Santa Cristina (Val Gardena), Italy
Santa Cristina (Val Gardena) is an Italian ski resort located on the Dolomites. The region is one of outstanding natural beauty and the Dolomites are currently being considered as a UNESCO world heritage site. The range is named after Déodat de Dolomieu, who is famous for documenting the geology of the area and in particular the composition of the rocks that form the mountains.
The resort is the smallest of three main villages within the Val Gardena region. The other villages – Ortisei and Selva – are spread out over an 8km stretch and are both easily accessible by bus or car. The village is built in the classic Tirolean style and the region is located close to the Swiss Alps.
Val Gardena is distinctive in that it has a Ladin culture. The majority of the inhabitants speak a derivative of Latin although a minority speak German or Italian.
Val Gardena is one of the world’s most famous ski resorts. Within the resort is the Dolomiti Superski, the world’s largest gondola system. Santa Cristina sits at approximately 1,430m and is in front of the Sassolungo at the base of Monte Pana, Ciampinoi, and the Col Raiser lifts.
How to get there
Bolzano – Bolzano airport is approximately 30 miles west of the resort. During the winter there are numerous charter flights which fly direct to Bolzano airport. Most of the routes take tourists via Rome or Milan. The main service is run by Airalps. For a map showing the route between Bolzano and Santa Cristina, click here.
There are several major airports located within 2-3 hours of the resort including:
Innsbruck – Innsbruck airport is approximately 75 miles away from the resort. For a map from Innsbruck, click here.
Munich – Munich airport is located approximately 200 miles north of the resort. For a map from Munich, click here.
Milan – Milan airport is located approximately 200 miles south-west of the resort. For a map from Milan, click here.
There are regular trains running to the resort from Austria, Belgium, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. Trains travel direct to either Bressanone or Bolzano and it is then possible to catch a bus to Val Gardena and Santa Cristina. Buses run hourly.
Access to the Val Gardena region is possible via the Brenner Motorway (A 22). If travelling south, the route goes through Innsbruck, Brennero, and Chiusa. If travelling north, the route follows the motorway through Verona, to Trento, finally reaching Bolzano. You will need to take the Chiusa/Val Gardena exit, which goes to Ortisei (approximately 20 minutes away). Santa Cristina is only a few minutes further along this route.
Who does the resort cater for?
Santa Cristina is primarily suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers. However, the wider Val Gardena region offers something for skiers of all abilities.
The village is interesting culturally, since it is dominated by a Latin derived ‘’Ladin’’ culture. The Cesa di Ladins is a celebration of the Ladin culture. There is also a large carnival celebration in February, which is a lot of fun.
The region is famous for its woodcarving and it has a wide range of shops for tourists. There is a sports centre in the town centre. The area has numerous restaurants and the food is a mixture of classic Italian and local Ladin dishes. There is also a relatively good après ski scene, with the Crazy pub, L Fudlé, and Yeti’s Ombrella Bar proving popular with Brits.
There are two ski schools in Santa Christina: Ski Snowboard school S. Cristina and the Ski & Snowboard School Cir. It is possible to buy a Skipass Dolmiti Superski which allows full access to all the lifts within the Dolomite region.
Snowboarding facilities are available in the wider Val Gardena region. There are boarder crosses at Passo Sella and Comici, Piz Sella. There is also a natural half-pipe at Sotsaslong.
For non-skiers, the region also offers ice carving, ice hockey, ice-climbing, ice-skating, paragliding, sledding, and snowshoeing. There is also a wide range of indoor activities on offer including a sauna, billiards, bowling, squash, climbing, and tennis.
What accommodation does the resort offer?
As the smallest of the three villages, the accommodation on offer in Santa Cristina is relatively limited in comparison with its sister villages. However, despite the steep nature of the local mountains, there are good transport links between the three villages.
Hotels include the Hotel Diamant, Interski Hotel, Hotel Carmen, Sporthotel Monte Pana, and Hotel Cristallo. Santa Cristina also has a wide range of apartments that will suit most budgets. Good examples can be found here.
Overall, there are 175km of downhill runs easily accessible from Santa Cristina. However, the Val Gardena region is far more extensive. The entire area boasts over 500km of runs in the Dolomites and 1,220km in the total region. There is a wide range of different slopes and the resort offers something for skiers of all levels of experience and ability.
The Val Gardena region has approximately 450 ski lifts. Snow is reliable throughout the season but the region also has the ability to create artificial snow, since the majority of the area is serviced by snow cannons.
Whilst there is not too much cross-county skiing on offer in Santa Cristina itself, the region allows access to Monte Pana, which has a variety of natural and man-made trails. Monte Pana offers routes suitable for skiers of all abilities but most of the trails are relatively easy. However, for more experienced skiers, the Swiss Alps offer approximately 60km of prepared trails.
The season for 2008 – 2009 is set to run from the end of November 2008 to the middle of April 2009.
|Black Runs||18 km|
|Red Run||105 km|
|Blue Run||52 km|
- Total downhill piste: 175 km
- Cross Country trails: 98 km
- 81 ski lifts
- Max vertical: 1,020m
- Resort altitude: 1,430m
- Highest lift: 2,450m