GET­TING THERE

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

It’s time for UK skiers to stop over­look­ing the Ital­ian Dolomites, dis­cov­ers

There’s a me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non called a cap­ping in­ver­sion, cre­at­ing a thin layer of cloud be­neath the moun­tain tops. The name might not be par­tic­u­larly mem­o­rable, but the sight cer­tainly is — and this is my me­mory of ski­ing in Pa­ganella, jagged snow­capped peaks of the Ital­ian Dolomites peek­ing through a sea of cloud. Made up of five lit­tle Ital­ian vil­lages, the Pa­ganella ski re­gion is pop­u­lar with do­mes­tic tourists and visi­tors from eastern Europe but largely un­known to Brits.

In the north­ern prov­ince of Trentino, just a short drive from the city of Trento, it’s some­thing of a hid­den gem for UK skiers.

The colour­ful houses and restau­rants tucked into the hill­side are more akin to the choco­late-box ski vil­lages of Aus­tria — there is a lot of shared his­tory here, af­ter all — than the pur­pose-built re­sorts of France.

A mag­i­cal white mist was drap­ing the houses and fields of Fai della Pa­ganella as we awoke on the first morn­ing, stay­ing at the Ho­tel Al Sole. A short walk from the ho­tel to the ski bus, it was a quick ride to the bot­tom of the chair­lift. This is the main en­try point to the re­gion’s slopes, with the lift trans­port­ing you through the trees to a cen­tral meet­ing point.

The slope here catches the sun in the morn­ing, soft­en­ing the snow just enough to dull the scratch­ing sound of a freshly-bashed piste — per­fect for warm­ing up your ski legs. It’s also great for peo­ple to learn on, long and easy enough to get go­ing but not steep enough to be daunt­ing.

Two chair­lifts later and we’re at the top, Cima Pa­ganella. At 2,125 me­tres, it’s also an un­beat­able point to stop and drink a Bom­bardino — the bright-yel­low boozy, creamy and sweet con­coc­tion syn­ony­mous with the Ital­ian pistes — while star­ing out across the Dolomites.

On a good day you can see Lake Garda and the snow-capped Mar­mo­lada glacier catch­ing the sun in the dis­tance. The run down is glo­ri­ous, even with­out

FLIGHTS to Verona from Lon­don cost from around £108 with British Air­ways (ba.com) or £18 with Ryanair and £55 with Easy­Jet (easy­jet.com), ex­clud­ing lug­gage.

Rooms at Ho­tel Al Sole cost from around £114. al­sole­ho­tel.info

Dou­bles at Ho­tel Amer­ica cost from around £88. hote­lamer­ica.it/en

For more in­for­ma­tion visit visit­trentino.info or vis­it­dolomi­ti­pa­ganella. com Trentino’s peaks re­called at Trento’s mu­seum

the af­ter-ef­fects of a warm­ing Bom­bardino. Like so many of the slopes here, it’s wide and well-pisted, and above the clouds and the tree line, you re­ally do feel like you’re fly­ing.

Head­ing down the other side of the moun­tain to­wards An­dalo, the slightly larger and more lively of the two main vil­lages, more ad­vanced skiers can di­vert onto the re­sort’s black piste — a train­ing slope for the Nor­we­gian ski team. Or An­dalo’s two-mile night piste is good fun for all abil­i­ties.

Pa­ganella isn’t the most ex­pan­sive in the Alps, nor the most tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing, but with 30 miles of pistes and 17 ski lifts, it’s a great fam­ily re­sort or skic­ity break, with the Re­nais­sance city of Trento not far away. It’s also ex­ceed­ingly good value, with ski passes start­ing at £37.50 a day and reg­u­lar flights from the UK to Verona with both British Air­ways and easy­Jet.

But what re­ally sets apart the Pa­ganella Ski re­gion from its Euro­pean ri­vals is the food. Potato-filled pasta hearts for lunch at Refu­gio Meriz were di­vinely but­tery, while lo­cal cheese with more pasta and red wine at Refu­gio Dos­san was the per­fect warm­ing din­ner af­ter night ski­ing.

And for those who like to soothe their mus­cles af­ter ski­ing, Ho­tel Al Sole has its own apres-ski well­ness cen­tre with var­i­ous saunas, a Turk­ish bath and frigi­dar­ium, and two pools — in­door and out­door. There is truly noth­ing bet­ter to end a day’s ski­ing than a snowy swim un­der the stars.

For a taste of the city along with the slopes, Trento, the cap­i­tal of the Trentino re­gion, is around an hour away, sit­ting on the Bren­ner Pass road which has con­nected Mediter­ranean Italy with north­ern Europe for cen­turies.

Dat­ing back to Ro­man times, it was part of the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian Em­pire be­fore be­ing uni­fied with Italy in 1919. But its golden age was the 15th and 16th cen­turies, when the city was the venue for the Coun­cil of Trent, set up by the Catholic Church to con­sider re­forms in re­sponse to the Protes­tant Ref­or­ma­tion. Wan­der­ing around the city to­day, from our cozy base, Ho­tel Amer­ica, on the edge of the old town, you can still see the fres­coes dat­ing from the same time, show­ing its grandeur and in­flu­ence.

More his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and events ap­pear on the façade of the colour­ful Palazzo Geremia, one of Trento’s finest ex­am­ples of Re­nais­sance ar­chi­tec­ture, with clas­sic mythol­ogy on the 16th cen­tury Casa Cazuffi-Rella. Set on the edge of the main Pi­azza Duomo, this square dates back even fur­ther, first laid out by the Ro­mans as their cen­tral mar­ket place. The 18th-cen­tury foun­tain of Nep­tune bran­dish­ing his tri­dent is thought to com­mem­o­rate the city’s Ro­man name, Tri­den­tum.

In­side the Ro­manesque cathe­dral, the Coun­cil of Trent made its de­crees. Out­side, the pi­azza is home to one of the city’s finest restau­rants, Scrigno del Duomo, which serves the most sump­tu­ous white choco­late dessert, and fea­tures a Ro­man-era wine cel­lar un­der its 13th cen­tury build­ing.

It’s not all his­toric sights — although the 13th-cen­tury Castello del Buon­con­siglio’s for­ti­fi­ca­tions still loom over the city. One of Trento’s great­est at­trac­tions is much more re­cent. The Museo della Scienze, or MUSE, is a stun­ning mod­ern build­ing, de­signed by Renzo Pi­ano, the man be­hind The Shard and the Cen­tre Pom­pi­dou in Paris.

And with its tri­an­gu­lar roofs clev­erly mim­ick­ing the sur­round­ing Dolomites, I was trans­ported straight back to the snowy peaks where this mem­o­rable ski break be­gan.

PHOTO: PI­ETRO MASTURZO_TRENTINO SVILUPPO S.P.A

Slope off to the Ital­ian Dolomites for ski­ing with a dif­fer­ence

PHOTO: CARLO BARONI_TRENTINO SVILUPPO S.P.A

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