I’ve already written about my fantastic skiing holiday to the Dolomites, in northern Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige province, this past winter, and the town in the Val Gardena where we made our base, Selva di Val Gardena.
But the ‘historic’ town – always feels funny to use that term in Italy unless a town spans back millennia – in the Gardena Valley is Ortisei, also known by its German name of Sankt Ulrich or its Ladino name of Urtijëi.
This town’s past as a summer and winter sports destination began in the 1860s. This is when better road connections were created to and from the railway routes, thereby facilitating access to tourists who wished to come and admire this beautiful and picturesque corner of the Italian Alps.
The location was popular with English tourists and those of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. Both summer and winter sports were practiced here.
The churches have the traditional and distinctive onion dome more common to Austria than to Italy. And, in fact, German is widely spoken in this region, and Austrian specialties are found on the menus. Italian and Ladino are other official languages in Val Gardena, and English is widely spoken.
As you can see from the accompanying photo, the gondolas link you to neighboring ski slopes. Those visible right from town connect you with the Alpi di Siusi, and the ones found on the other side of town bring you back to Santa Cristina and Selva – and the Sella ronda I’ve already written about, which can take you off to numerous valleys and trails around the Dolomites.
So enjoy pretty Ortisei the next time you are in Italy’s Val Gardena. You’re certain to love this art deco Alpine hamlet.