Bluebird days in the Dolomites
By Claudia Trotter.
A ski trip to Italy’s Dolomites- snow bunny attire, a thirst for several glasses of chilled Moet and a license to boogie until the sun goes down on the apres-ski tables is strongly recommended. World renowned as being among the most striking mountainous landscapes on the globe, the Dolomites boast panoramic views of limestone peaks and cloudless bluebird afternoons, 300 days a year to be precise. With its neighbouring glamourous villages being Switzerland’s Verbier and France’s Courchevel, the Dolomites host wealthy families holidaying in the school breaks yet are doubly home to many discrete locals who hide away in their traditional rustic cabins.
Good morning- draw the curtains in your cosy firelit room of the chalet conveniently at the bottom of the chairlift and let the early rays of sun flood your eyes. It is another spectacular day and you want to be the first to make tracks in the fresh powder you so happily heard falling overnight. But first- some fuel for the body. Traipse downstairs in your thermals to a steaming cooked breakfast prepared by your chalet girl who has been up since five o’clock baking muffins to shove in your parka pockets for an afternoon energy pick-up.
Whether you’re still stuck learning on the magic carpet, or an Olympic aerial skier, the jagged ridges feature tracks both on and off-piste to suit all abilities. In fact, the Dolomites claim to be a vacationing destination for those who do not even set foot on the snow, but instead like to spend their days relaxing in spas and steam rooms inside the comfort of their resort. Unlike skiing in Australia where I had grown up learning on what I thought were the biggest and best alps known to man, the runs in Italy are staggeringly long, offering exceptional views of the entire mountainous range. Instead of holding your neck warmer up to your nose as a survival technique and counting down the seconds of frostbite until your chairlift reaches the top, you are instead praying for it never to be over with spectacular scenery anyone would pay money to lay eyes on.
Its noon and your knees are feeling a little shaky and boy, those calf muscles have been given a workout! Ski into a local rifugi- a traditional cosy mountain hut serving up spaetzli and spaghetti with a shot of espresso to send you on your way for the rest of the afternoon. Unpretentious and understated, these places are where hundreds of weary skiers and boarders seek refuge in around midday as it promises a hearty bowl of classic Italian and Swiss dishes. Served up on a sun terrace and accompanied, as always, by a few glasses of pinot grigio to help you forget all your aches and pains.
The afternoon ski is cruisy as the snow transforms from the icy slopes in the morning to thick powder which test your fitness levels, especially with a full belly and a few bubbles inside you. If you consider yourself to be a bit of an expert on the mountain or if you are just a natural born dare-devil, engage at your own risk in the only black diamond run of Forcella Rossa- centre stage in multiple James Bond films, however this time pursued not by Russian agents but by moguls. For the rest of you, ski on down at your leisure to what you’ve really come to the Dolomites for…après ski.
Hang up your skis and unbuckle your boots as you waltz into Dok Dall’Ava in Cortina- a bustling open balcony where fur coat and designer mountain boot wearing ski bunnies gather for Aperol spritzes to people watch. Most of them in fact, have simply skied in straight from a strenuous day of exhausting their wallets in the shops purchasing even more ski attire that will never be skied in. This afternoon features a young Italian DJ on the decks sporting a beanie and goggles on his head with retro fluorescent ski gear, churning out 90’s tunes to keep the place rocking. The frail wooden tables hardly stay intact as hundreds of alpine enthusiasts of all ages show off their moves on top of the benches, spilling more drinks on the floor than in their mouth.
Before you leave, you spray a little of your favourite new scent you had tucked into your bag. Nerosa. A sublime new fragrance that opens with saffron, before giving way to a powerful rose that uses oud, amber, sandalwood and some leather notes to bind this intoxicating fragrance, created by David Maruitte.
As the sun begins to disappear behind the mountain, it’s time for the ski home which for some, is quite a difficult task after a session at Dok Dall’Ava. As you arrive back at your chalet, rip off your sweat drenched thermals and jump straight into the frothing jacuzzi on your balcony. Soak in the views as the evening light fades and the chairlift comes to a slow halt and enjoy a plate of thinly sliced speck and salume brought to you by your chalet girl. Your muscles are aching and those spritzes have gone straight to your head…tuck yourself in for an early night and live it up all again tomorrow.