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Venice and Dolomites in January: skiing and sightseeing

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Nov 1st, 2012, 08:22 AM
  #1
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Venice and Dolomites in January: skiing and sightseeing

We've flirted with the idea of going to Venice and the Dolomites during the holidays for several years. Started doing it again this year but found flights 3-500 per ticket cheaper in January and with much better connections. Now thinking Jan 10 to 22 or so. So I have some questions again and would like the help of local experts and those who have skiied the area.

Thinking 4 or 5 days in Venice and 6 or 7 on Dolomites. Any arguments for starting vs. ending in Venice? Less likelihood of aqua alta early or later? other things that might influence the choice? Am I right to assume decent ski conditions during the selected time--Jan 10 to 22?

In Dolomites, our son, an expert skiier will want to ski and DH and I will want to sit around charming villages soaking in the charm and some beverages plotting where to dine for the evening. Which villages/areas seem to provide optimum opportunity for all of us? Should we divide the time between two areas? Which? My research shows most favorable comments about Val Gardena area with a base in Orteisi (or Castelrotto?) or Sella in Sella Ronda area, maybe Arraba?. Would it make sense to book 3 nights in each? Any other suggestions for which towns would provide best ski access coupled with opportunities to soak up small town charm and good food?

We would like not to drive if at all possible. How does one get to or from Val Gardena or Sella Ronda areas from Venice? Is there easy transport between them? Could we use public transport for a day trip to Cortina? Other good day trips you recommend? When we were in Chamonix, we engaged a private driver one day for a trip to Megeve. Willing to do something similar in Dolomites. Recommendations appreciated.

I've read probably 50 posts and still can't answer these questions with confidence so any/all info and recs you can provide directly to the questions posed will be most gratefully appreciated. Also would like hotel and restaurant recs, but those are not as important as the where to base and where to travel for day trips issues listed above. Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 09:06 AM
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Hello Julie, Here is my trip report from 2009 that may help.
From Venice, you can drive via Cortina to Ortisei. I have to strongly suggest the Hotel Grones in Ortisei, but it is not cheap. That time of year they may want a weeks booking. Best hotel food I have ever eaten. The son-in-law is the chef.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-gold-trip.cfm
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Nov 1st, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Thanks looks wonderful. Took a look at Hotel Grones. Looks terrific. Now if I can find dates that they aren't sold out. We'd like to drive, but I assume doing so is a bit different in January than September. Hope I can get some good intel on winter transport in the area.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 02:18 PM
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Can I get some more responses please. Steve James, are you out there? Others with thoughts on where we should base and whether we should move from one area to another? Thanks.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 02:53 PM
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It's better to fly into Venice than out as outbound flights are often very early,making it difficult getting from Venice to airport.
I second Bob's recommendation of Hotel Grones in Ortisei. It is a beautiful hotel with warm but professional service. It will be a fairlyland in the winter. You can walk along a path right below the hotel to the escalators that go down to the village center below.
We drove there, coming from the Piemonte, and it was all on autostradas in excellent condition except for the last 20 minutes on local roads. You should write Hotel Grones and ask them for transportation recommendations and advice on winter driving conditions. Monica at the front desk speaks perfect English and is very helpful.Once we arrived, we parked in thier underground garage and never took the car out again until we left. We had such a wonderful time there and the food is fabulous.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 06:11 PM
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I have not been to the Dolomites in January, but I have been to Venice at that time. I love Venice in the winter. You will be one of very few tourists which means no lines anywhere. I think that BobtheNavigator's trip report is very good. I also buy a week ticket on the vaporetto and ride up and down in the fog. Sit in St Mark's square and have hot chocolate at whichever of the great cafes is open. They each close for a week in January. I like to go to La Fenice for a performance one night. Enjoy.
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 05:23 AM
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Hi Julie - The skiers usually prefer Val Gardena or Val Badia as a base. Castelrotto is not a good skiers' base (- poor lift access) - so I would discount that.

Personally I would choose between Selva and Ortisei in Val Gardena. For your son, you have easy access to the Sella Ronda. For the non-skiers you have access to the Alpe di Siusi and assorted lifts to mountain refuges and spectacular views. Val Gardena is also better IMO as regards public transport if you want to visit other places of interest e.g. Brixen/Bressanone, Bolzano, Castelrotto ...

Hope this helps ...

