Alta Badia

Nestled in the upper part of the Val Badia, Alta Badia is a unique region known for its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and thrilling outdoor activities. Separated from the rest of the valley by the Punt de Fer gorge, it comprises the picturesque Ladin-speaking municipalities of Corvara in Badia and Badia. These towns, along with La Valle, form the renowned tourist area of Alta Badia. 

The Geographic Splendour of Alta Badia

Enclosed by the majestic Dolomite valleys, Alta Badia is bordered by the Gardena Pass (connecting it with the eponymous valley), Campolongo Pass (linking it to Arabba and Valle del Cordevole), and Valparola and Falzarego Passes (leading to Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Boite Valley).

The region is home to charming towns such as Corvara, Colfosco, La Villa, San Cassiano, and Badia. The villages of Pedraces, the seat of the Badia municipality, and San Leonardo form the largest settlement. Even with a population of around 700 people, Corvara is not only the seat of the Corvara in Badia municipality but also the most significant tourist hub in the valley.

La Valle, situated in the lower part of Val Badia, is an exception as it lacks cable car facilities for winter tourism. Yet, it is part of Alta Badia due to its inclusion in the tourist consortium.

History of Alta Badia

Alta Badia has a rich history dating back thousands of years. Prehistoric bear bones were discovered in a cave, indicating early human activity. Around 9,000 years ago, nomadic hunters and gatherers settled in the region. The Rhaetian people, mostly farmers, inhabited Alta Badia before the Romans conquered the area in the 1st century BC. This led to the emergence of the Ladin language, still spoken in parts of the Alps, including Alta Badia. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Trentino population faced threats from various foreign people. South Tyrol was Germanized and integrated into the Habsburg domains. 

The Alpine region was Christianized around the year 1000, and the Church established the Principality of Brixen in 1027, including part of Val Badia. 

Following the dissolution of the Castel Badia convent in 1785 and the secularization of the Principality of Brixen in 1803, Val Badia became part of Tyrol, which later joined the Austrian Empire after the Napoleonic wars. 

During World War I, the Ladin Valley witnessed the outbreak of the conflict as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Alpine region, a disputed border between Austria and Italy, became a devastating war zone. After the war in 1919, South Tyrol became part of the Kingdom of Italy.

In the late 18th century, the Dolomites started attracting hikers with renowned alpine guides like the Kostner brothers in Corvara and Josef Adang in Badia.

View from Piz Boe, Alta Badia

The Thriving Tourism Industry in Alta Badia

Tourism forms the lifeblood of Alta Badia, leading to a proliferation of hospitality services such as hotels, restaurants, shops, ski lifts, and refuges. The region’s flourishing tourism industry begins with the enterprising spirit and passion for the Alps of individuals such as Franz, Cesco, and Erich Kostner. Their unwavering dedication and innovative ideas paved the way for developing a thriving tourism sector that continues attracting visitors worldwide.

Summer in Alta Badia

During summer, the region buzzes with outdoor activities like hiking and mountaineering. Many ski lifts remain operational in this season to facilitate uphill travel. Hikers can feast on typical dishes at numerous mountain refuges. The trails range from simple valley walks to challenging traverses and via Ferratas. Some popular ones include the Tridentina, Piz da Lec, Vallon, Piccolo Cir, and Cesare Piazzetta Via Ferrata. Mountain groups to explore include the Sella, Puez, Sasso della Croce, La Varella, and Conturines groups. The Pralongià, Armentara, and Rit pastures are also popular for pleasant hikes without excessive elevation gains.

Corvara, Alta Badia, in Summer

Winter Sports and Alta Badia Ski Opportunities

Winter sees the highest influx of visitors in Alta Badia. The valley is part of the Sellaronda ski carousel, a circuit that wraps around the Sella group, and the Great War circuit, which retraces World War I battlefields. With 53 state-of-the-art ski lifts and 130 km of ski slopes, it is one of the largest ski resorts in Italy. It hosts a men’s World Cup ski race on the Gran Risa Slope (in La Villa).

The ski area comprises several sub-areas:

  • La Crusc: Slopes above San Leonardo in the Badia municipality at the foot of the Sasso di Santa Croce.
  • Gardenacia: A group of slopes near the eponymous peak above La Villa.
  • Pralongià: An alp enclosed between La Villa, San Cassiano, and Corvara in Badia, with respective main lift arrival peaks, Piz La Ila, Piz Sorega, and Col Alt.
  • Boè: Slopes near the Sella Group in the Corvara municipality.
  • Colfosco: The area of Stella Alpina Valley and Gardena Pass.

