Interested in the snowy side of the Italian Dolomiti? Follow this road map to the friendliest family lodging ever, and a local mountain whose slopes welcome all abilities and ages.
My husband and son and I spent a wonderful week a few winters ago in the Italian Dolomites, just east of Bolzano in the Val di Tires. It is about a four-hour ride from the Milano airport of Malpensa, due northeast, or a three-hour drive from Venice.
A Traditional Ski Resort at Val de Tires
This was not your typical state-of-the-art mountain resort, with music on the slopes and the latest model of super-fast chair lift, but it had plenty of slopes of various degrees of difficulty to suit me and the dozen plus adults and kids who joined us for an extended family vacation.
The resort at nearby Carezza, about 20 minutes away, has lessons for kids and adults given from 9am till 3pm. It is very organized for families, with a meeting place for all the children attending the ski school in a quiet spot right behind the ski lift. At Carezza, they probably have instructors who speak English if you ask (I didn't), as all of them speak German and Italian at the very least, and look as hip as any other ski instructor anywhere in the world.
The Val di Tires is one of tens of valleys in the Dolomites, and one of striking beauty. Apart from the views, which are spectacular, at around sunset on a clear day, the sky and the mountains reflect a pinkish red light for about an hour, making the views truly magical.
My Family-Run & Friendly Inn
We stayed in a hotel, The Dosses, which had been recently renovated and therefore was clean, spacious and very efficient. We were served an excellent breakfast of three kinds of muesli, home baked breads, the famous Spek kind of smoked prosciutto, cheeses, cooked and fresh fruits, and a delicious dinner, cooked by the owner's sons.
The place was entirely family-run and very friendly. The rooms were spacious enough for all of us, with a terrace and private bath, and the price, per person, was around 75€ per night! Kids were charged a little less (and all youngsters three and under are completely free). In the town of Tires, the only supermarket doubles as ski shop, and excellent gear can be rented there. Although not everything needs to be rented. During the winter season, The Dosses provides families with free rentals on: sleds, snow shoes and sliding tires.
The other reason why we liked this area so much is the surrounding region of the Sud Tirolo, which, if you are not a skier, has plenty of beautiful towns and sites to visit. We took a day trip to Bressanone and the wine region in the valley north of Bolzano, went ice skating, and visited castles and abbeys within an hour of the hotel. Since the Autostrada reaches all the way to Bolzano and then continues to the Brennero Pass, one could visit Austria from the Val di Tires in about an hour-and-a-half.
On the way back to Milano to see more family, we stopped on the Lake of Garda for lunch; the sun was barely out and the mist was rising from the lake. The kids were happy about their skiing progress, the food and the view were delicious… It was a wonderful end to a wonderful week.
P.S. I was surprised to hear that the hotel's main business comes from summer tourism! Apparently there are beautiful hikes to be taken all around these valleys from May till August, with many shelters for overnight stays. Summer rates are actually slightly higher, averaging around 85€ per night.
Trip Planning Details for Skiing in the Dolomiti
For more information or reservations, contact the Hotel Dosses – Tires; ( BZ) Fraz. San Cipriano (39/0471/64 21 95.) Driving directions from Milano are easy. On the Autostrada Mi-Venezia, turn at the Autostrada del Brennero, exit at Bolzano Nord and follow directions to Val di Tires.
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