vinotheque.
Ski it: Take on the ‘Legendary 8’, an itinerary that knits together the valley’s eight best slopes (including the World Cup Saslong run) in one heart-pumping, thigh-burning ski.
Perched at a snow-sure 5,250ft, Arabba is one of the highest resorts in the Dolomites, and a place where cooking stays true to Alpine tradition. Refuel mid-ski at Rifugio Burz, where a large sun terrace and modern interior blend seamlessly with traditional tastes. Here, specialities include casunciei (half-moon-shaped pasta with a variety of fillings) and mountain casserole with venison meatballs and plum sauce. For a lighter bite, opt for one of the meticulously prepared and locally sourced antipasti plates.
Ski it: Expect fantastic snow conditions on the long descents of the Marmolada Glacier, which caps off the Dolomites at 10,965ft.
Plan your trip
Venice and Innsbruck are the most convenient international airports for reaching the region, both are around a 2 to 2.5-hour drive away. Cortina Express offers a shuttle service. Once there, it’s worth booking the Dolomiti Superski Pass, which gives you easy access to cable cars, funiculars and chairlifts in the region’s 15 ski resorts and 745 miles of slopes.
For more information, visit dolomitisuperski.com
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