A skier’s paradise: Selva di Val Gardena, Italy

Selva di Val Gardena, ItalyI already wrote about skiing in the spectacular Dolomite Mountains (Dolomiti) in last week’s post.

This week, I’d like to concentrate on the little town of Selva di Val Gardena, which we used as our home base during our week-long skiing holiday. Selva – or its German name of Wolkenstein or the slightly tweaked Sëlva in Ladino – is one of three towns in the Val Gardena, the Gardena Valley.

Selva di Val Gardena, Italy

Views over Selva and the entire Val Gardena from the ski slopes

The other Val Gardena towns include Santa Cristina and perhaps the more famous Ortisei (Sankt Ulrich in German and Urtijëi in Ladino). The latter began as a summer and winter mountain resoort in the 19th century.

Although the whole valley is beautiful, Selva offers the most impressive connections to the 42-kilometer Sella Ronda ski tour trail (that I’ll write about more next week) that will connect you to many of the surrounding valleys and their beckoning trails.

Selva di Val Gardena, ItalyThis tiny town in the Alto Adige (Süd Tirol) segment of Italy’s region Trentino Alto Adige is perched at just over 1500 meters from sea level and swells far beyond its mere 2600 residents during its busy winter months.

It’s a pleasant town to wander and there are plenty of restaurants and bars offering après ski drinks. We never made it to the former, because our hotel fed us too well, nor to the latter because, well, we were pretty knackered after full days of skiing.

Selva di Val Gardena, ItalyHowever, we did get to the ice skating stadium (open in the afternoons/evenings for skating for those of you who can still feel your legs after skiing and didn’t get enough exercise during the day) one evening to watch ice hockey. Yes, Selva sports its very own professional ice hockey team and we watched them play – and sadly lose to – neighboring Cortina.

Okay, this may not seem like such a big deal to you, but I grew up loving hockey, watching it and occasionally playing for fun with friends back in college – but I never, ever see ice hockey in Rome, where it almost doesn’t exist.

Selva di Val Gardena, ItalyThis was a first for my kids and my husband, too, who had never seen the sport live and got a kick out of the speed of the sport and the fights that break out consistently. I also got a kick out of seeing so many paesani – in this case, Americans – on the teams. So don’t miss out on cheering for the home team – Val Gardena – of you are in Selva.

If you’re looking for a great place to stay, we loved our time in the Hotel Fanes: a friendly, family-run environment, excellent food, a lovely location overlooking the town and excellent après ski activities more along the lines of what I’m looking for: an outdoor Jacuzzi, Scandinavian sauna and various indoor saunas … just what I needed each day for my sore muscles.

Selva di Gardena was a wonderful find for my family and me, and as avid hikers, we’ll definitely be finding our way back here in the summertime, too, to enjoy some of these trails and spectacular mountain views framed by green grass and mountain flowers. Already looking forward to next time!

Selva di Val Gardena, Italy

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