TRAVEL ITALY – Christmas in the Dolomites

December 6th, 2010

Arabba. Image:: Collett’s

Words | Maddy Alexis

I remember going to Arabba for a family snowboarding holiday two Christmases ago and what a special one it was. The snow was fluttering down on Christmas Eve, then on Christmas Day we woke up to blue bird sky, freshly groomed runs and stacks of powder to ride all day long. For the remainder of the week we had magnificent weather and great snow and it was definitely a holiday that will never be forgotten.

The skiing and snowboarding areas in and near Arabba are extensive due to it being apart of the Dolomites and its ‘superski lift pass’ which encompasses 450 lifts. There is a total of 30 lifts in Arabba resort, the highest being at 3342m above sea level. It is quite a sight catching a chair lift up the mountain with the sun shining and snow-covered trees leading the way, which we had every day during our stay there. The snow was always light and fluffy- perfect conditions for carving it up.

Along with the numerous runs in Arabba there are also a few day trips that you can do such as The Marmolada, which is definitely a must do on your trip to Arabba, it is the largest glacier in the whole of the Dolomites and can be reached by a short cable car ride to the very top. The view from the top is exquisite and makes a great photo! From here you can enjoy a massive 12km long run of fresh snow to the very bottom. But my personal favourite thing that we did on our trip to Arabba was ‘The Hidden Valley’. A bus and a short gondola ride took us to the top of a mountain where we rode down to a gorgeous frozen waterfall. We couldn’t believe our eyes looking up at the majestic frozen colours pouring out of the rock face, it was the most surreal thing I’d ever seen! We then got towed back to the bus by a horse and cart, which was very exciting for everyone.

Fresh pow in Arabba

The Sella Ronda is also a very fun one-day adventure. it’s a string of uphill lifts and downhill runs through five resorts which makes a circuit that can be done clockwise or anticlockwise and will bring you back to your starting point without having to unclip a single ski boot or binding.

The village of Arabba is small but full of charm. In the centre of the village there is a little old church and also an ice skating rink, which is lots of fun to skate around in. When I went to the ice-skating rink, we played a small friendly game of ice hockey with some local kids, which was loads of fun! Being there at Christmas time there was lots of Christmas spirit with fireworks on Christmas Eve, do-your-own ice carvings in the street and people on stilts dressed up in funny costumes walking around. The food was amazing, on Christmas night we had a big banquet of Italian pasta, pork and pudding, the best ever.

Arabba is a great family orientated resort where adults can drop off their kids in the friendly ski school where they are sure to learn a lot, meet new friends and have loads of fun. My most memorable experience in Arabba was when it snowed half a metre over night and the next day was blue bird. We spent the whole day from when the lift opened in the morning to the very last one of the day riding the powder that had fallen the night before and we were amazed with how much snow there actually was.

Quick Facts

  • Total Km of Piste: 62km
  • Top Elevation: 3,260m
  • Village Elevation: 1612m
  • Total lifts: 30
  • Longest run: 16km.
  • Slopes: Beginner 10%, Intermediate. 50%, Advanced. 40%
  • Season starts 1 Dec ends 10 March

Travel notes
One of the charms of Arabba is its removal from the hustle and bustle of the world, which means International travellers will need to pay a visit to a regional airport in order to reach the Italian hamlet. Innsbruck Airport, just over the boarder in Austria, is a sizable thoroughfare, though the closest airport is Bolzano, 75km away. Arabba has some luxury hotel options, but the best places to stay are the small family run guest houses with their warmth and hospitality. Of course, the dining is excellent!