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Travel: Living high life in an old Italian stomping ground

The spectacular jagged peaks of the Dolomites tower over so many fantastic ski runs
The spectacular jagged peaks of the Dolomites tower over so many fantastic ski runs

The pretty village of Campitello sits amid the sparkling Italian Dolomites. The unique craggy peaks, with their pinky-orange hue, were created from fossilised coral reefs, forced skyward as a result of the collision of African and European tectonic plates 250 million years ago.

The landscape glows in the sun and sparkles in the snow, offering dramatic, ever-changing panoramas. UNESCO awarded the area World Heritage status in 2009.

Campitello is on the Sella Ronda, the circuitous ski route that takes you back to where you started in a single day’s skiing. It is part of the Dolomiti Super-Ski area, which has 1,200km of pistes.

As newly empty nesters we knew that this holiday was going to be a bit different, both from our honeymoon experience here 24 years ago and the skiing holidays that we had enjoyed as a family with our now grown-up children.

We were always on a budget, but this time, with no youngsters to look after and with a less modest budget, we were quite happy to take our time in the mornings and enjoy all the resort had to offer.

Writer Alison and husband Douglas on the slopes

We stayed in a superb four-star hotel, the Rubino Executive, where we felt thoroughly cossetted. Half board included a delicious buffet breakfast and dinner was four courses – a salad buffet, followed by a hot starter, a main course and a sweet buffet.

The hotel had a wellness centre, with a heated pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Leaving your room in a robe and taking a short lift down to the spa was truly luxurious.

Plenty of fresh mountain air, exercise and soothing aftercare in the shape of a few lengths of a pool followed by a soak in a hot tub was exactly what the doctor ordered for us.

Campitello, in the Val Di Fassa, is a quiet rustic village, perfect for us, as we had bought books to read and we were looking to relax and recharge, but anyone seeking more varied and sophisticated nightlife might wish to look at Cervara, definitely the chicest village on the Sella Ronda, followed closely by Selva.

The Prada, Armani and Versace families all ski there and the ski school instructors enjoy wearing uniforms designed by these glorious design houses.

Restaurants en route were plentiful and varied.

Stunning stop-off points include the Alpina Lodge at the Boe lift, a modernist building set into a high crest, affording diners the most amazing views.

We fell in love with a quiet café on the orange route, at the top of the lift, just after the glass footbridge in Selva. I don’t know whether it is our age, but we were a little put off by the volume of the music pounding out from some of the bars!

The easy-to-follow signage made finding your way around a pleasure. Basically the green signs go round the Sella Ronda anti-clockwise and the runs are slightly easier, with more time on the lifts. Follow the orange signs to travel clockwise – the pistes are slightly more challenging and you spend less time on lifts. There are a lot of stunning red runs en route, a few blacks if you wish and some gentle, sweeping blues.

Après​-ski in Rubina’s Park Hotel

A day trip to Cortina was on offer, the upmarket ski resort where scenes from the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only were filmed. My inner Bond Girl was sorely tempted, but with so much to explore on our doorstep, I turned down this opportunity, which was combined with a visit to the Hidden Valley, a long red run where you are met at the end by a horse and cart to transport you back to the bus, however, I privately promised myself to do this next time.

The weather was fantastic and the snow conditions perfect, ensured by the excellent snow-making machinery.

On one day the visibility was poor and we chose to stay in the village rather than go up the hill and we walked through a beautiful forest trail, enjoying watching Nordic skiers and horse riders along the way.

The Sella Ronda is simply the perfect destination for a middle-aged couple still with some fire in their thighs, who love good food and little bit of exploring.


P.S. The Crystal Ski rep for the Val Di Fassa area, John Mancini-Johnstone, is a Scot, hailing from Peterculter, in Aberdeenshire. John skis in a kilt to raise money for Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK). If you spot him, ask him if you can take a photo and he will pop your Euro or whatever you choose to donate in his sporran for this wonderful cause.


Factfile

A week, half board, at the Hotel Rubino Executive with Crystal Holidays starts at £854 pp, based on two sharing, including flights from Edinburgh to Verona and transfers.
crystalski.co.uk 020 8610 3123