Steve
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 08:06 AM
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You could pop into Slovenia (just to the north east of the area you are looking at). Just over the border is a northerly facing ski resort. Kranjska Gora, we had a good week there this year.
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Nov 3rd, 2012, 10:53 AM
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Thanks Steve and bilbo. Now if I can just get my fencesitters to figure out what they want to do!!
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Nov 5th, 2012, 02:23 AM
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Bear in mind that Venice is a considerable distance from Val Gardena - there are several more convenient airports to fly into if you are heading for Val Gardena.
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Nov 5th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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Venice could be extremely cold, and could be wet, but as long as you have adequate clothing you'll be OK. There's no difference in the likeliehood of acqua alta between early Jan & late Jan, but it's usually around the full moon or new moon so it may help if you find out when they are. In case it helps you calculate, the last full moon was a week ago, 29th October - and we had the 10th highest acqua alta recorded 2 nights later!!
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Nov 11th, 2012, 03:36 AM
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caroline, that is extremely useful info. Never knew that's how it works but now that I think about it, of course! Sorry about the recent very high water. I worry for Venice.
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Nov 11th, 2012, 04:42 AM
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Hi Julie,

Only been there in the summer so far, but Cortina is a great destination for non-skiers - better than Val Gardena IMO: nicer town with excellent food and shopping. There are direct "Cortina Express" busses from Venice Mestre staton and airport to Cortina, which also helps a lot.

If Val Gardena, I would choose Ortisei as well.
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Nov 11th, 2012, 06:19 AM
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And here we are approaching the new moon (Tues 13th) & had exceptional acqua alta again this morning with the same predicted for tomorrow morning. On Friday the forecast for today was 100cm above the mean, but that went to up 130pcm early this morning due to a strong scirocco, the remains of Hurricane Sandy (+ it rained all night). High tide was 08.25 but even 2 hours later, I saw a neighbour going out & it was just about at the tops of her wellies. I quote DH's blog entry from 2 weeks ago:

"The water levels have been higher, sometimes much higher, than this in the past. This is only the tenth highest level recorded. Ominously, though, half of the highest levels have occurred in the past decade. The MOSE project may help - great submerged gates that can be raised in order to isolate the lagoon in the even of exceptionally high waters - but nobody seems 100% convinced and, inevitably, there's no sign of it being finished any day soon."
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Nov 11th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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But they are massive gates caroline. Truely amazing engineering.
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Nov 11th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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sorry that you are having to get those wellies wet so often, caroline. the aqua alta is worrying isn't it? it they had the raised walkways up when we were there at Easter a few years ago, but fortunately it was going down, not coming up, but even so it was lapping over the steps of the post office - you could see it from the Rialto bridge.

let's hope the gates do the job.
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Nov 11th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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I'm sure they are very impressive, bilbo! I have read in the past of people joining tours out to see the works, and mean to go if I come across something similar.

The gates would only be used for exceptional acqua alta, though, not frequently - I don't know what threshold they have in mind.

Ann, it has seemed the last 2 weeks as if what has turned the acqua alta from 'normal' levels to exceptional, and delayed it going down again, is strong scirocco winds (plus at least once, apparently both a scirocco & a bora - not sure how that works). If so, I suppose it could be a knock-on effect of the global weird weather/extreme events we've seen over the last 10 years or whatever, couldn't it (more hurricanes, big earthquakes, tsunamis, etc)?

As DH also commented, "So that's two earthquakes, a tornado, six African anti-cyclones and the most sustained flooding in half a century. All since we arrived. I'm sure it's a coincidence..." (Not wanting to put you off, Julie!)
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Nov 11th, 2012, 02:19 PM
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Ann, it has seemed the last 2 weeks as if what has turned the acqua alta from 'normal' levels to exceptional, and delayed it going down again, is strong scirocco winds (plus at least once, apparently both a scirocco & a bora - not sure how that works).>>

caroline - wind plus high tides plus "spring" tides are renowned for causing flooding - eg Boscastle in Cornwall a few years ago. "Springs" occur once every month co-inciding with the full moon. [the opposite is a "neap" tide"] and have the effect of making the high tide higher, the low tide lower. so the scirroco/Sandy at the same time as a spring tide could well produce this effect all by itself.

sorry for teaching my granny to suck eggs, if i am.
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Nov 14th, 2012, 07:17 AM
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I know the scirocco comes from the south-east, so it pushes more water into the lagoon & can prevent it getting out again. (But I didn't know the wind can have this effect on tides elsewhere.) But I think a bora is from the north - so not sure how we could have had both at once, as was reported 2 weeks ago?! Anyway, apparently it was reached 149 above the mean on Sunday - the 7th highest recorded
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Nov 14th, 2012, 09:56 AM
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oh dear, caroline - i hope that your apartment is not a ground floor one.

how are the wellies holding up?
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