Alta Badia - Dolomites, Italy - The Italian Aspen

The Alta Badia region of the Dolomites is a world class skiing destination unique in it's beauty, culture and cuisine. The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This specific valley of the Dolomites mountains consists of six towns: Corvara, San Cassiano, Badia, La Villa, La Val and Colfosco. Alta Badia is also known as Sud Tirol or Sud Tyrol. This confuses people. I'm talking about myself here. Well, as it turns out, they are one in the same. It depends on your perspective; if you are looking at it from an Italian or an Austrian-German point of view (it's way more complex than that having to do with annexing after the war, google it for more info).  Most signage contains both names.  It's Ladin culture and language are well preserved.  Alta Badia is home to 3 Michelin star restaurants. Michelin is cheap with those stars, so this is a high concentration! It has become a foodie destination and hosts as many amazing cuisine events as skiing events. It is an uncrowded, wholesome winter wonderland for kids.  Ski schools abound. The people here are warm and hospitable and the ski instructors are highly skilled.  Let's not forget that the area is also home to my favorite cocktail: the Hugo!  As if the local hiking, skiing, apres-ski imbibing, fine dining and shopping in Alta Badia is not enough, Cortina is a 40 minute drive away. A bit more glam.

There's no mistaking those ragged peachy-pink rock formations as you arrive by car. 

Arriving into the Dolomites by car

The nice thing about skiing here is that the runs are within the tree line. It is so amazingly  beautiful, runs are wide, but also protected from harsh wind. It is more similar to Aspen than Switzerland, where most runs are above the tree line and exposed.

Alta Badia

On the slopes you'll find lots of places to stop for hot chocolate or lunch. If you are out of skiing-shape you'll appreciate this as much as I did.  Las Vegas restaurant is a popular destination, pictured below.

Las Vegas

All of the six villages have ski schools. The children below are very happy after the trophy ceremony in San Cassiano.  Parents love it too. It is affordable and you get to enjoy the slopes as well. Baby sitting with perks. Starting from age 3, kids are put into groups based on their level. They ski until lunch time except the last two days, when they'll have a fun lunch with their instructors and group. The week of lessons ends with a mini slalom "competition" complete with gates, finish line & trophies!

San Cassiano Ski School Trophy Ceremony


Restaurant Recommendations:

Rosa Alpina Hotel, for drinks & the more casual Wine Bar & Grille for delicious pizza. The property also has a 2 Michelin Star restaurant: St. Hubertus, San Cassiano

Baita Pie Tofana for lunch or dinner, Cortina D'Ampezzo

La Tana Dell'Orso "The Bear Den" for lunch or dinner with children, Badia

Armentarola Hotel for lunch right off the slopes on the sundeck (also accessible by car)  or dinner inside the beautiful "mountain modern" hotel's dining room, San Cassiano

La Sieia, dinner, San Cassiano

La Stua De Michil, La Perla Hotel, for fancy (Michelin Star) but cozy-chic dinner in Corvara

 

 

 

 

 

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Italy's Refreshing Summer Cocktails

HUGO

 

This refreshing drink is becoming increasingly popular in all of Italy, but originated in the Alto Adige / South Tyrol area.  It is a sort of light, European Mojito. Here in Lake Como it is not nearly as common as the Aperol Spritz.  Only a few restaurants on the lake make it. The Hugo is on Villa D'Este's drinks menu but the luxe hotel uses St. Germain liqueur in leu of Elderflower syrup (Elderflower syrup is non-alcoholic).  Both cocktails are yummy!

Hugo (pronounced "Ugo")

5 or so fresh Mint leaves

Ice

150 ml Prosecco

100 ml Soda water

1 Lime (juiced & strained)

1 T of Elderflower Syrup, or Holunder Syrup

Recipe:  Muddle the mint leaves in the glass a bit to release the flavor.  Fill glass with ice cubes. Next add the prosecco to the glass, then add soda water, lime juice & elderflower syrup.  Give it a stir.

APEROL SPRITZ

Aperol Spritz

Ice

Prosecco

1 T Aperol (cousin of Campari)

Splash of Soda water

One 2" shaving of Orange peel

Recipe: Fill glass with ice cubes. Fill 3/4 of the glass with prosecco then add a tablespoon of Aperol, a splash of soda water and a shaving of orange peel.  Alternatively, you can add a slice or wedge of orange to replace the section of orange peel.

Aperol Spritz Variation

The Marketplace Restaurant in Como serves their Aperol Spritz with a shaving of lemon, as opposed to orange giving the drink a nice, refined taste.  I prefer it since Aperol aperitif contains bitter orange flavor already. The shaving of lemon, as opposed to orange, adds complexity.

 

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