The 26km Sellaronda circuit around the Sella Massif ski area in the Italian Dolomites is incredibly scenic. Suitable for intermediates, it can be skied clockwise or anti-clockwise in a day, allowing time for espresso stops in the surrounding villages that have a blend of Austrian heritage and Italian elegance.
Well-known by ski racing fans for hosting the annual FIS World Cup’s Super G and the Men’s Downhill, the valley is also famed for its wood carvings by Ladin craftsmen. Selva, also called Wokenstein, was part of Austria for many years and retains its Tirolean charm. From the village there are two gondolas: the Ciampinoi gondola heads south for the anti-clockwise Sellaronda route and the Dantercëpies gondola for the clockwise route.
Skiing through Corvara into the Alta Badia ski area, San Cassiano is worth a detour from the Sellaronda loop. Set in a tree-lined valley, the village’s surrounding blue runs are great when there’s poor visibility. Built in 1850, the Rosa Alpina hotel was a small rural inn. Since 1939 it has been passed down through three generations of the Pizzinini family. Now a five-star hotel with two highly acclaimed restaurants, the three- Michelin-star St. Hubertus is run by the former downhill ski racer Norbert Niederkofler.
At the foot of Sassongher mountain, this family-friendly village is in a wide valley surrounded by forest and the Dolomites. Corvara is well located for skiing the Sellaronda and the Alta Badia area. Take the Col Alto gondola for plenty of leisurely blues in the Alta Badia ski area. Pause at the cozy Col Alto refugio for a lunch of hearty local cuisine. Alternatively, Piz Boé Alpine Lounge’s restaurant demonstrates an innovative twist on local Tirolean and Italian dishes. On a clear day, the floor-to-ceiling windows offer superb views of the Dolomites.
With the steepest ski runs in the Dolomites and spectacular off-piste, Arabba is the best resort in the Sellaronda for experienced skiers. The gondola gives quick access to 3,269-metre-high Punta Rocca at the top of the Marmolada glacier. Thanks to its height it has the best snow in the area. Ski down La Bellunese, an impressive 12km red run that drops 1,000m, ending in Malga Ciapela. From the piste, you can often make out Cortina and Val Gardena. We recommend skiing La Bellunese in the morning as it can become icy and mogully later in the day.