There's a serious sense of scale and epicness meandering around the pistes of the Sella Ronda. Made from Limestone, the rugged peaks and monoliths are eroded from their original height to leave some stunning and immersive scenery tinged pink at dawn and dusk. Selva, at the head of the Val Gardena valley, is the gateway to all this magnificence.
Formally part of the Sud Tirol, the region retains much of its Austrian heritage, not only through language but style and of course the après ski. As a result, everywhere has two names; Selva in Italian or Wolkenstein in German. Don't be confused when you see the two names on signs it's the same place. The Austrian influence trickles into everything, even the food; you still get classic Tirolean mountain food yet it's refined in a very Italian manner. Moving away from heavy and hearty into more fresh and elegant tastes - we certainly approve.
Skiing in Selva Val Gardena
Positioned at the top of the Val Gardena valley means direct access to the superbly lap-able and intermediate friendly Sella Ronda circuit, which, by the way, you'll want to take clockwise for optimal time skiing. The other way round is fine but involves more time on lifts.
Selva is also directly linked to the village of Santa Christina where you'll find some pretty lively après when the lifts close and you can get back easily using the ski bus (included in your lift pass). Further down the valley is the historic town of Ortisei with its wide open bowls perfect for beginners and improving intermediates. You can get here by bus from Selva town and get the gondola up to the bowls, or ski to just above Santa Christina and there's a short bus through wooded and snow strewn tracks to the middle of the Alpe di Siusi bowls, skipping out the gondola and sticking to the snow.
There's plenty to be found for all levels, experts have a couple of race courses leading back to the village; the FIS Ski World Cup races are an important part of the annual calendar. As an added bonus the slopes are almost entirely covered by artificial snow making. Even during the meanest of snowfall years, the pistes will be pretty much perfect.
Selva's Après ski
We've mentioned it above, but the après scene in town is heavily influenced by the Austrians. There are a couple of decent bars in town, Luislkeller still uses the traditional Austrian dress. Last time we were there everyone was on the floor rocking the boat to The Gap Band's funk anthem 'oops upside your head' - not bad for five'o'clock in the afternoon. There are also two clubs if you're more of a late night person.
Whether you want lively and loud music or posh tea on the terrace watching the last of the day's skiers make their way down the home run you'll be able to find it in Selva. And of course, it's still Italy so you can have your end-of-day on-mountain bombardino sessions in a little hut watching the sun go down, Valentini is a good last stop on one run into the village.
Maybe not strictly après but on-mountain dining is top nosh and great value. A coffee is still under €2 and freshly cooked made to order pizzas can be found for €6. They also have restaurants to rival Zermatt's best, Alta Badia is where we'd recommend for lunch stops.
What we like about Selva
- Scenery, scenery and scenery, spectacular, dramatic, magnificent, it's a superlative overload
- Key location for access to the Sella Ronda and beyond as well as Santa Christina and Ortisei's slopes
- Good mix of open and wooded slopes
- Excellent nursery slopes, you'll be parallel in no time
- Big verticals on some the local slopes, a bit of a challenge through to the last run of the day
- Best progression terrain is in Ortisei so you'd need to utilise the bus system - it's very easy
- The Sella Rondo circuit can get busy, so you may queue for lifts but there's plenty of alternative terrain
- Snowfall can be erratic but with over 90% artificial snow cover the pistes will always be well groomed