The Alta Badia ski resort also connects with the Sellaronda ski areas. It directly links to Val Gardena via the Gardena Pass and Arabba-Porta Vescovo via the Campolongo Pass. Since winter 2008-09, it has been connected to the Plan de Corones ski area, thanks to the new “Piculin” slope that descends from Piz de Plaies to Piccolino. This link makes the transfer between the two areas (Paraciora-Piculin) possible with a 20-minute bus ride.

Furthermore, the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort is conveniently accessible from Alta Badia with a 20-minute bus ride. You can also access the two valleys in the opposite direction by taking the picturesque Armentarola ski slope. This sweeping trail descends from the majestic heights of Lagazuoi down to the quaint Capanna Alpina hut, seamlessly blending the two captivating landscapes.

Colfosco ropeway / Sellaronda

Ski Lift Facilities and Slopes

Alta Badia boasts 53 ski lifts. The slopes, totaling 130 km, are meticulously groomed every night by over 90 snowcats. The slopes are categorized into 74 km of easy slopes (marked blue), 47 km of medium-difficulty slopes (red), and 9 km of high-difficulty slopes (black).

The Culinary Delights of Alta Badia: A Fusion of Tradition and Innovation

Alta Badia is not just famous for its stunning landscapes and thrilling outdoor activities. It is also renowned for its culinary traditions that blend authenticity with innovation. The cuisine of Alta Badia is a testament to the region’s rich culture, deeply rooted in tradition yet embracing cosmopolitan influences.

The local cuisine, known as Ladin cuisine, is characterized by its wholesomeness and authenticity. The dishes are simple, prepared with love, and reflect the region’s agricultural heritage. However, this doesn’t imply that the cuisine has remained stagnant in the past. On the contrary, it’s continually evolving, incorporating new ideas and flavors while staying true to its roots.

Alta Badia guarantees high-level cuisine if you prefer casual trattorias, farm inns, mountain huts, or Michelin-starred restaurants. It’s a perfect fusion of traditional recipes and fresh South Tyrolean products. This unique blend has earned the region international acclaim, thanks to the creativity and passion of its chefs and the entrepreneurial spirit of its restaurateurs.

Canederli, South Tyrol Dish

Gastronomy Holidays in Alta Badia

Alta Badia is well-known for its delicious food, select Italian wines, and inviting restaurants. All these elements harmoniously blend with the local South Tyrolean nature and traditions. Unsurprisingly, many visitors plan their holidays around gastronomy, making food and drink an integral part of their experience in Alta Badia.

The Restaurants of Alta Badia

In Alta Badia, people always associate food with high-quality, wholesome, locally sourced ingredients. There’s a wide range of restaurants and pizzerias, each offering its unique take on traditional Ladin cuisine.

The Gourmet Valley in the Dolomites

Alta Badia is often called “The Gourmet Valley in the Dolomites.” This is because there are four Michelin stars within a territory of only 15 square kilometers. These belong to Restaurant St. Hubertus in San Cassiano and La Stüa de Michil in Corvara.

Traditional Cuisine in South Tyrol

Traditional South Tyrolean cuisine is a highlight of Alta Badia’s culinary scene. Many regional restaurants offer local dishes prepared with lots of love, keeping the Ladin tradition alive. From hearty stews and dumplings to homemade pasta and desserts, every dish tells a story of the region’s history and culture.

Restaurants, Huts & Wine Bars in Alta Badia

Alta Badia is also home to numerous huts and wine bars. These establishments offer a more relaxed and informal dining experience, perfect for those who want to enjoy good food and drink after exploring the outdoors.

In conclusion, Alta Badia offers a culinary journey that is as diverse and enchanting as its landscapes. From traditional Ladin dishes to innovative gourmet creations, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Conclusion

Located in the heart of the Dolomites, Alta Badia offers a wide range of activities for all travelers. If you’re a history enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the deep roots of this region, which date back to ancient times. From the Ladin language and culture to the traditional architecture of the villages, there’s plenty to explore and learn about.

For adventure junkies, Alta Badia boasts some of the best outdoor activities in the world. Hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and paragliding are just a few of the options available, with breathtaking views around every corner. And, of course, there’s skiing – Alta Badia is famous for its world-class ski facilities, with over 130 km of slopes and plenty of runs for all skill levels.

Foodies will also love Alta Badia, which is known for its delicious cuisine and local specialties. From hearty traditional dishes to gourmet cuisine, there’s something for every palate. Plus, the region is home to many excellent wineries, producing some of the best wines in Italy.

All of this is set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, with the jagged peaks of the Dolomites towering overhead and verdant valleys stretching out below. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Alta Badia has something for everyone.