I had long wanted to give skiing a second chance and I had missed spending holidays surrounded by the beautiful Alps. It was actually the first time I booked holidays in short notice – one month in advance, but was as smooth as if I had planned 6 months in advance. Ski holidays in the Alps is as popular as beach holidays in the Mediterranean coast and there are some resorts fully booked just after September. I went in the Carnival week, which after the Christmas holidays, is high-season for this type of holidays. Therefore the earlier you plan and book it, the better.
You may wonder where in the Alps you should go?
In the past I spent numerous Carnival holidays with my family in the Austrian Alps, so this time I wanted to go somewhere new. Since I was also visiting some friends in Innsbruck, ideally 2 hours by car seemed reasonable to me: and so I chose the Dolomites in Italy, more precisely Cavalese in the Trentino Region
From my experience I can recommend in the Austrian Alps: Ischgl, Alpbach, Ellmau and if you are up for something fancier: Kitzbühel
In the Italian Alps: Madonna di Campiglio, Cavalese, Fai della Paganella and if you want the lap of luxury: worldwide known Cortina d’Ampezzo.
I will focus on my stay in Cavalese, as I said.
The very first question you will surely ask is how to get there and which means of transport you should use?
Being a fancy explorer, I do not want to rely exclusively on public transport (also because I love moving around and discovering new places on my own), thus it was very clear for me to rent a car. I would recommend renting an automatic car with GPS and of course winter tyres. I booked it at Europcar at Munich Airport with insurance against all risks (it is worth the investment), got an automatic Opel Astra and was very happy on the road with it. For Austria you will need to buy a 10-day motorway Vignette which will cost you around €15 and in Italy you pay the normal road toll.
Fancy road food tips: when on the motorway, there can also be some very tasteful and high quality food options – in Austria, stop at Rosenberger or Gusticus. You can even buy some souvenirs, such as Mozart Kugel or the biscuit Manner.
Dolomites Panorama while driving
A small panoramic stop in the Dolomites Roadtrip
And to which airport should I fly to?
Well that will depend on the location of your resort. The most luxurious hotels do offer shuttle services, however the Alps are also very well connected (for those who do not rent a car) via Alp Taxi. Prices vary on the number of people and pieces of luggage, but count on €200 both ways.
I would say flying to Munich, Milan or Zurich would be the most convenient options, from those airports you have a wide range of options and are centrally located. I chose Munich, because on my first night I wanted to go to Innsbruck and it is just 2 hours away – flying to Innsbruck is tricky, because pilots need to have special training, there are much fewer flights and can be terribly expensive, especially in high season. From Munich to Cavalese is anyway just 4 hours away by car and the Dolomites landscape is just breathtaking 😊 – Check pictures below!
When I arrived in Cavalese, I checked in at my hotel Bellavista Hotel 4*. It is one of the very best in the area and if on ski holidays, I recommend booking a hotel with spa, not just for the comfort, but also because after skiing you will arrive so exhausted, staying at a hotel which offers sauna and whirlpool can make a difference in your resistance.
I really enjoyed my stay at this hotel, first and foremost because of the kindness of the employees and the wide and healthy options available at breakfast. Secondly because I had a mountain view room (check below), it had a garage and for skiers: it has a ski equipment deposit room and the ski bus stop is just in front of the hotel. I was pleasantly surprised the price already included the Trentino Card, which among the discounts in several attractions, also includes free ski bus. Thirdly, it is centrally located in the heart of Cavalese.
For a 4* hotel, I just think rooms were a bit small and I wish there was a minibar in the room. However during my 4 nights I really felt at home.
Room with a mountain view at Hotel Bellavista in Cavalese
What should I do before booking ski classes? – Check List
So you arrive at your hotel and you want to book some ski classes. My Check-List includes the following:
CLOTHING and ACCESSOIRES:
- Buy or pack thermic underwear. I bought this set at Mountain Pro
- Buy or pack fleece lined jacket. I bough this one from Columbia
- Buy or pack ski socks (your legs will thank you!) For socks I always trust FALKE
- Buy or pack ski trousers. I bought these dark blue ones from ROXY
- Buy or pack a thermic ski jacket. I bought mine at a Czech brand ALPINE PRO (you can check my pictures for the equipment)
- Buy or rent a ski helmet. I use this one from ALPINA
- Buy or rent ski goggles. I use these from ALPINA
- Buy or pack snow boots. Ideally a model with GORE-TEX. I have these ones from TIMBERLAND
- When you arrive at the main lifts or ski area in the resort, you have to buy the ski pass which will enable you to access and ski the entire area, using all facilities available.
- If you are not a skier and do not have the entire equipment, you will have to rent it at the next ski clothing store. This equipment is not included in the ski class and normally it will be ski boots, ski poles and of course the skis.
- Take a ski bag or a light bag with you if you will spend the whole day skiing. Take a few cards and cash, because there will always be restaurants and refreshments in the ski area.
