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Val di Fiemme - Where Foodies Meet Outdoor Junkies
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19 May 2019
If you have been coming to the Dolomites over the past 10 years or so, you have probably noticed the significant increase in international visitors. Whilst in the past, Italians and Germans were the main languages spoken on the pistes, these days the cultural mix is much greater with a myriad of nationalities from all over the world. This inflow of visitors is not surprising - the Dolomiti Superski is blessed with some of the best ski terrains in the world, breathtaking panoramas, delectable dishes, yet still a reasonable value-for-money proposition. The area that attracts most visitors are the 4 fully interconnected ski resorts surrounding the Sella massif (Val Gardena, Val di Fassa, Arabba and Alta Badia), the getaways to one of the most amazing ski trail circuit in the world, the famous Sella Ronda.
Although the resorts manage to deal well with the booming crowds - constantly upgrading the facilities and adding new ones, ensuring a a top-notch ski and snowboard experience - if you are looking for a truly peaceful and relaxed spot away from it all, you may want to check out the other ski resorts covered by the Dolomiti Superski skipass. Although the ski areas are more scattered, the skiing and scenery are equally sensational and you are more likely to experience the real essence of the Dolomites and learn about the territory's vivid traditions and powerful history.
Val di Fiemme could be the best place to start. The valley really epitomises the authentic hospitality of the Dolomites. Unlike some other parts of the Dolomites, the vibe is decisively Italian here. It is less about sporting excellence and more about enjoying the skyline over some great leisurely lunch in a rustic mountain rifugio.
The valley is surrounded by the Trudner Horn Nature Park to the west and the craggy Latemar mountain range and the Schwarzhorn to the north. To the east, it is bordered by the Pale di San Martino massif and the Parco Paneveggio Pale nature reserve - an unspoilt secluded natural treasure. The landscape is heart-stopping with cathedrals of rock giving way to gentle meadows, pastures and picturesque alpine villages.
Come in spring or summer and set off on a high altitude hike. The valley is a real paradise for mountaineers and hikers with some incredibly scenic walks. In total there are 126 hiking trails and 28 long distance hiking trails. The most popular itineraries include the hike to the Torre di Pisa Rifugio, a 9km circular trail starting in Pampeago or the slightly longer but less challenging hike above the Lusia lakes providing unforgettable views of the alpine lakes. Hikes to the spectacularly positioned Rifugio Valjolet and RifugioRe Alberto are also popular, starting in the neighbouring Pozza di Fassa, but easily accessible from Val di Fiemme. Don't forget to book yourself to the QC Terme, a beautiful terme that aim to recreate and continue the tradition of the Imperial Roman baths when the terme were a social life destination and a place to get back physical wellness and regenerate the soul.
In winter, the countryside converts into the perfect alpine fairytale scenery and offers entirely different adventures on the snow. The valley is a real delight for skiers and snowboarders, beginners or advanced alike. The Val di Fiemme comprises 5 ski areas: Alpe Cermis (accessed from Cavalese), Ski Center Latemar (accessed from Predazzo, Pampeago and Obereggen), Alpe Lusia (accessed from Bellamonte or Moena), Passo Rolle and Oclini. Together, a solid 112km of slopes with a balanced mix of difficulty - 37km blue, 58km red and 17km black ski runs and 45 lifts. Conveniently, you have 3 options when it comes to ski passes - the Val di Fiemme / Obereggen ski pass, the new "Valle Silver" ski pass covering also the nearby Val di Fassa, San Martino di Castrozza and San Pellegrino areas or the full Dolomiti Superski ski pass.
Fed up with busy slopes and no table at a ski hut when you want to grab lunch? Then Val di Fiemme is the right winter destination for you that will keep surprising you. Each of the smaller ski stations of the valley offer a special experience, different type of ski terrain and wonderful vistas.
But whenever you come, make sure you spend at least as much time as skiing or hiking discovering the local culinary scene. The mouth-watering cuisine of the Dolomites comes in different shapes and forms, but excellent local ingredients are always the basis. Whether you like simple low-profile rustic mountain huts with rough-on-the-edges hearty meals or prefer fine-dining and tasting molecular cuisine produced by world-known chefs, you will find it here. Hiking trails and slopes are dotted with traditional rifugi serving delicious and reasonably priced local produce. The local "Ladin" cuisine has its roots in the farm cuisine when only few ingredients were available. Long time ago, the communities of the Dolomites, secluded in the high-elevated mountains, were cut off from the rest of Italy and had to become almost entirely self-sufficient. This way they got creative with their ingredients paving the way to some famous local staples. Canederli, breaded dumplings flavoured with cheese or prosciutto, are possibly the most prominent Ladin dish which definitely encapsulates the simple yet delicious spirit of the cuisine. But there are many others, including spätzle, the sweet kaiserschmarrn or casiunzei, pumpkin ravioli with ricotta and melted butter. Many dishes come decorated with edible alpine flowers and are a complete visual marvel. For a truly unique gastronomic experience, try the 15-course tasting menu in El Molin, a fine-dining restaurant in Cavalese where the chef Alessandro Gilmozzi serves some unusual ingredients such as lichens and combines antique recipes with modern cooking techniques.
The perfect place to base yourself to explore the Val di Fiemme is the pretty town of Cavalese. There is a nice historic centre with shops showcasing local handicrafts and arts typical to this area and the imposing bell tower of the church of San Sebastiano dominates the town. A pleasant walk around the town features several natural and man-made monuments. Make sure to visit the Parco della Pieve with the “Banco de la reson”, a sort of ancient parliament where the members of the "Magnifica Comunità di Fiemme", a self-governed territory used to discuss the matters of the valley in the 12th century. Incredibly, the institution is still active today and has been entrusted with the management of the plentiful woodlands of the valley. Another highlights are the waterfall of Cavalese and the century old tree “Pezo del Gazolin". Cavalese hosts an array of international sporting events, including the Marcialonga, a cross-country skiing marathon.
So no matter when you decide to come, your trip should be an unforgettable one and you will immediately feel your stress levels plummet. Val di Fiemme is a pure delight any time of the year and will no doubt delight you with its blend of hospitality, great food, stunning sceneries and wallet-friendly prices.
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