Finally, we’re in a place with snow, everything is white, the streets are slippery and it sometimes snows so hard that snowflakes land on my face. I love it! It’s wintertime, finally, so it’s also the time to think about skis / snowboard – if you haven’t thought of them yet! 🙂 It’s true, until now the weather hasn’t encouraged us to think about winter destinations; the grey, undecided sky has rather inspired us to think about running away to a tropical country. Fortunately, there are places that have been filled with snow for a while and that will most probably remain like this for some time. South Tyrol is one of them – we had an opportunity to visit the region in the beginning of January and I’d like to come back there any time soon, now, immediately!
You’ve probably already read about our first impressions and you’ve had an opportunity to find out about the cuisine of the region – speck, round dumplings, spinach ravioli, cheeses, delicious gnocchi and filling pastas. Today’s post focuses on sport, or on things we had enjoyed in South Tyrol as skiers.
Let me just start by saying: I’m not an expert on skiing. I ski because I enjoy it, not to perfect my skills. I know a few people who are great skiers and I envy them, but well, you have to make choices in life! One person perfect her/his skiing technique whenever (s)he can, another chooses to drink coconut juice in Bangkok, visit Indian churches in Mexico and walk around Paris at the same time. It’s not a secret that we belong to the second group and that we try not to limit ourselves. Therefore, for us skiing is just one of the options for a winter travel – not the only option… However, I did fall in love with skiing once more in South Tyrol, and Łukasz fell in love with it for the first time, so we might change our approach, who knows? 🙂
Our 2014 skiing adventure started under unconventional circumstances. We left our base – the lovely town of San Candido / Innichen around 6:30 pm and headed towards the Haunold / Monte Baranci slope. It’s close, we could go by foot, dressed in our skiing outfits, and rent our gear at the slope. Night skiing? That’s a great idea, the only problem is that I haven’t skied since 2009 and that I had a 2-hour-long sleep before departure! And Łukasz went for just one short trip to Zakopane 10 or 12 years ago and since then he’s had nothing to do with skis.
I was wondering if I remember how it’s done… Well, they say that you don’t forget skiing! And it’s true: when I put on my boots, I felt much better, when I put on my skis I was happy and I cheerfully got on a chairlift. Schussing – perfect joy! Initially Łukasz had to struggle a bit, not to fall down, but he made it too! So, the warmup’s behind us – we’re ready for real slopes! And there’s plenty of them in South Tyrol and the Alta Pustería valley where we are staying!
Kronplatz is definitely one of the key resorts, you can’t miss it when you’re in the area. There’s a convenient transport, as the train brought us from San Candido straight to the aerial tramway! Kronplatz itself (located at 2 275 meters) has about 116 km of ski slopes and over 30 lifts! Madness! There are many people on pistes, despite the fact that it’s not even 10 am! Łukasz is practicing with an instructor, and I’m checking out various routes – mainly blue and red, although I’ve also tried a few black ones. It’s great but a bit crowded. There are gorgeous views on Alta Pustería, Dolomites, Austrian icebergs, but the views are less overwhelming in comparison to the ones I remember from Austria. Maybe it’s the fault of the crowds? On the other hand, I appreciate the breaks in skiing more, as I prefer the Italian cuisine to the Austrian cuisine, despite the local influences and my love for germknödel! There’s delicious bread with olive oil, ravioli, tagliatelle, and tiramisu for desert – a perfect energy shot for more schussing!
Kronplatz is impressive due to the opportunities it creates, but Giro del Cimme has charmed me even more. “Giro” is a 30-kilometer-long route going through 4 areas: Monte Elmo, Croda Rossa, Passo Monte Croce and Val Comelico. We have to take all possible means of transport to travel between slopes! Chairlift, aerial tramway, drag lift, bus, and even a moving belt when there’s a small hill to take. The belt reminds me of an airport and I must admit: this is my first time – I told you I’m not a ski expert, haven’t I? 🙂 Anyway, the Giro delle Cime route is PARADISE! Paradise for skiing and admiring views.
The route is very diverse – it constitutes of black routes (20%), blue routes (20%) and red routes (the rest). So there are very steep parts, even the most steep slope in Italy, but we also have wonderful ski pistes. I love them mainly because you can admire the views, stop for a moment in silence, slow down, appreciate the beauty around you. I love it when it’s empty and when I’m alone with a view, skis and my own thoughts at least for a moment. It’s gorgeous! There are plenty of moments like this in Giro delle Cime! But you have to remember that some ski pistes may get very flat and you have to use your muscles to finish them. Due to this I do not recommend the entire Giro to snowborders – unless you like to walk with your snowboard in your hands 🙂
We started Giro delle Cime in Versciaco, we took a lift, then we schussed down to Sesto, took a bus to Croda Rossa, afterwards to Monte Croce and Val Grande, and finally a bus to Val Comelico and for dinner on Col d’la Tenda. We returned to Versciaco again. The route took us the most of the day but we were traveling in a large group, so it’s always more difficult to keep the tempo… Anyway, I wasn’t in a hurry, I preferred to take breaks, admire views, take pictures… Take a look and see for yourselves if it was worth it! 🙂
Wonderful experiences associated with schussing and views during Giro delle Cime were of course accompanied by delicious food in mountain restaurants, especially gnocchi with smoked ricotta and butter – marvellous! 🙂 What more do you want?
Here are some basic info about the region:
* South Tyrol is the northernmost Italian province.
* There are approx. 30 skiing areas and Dolomiti SuperSki is the largest ski carousel of a system of 1200 km of pistes!
* Most of the pistes are open from the end of November / beginning of December until mid / end of April.
* There are about 1200 km from Poland to South Tyrol – a trip from Warsaw lasts 15 hrs, from Cracow 11 hrs – at least in theory 🙂 We haven’t checked it – we took a plane to Munchen and then a bus to San Candido/ Innichen.
* San Candido is a good base camp – a lovely little town, one slope in a walking distance (Haunold), it’s close to Versciaco, where you can start Giro delle Cime, and a train takes you directly to the aerial tram to Kronplatz.
* In 2009 the Dolomites were declared the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you have any questions, write to us or check out this website!
This post is the result of the collaboration with South Tyrol.