Chris Gill, author of Where to Ski and Snowboard 2012, gives us a guide to Italy’s Selva ski resort
Selva is one of three sizeable resorts near the head of Val Gardena (a name well known to ‘Ski Sunday’ viewers) and one of the main bases to consider for a visit to the unique Sella Ronda region. Selva remains one of my favourite bases in the area, essentially because of the local slopes, including two race courses through woods to the valley that are among the most satisfying runs in the area – not least because they offer decent verticals. Beginners and timid intermediates, though, are probably better off staying in Corvara or Colfosco.
+ A key resort of the Sella Ronda region, with all the usual plus points: extent, snowmaking, scenery, mountain huts
+ Excellent local slopes, with big verticals by Sella Ronda standards
+ Mix of open and wooded slopes
+ Excellent nursery slopes
+ Attractive but strung-out village in a lovely wooded setting
– Some of the minus points of the Sella Ronda region too, notably: erratic natural snowfall, crowds on the main Sella Ronda circuit
– No easy long runs immediately above Selva – buses or taxis are needed for access to them up at Plan de Gralba
– Busy road through the village
Selva is a long roadside village at the head of the Val Gardena, almost merging with the next village down- valley, Santa Cristina. Appreciably further down-valley is Ortisei.
For many years this area was part of Austria, and it retains a Tirolean charm. German is more widely spoken than Italian, and many visitors are German, too. Most places have two names: Selva is also known as Wolkenstein and the Gardena valley as Gröden. We do our bit for Italian unity by using the Italian place names. The local language, Ladin, also survives – giving a third name to some places. Not surprisingly, visitors find all this confusing. The valley is famed for wood carvings, which are on display (and sale) wherever you look.
VILLAGE CHARM ***
Pity about the traffic
The village has traditional Tirolean- style architecture and an attractive church, but is a sprawling place and suffers from through-traffic (and a lack
of parking facilities).
Despite the World Cup fame of Val Gardena, Selva is neither upmarket nor brash. It’s a good-value, civilised, low- key resort – relaxed and family-friendly in many respects, once you get away from the intrusive through-road.
Choose your spot with care
From the village, gondolas rise in two directions. The Ciampinoi gondola goes south from near the centre of the village to start the anticlockwise Sella Ronda route. The Dantercëpies gondola, for the clockwise Sella Ronda route, starts above the village at the top of the nursery slopes (but accessible via a central chairlift and a short run down). The most convenient position to stay is near this chair or one of the gondolas.
There are local buses until early evening – seven euros for a weekly card. In the past they have generated all sorts of complaints from reporters but the flow seems to have dried up. There’s a night bus between Selva and Ortisei. All the 4-star hotels run their own free shuttle-buses.
Ortisei, the main town of Val Gardena, and S Cristina, are described at the end of the chapter. Another possible (cheaper) base is the village of Siusi, down at around 1000m.
Pretty in pink
The village enjoys a lovely setting under the impressive pink-tinged walls of Sassolungo and the Gruppo del Sella – a fortress-like massif 6km across that lies at the hub of the Sella Ronda circuit.
Selva’s own slopes cover both sides of the valley. The lower slopes are wooded, with open slopes higher up.
The local piste map exists in several variations, which reporters find confusing. The maps show neither names nor numbers for the runs. Piste signing provokes some criticism.
2011/12: The Sasso Levante triple chair at Passo Sella is due to be replaced with a fast quad.
2010/11: The old Rasciesa single-seat chairlift was replaced by a new funicular from the base at Ortisei to Rasciesa. It serves a 6km toboggan run and a red piste that links to a cable car up to Seceda.
CD-Traveller readers can buy Where to Ski and Snowboard 2012 – Britain’s only annual ski resort guidebook – for the very special price of £15.99. To purchase a copy, click here