- Book a private or group ski class, depending on your goals and availability (normally ski group courses can only be booked, if you practice for a minimum of 4 days).
- Have a look at the ski area on the map to make sure which lifts you should take and which slopes to adventure yourself at: remember blue for beginners, red for intermediate and black for experts!
- Do not miss the Après Ski scene at many of the bars in the ski area !
In Cavalese I chose Alpe Cermis Ski school and I was very happy with the service! My teacher was great and after 2 classes, I even adventured myself alone on a blue slope. On high season a private class will cost you around €45-50 for 1 hour.
Fancy Explorer skiing in Alpe Cermis
What to see in Cavalese?
Cavalese is a pretty small mountain village with a very picturesque landscape.
There are not many sights, but include the following:
- Church San Sebastiano
- Parco della Pieve
- Center of Contemporary Arts
What to buy in Cavelese?
- Homemade Dolomites Appelstrudel from Cose Buone da Paolo. It is just amazing and if you are lucky and it is still served warm, straight after coming from the oven it will be heaven on your mouth. I must admit I prefer it to the Austrian one, sorry fellow Austrians, it is Paolo’s fault!
- Polenta, Venison ragout and wild mushrooms. They are the main core ingredients of Trentino cuisine. It is a mountain area, so game is widely appreciated.
- Venison all around, from ragout to bacon or salami. The store Delizie Welponer is a must stop.
- Homemade grappa There is no better store like Eder Officina Naturale, which are experts in these. I bought for my father Rosa Canina.
- Appelstrudel, blueberry/raspberry jams
- Dolomites honey
And what about Trentino Cusine?
Trentino is a mountain area, very close to the border with Austria, therefore its cuisine reflects this geographical localization.
For me, as a polenta, mushroom and game lover I felt in heaven. Yes, you guessed right: wild mushrooms, polenta and game (more precisely venison) are its core ingredients. One of my favourite meals was tagliattele with venison ragout, venison steak with polenta, polenta with wild mushrooms and wild mushrroms with Val di Fiemme mountain cheese. In terms of desserts, you cannot miss Appelstrudel, especially the one from Cose Buone da Paolo.
I can recommend you the following restaurants:
- Costa Salici (Michelin guide). My menu included: aperitif – cornetto filled with gorgonzola; entrée – wild mushrooms with raclette cheese and peas; main dish – venison steak with polenta and dessert – pear in port wine with pepper icecream and cantucci. (see pictures below).
- Lanterna Verde. Homemade, very tasteful dishes. I had tagliatelle with venison ragout
- Al Cantuccio. Homemade, very friendly atmosphere. I had wild mushroms with Val di Fiemme cheese and followed the suggestion of roastbeef with vegetables, which was great.
Costa Salici Restaurant
Aperitif at Costa Salici Restaurant – Cornetto filled with Gorgonzola
Entrée at Costa Salici Restaurant – Wild mushrooms with raclette cheese and peas
Main Dish at Costa Salici Restaurant – Venison steak with polenta
Dessert at Costa Salici Restaurant – Pear in Port wine with pepper icecream and cantucci
So you actually travelled to Italy during the coronavirus outbreak. How was it?
I was lucky. I was lucky Cavalese was not affected or considered a risky area. People were extremely understanding and friendly.
Obviously I used my common sense and took precautionary hygienic measures:
- Washing hands frequently
- Avoiding crowded environments
- Avoiding hotel spas or public swimming pools
But in Cavalese I was skiing all the time and 100% focused on this new sport, so I did not even had the time to think about any potential dangers. Of course I read the newspaper daily and followed the news.
On the way back to Germany I must say I was surprised at Brennero/Brenner there were not any kind of controls. Employees were just using gloves, we paid €10 toll and it was it. On the German border, there were police patrol cars.
As a matter of public safety and precaution by the Portuguese Health Authorities, for 14 days I am under social isolation (not quarantine because I do not have any symptoms) and I am doing home office. Every day I measure my temperature, check if there are signals of any other symptoms, I avoid crowded places, but of course I go out for example strolling at a park or at the beach. So far everything so good.
Never have I regretted for a single second my trip or have I ever considered it was risky. Had it been the case, as a responsible traveller, I would have changed my plans accordingly.
I learnt how to ski, I developed a new passion for a sport, I promised myself every year to go on ski holidays for a week and I discovered another part of Italy still very much unknown to me.
The whole situation is of course worrying, but I am not a health expert and it is not up to me to comment it. I just believe in technological and medicine evolution and I am confident a vaccination will come soon or at least more will be known about this virus.
For now I am waiting for the 15th March 2020 to get back to my normal life and will adapt my travel plans to the evolution of the situation. If they are to be on standby they will, if they are risky, I will not travel and so on.
See you around fancy travelers! Let me know what you think of my ski holidays!