Canazei

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An attractive market town that’s a popular base for those that want to explore the mainly intermediate terrain of the Sell Ronda. Perhaps not the best resort for nightlife.

Canazei is part of the massive (1200km of slopes massive) Dolomiti Superski Area

Situated in the Italian region of Trentino, the Val di Fassa Valley is north of Verona and close to the Italian / Austrian border at Brenner. Canazei and the adjoining town of Campitello are the main ski resorts in the Val di Fassa ski area. Loacated in the heart of the stunning Italian Dolomites. In addition there pisties form part of the famous Sella Ronda circuit. A series of linked runs through many ski resorts (including Alta Badia and Val Gardena), which circles the flat-topped limestone Sella massif. Which in turn forms part of the massive Dolomiti Superski area of lifts and slopes.

Canazei is one of the cheapest ski resorts in italy. The town with narrow cobbled lanes, flanked by old barns and modern hotels attracts a big international crowd. Although its not a massive party town, the low-ish prices attract a lively crowd which results in a lively enough nightlife.

Vast ski area but ski buses are a nightmare especially at peak times

On the slopes a week could easily fly by here and you wouldn’t have covered the same run twice, Canazei (1460m) is part of the Dolomiti Superski which claims to the world’s largest boasting over 1200 km of terrain. Ski resorts are link by lifts, but inevitable you will find yourself taking the local ski buses that link resorts and towns, the buses do get crowded which can be no fun especially if say you had 2 kids in tow. The majority of the lift system is modern and speedy, the pistes are well-groomed with natural snow shored up by snow cannons. Although queues for the gondola leaving the town in the morning are normal.

Generally Canazei best suits intermediate skiers and boarders.

But with such a vast area, every level of skier and snowboarder should find something to suit them. The terrain is a mix of rugged gullies to wide carving slopes on a mountain that has a fairly average annual snow record. The ski resort operates between December and April, which considering it is such a vast area is a little short. On the slopes Canazei could be best described as primarily cruising terrain, but there’s plenty of accessible off piste .

The towns only mountain access is by a fast but busy gondola (Belvedere) which is located on the edge of town and ferries skiers & boarders from the valley floor to the mid station at Pecol  (1926m). From here a cable car or chairlift will give access to the majority of the resorts terrain and the greater Sella Ronda circuit. Although the gondola is fast you should either arrive early (before 8:30) or late (after 10:00) to avoid a 20 min wait on most days. After avoiding the early morning  queues  the major of the rest of the lifts are fairly queue free. Be-warned an early start is essential for completing the  Sella Ronda circuit which is a must just for the amazing views. Pick a clear day and bring a camera.

Faster mountain access from the next town of Campitello

The next town down from Canazei is Campitello (1440m) which provides alternative access to the mountain. From the town a cable car, which means less waiting times than the gondola in Canazei,  takes you up to Col Rodella. From here options include; taking a series of chairlifts to Passo Sella and Val Garden or take the intermediate slope to Plan Frataces which connects to Passo Pordoi and the anticlockwise route to Arabba. This route is slightly easier than the clockwise route. From Canazei it will take a full day to make it to Lagazuoi (Hidden Valley) and back.

Look beyond the Sella Ronda

The Val di Fassa valley is home to many smaller villages like Alba, Pozza, Moena, and Vigo di Fassa. All with there own ski area, which is not linked to the Sella Ronda. Which especially mid-week in low season can be virtual deserted, its like having you own ski resort. Most noteworthy are Catinaccio and Buffaure.

Canazei’s biggest downside is it short season

In the average winter by the end of March when the temperatures start to rise no amount of snow cannons will help the slopes of Canazei. If you planing some spring sking or snowboard you should look elsewhere.

Val di Fassa alone has a total of 59 lifts, comprising 5 cable cars, 7 gondolas, 30 chairlifts and 17 surface lifts, with an uphill capacity of 65,000 people per hour.

  • Catinaccio ski area above Vigo di Fassaa

Canazei has 40 Km or 25 miles of slopes

Beginners

In Canazei there’s one small drag lift served a nursery slope, For those who have mastered the nursery slope your best bet is to hopping on the bus and heading down the valley to Pozza di Fassa’s Vajolet and Pian Peccei-Pramartin chairlifts, which will give access to a verity of cruising blue slopes and mellow reds.

Easy Runs

13% Blues

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Intermediate

Take the gondola up to Pecol and warm up on the long cruisers on Belvedere. After some laps through the park, drop down to Pian Frataces; if conditions are good, you can nip off-piste and into the trees. In the afternoon, a trip up to the wide open bowls of the Sella Pass is a must.

Intermediate Runs

83% Reds

Canazei is an affordable gateway to the stunning Sella Ronda and the vast cruising red slopes of the Dolomite Superski area.

Advanced

Visiting Canazei can be frustrating for advanced riders. The terrain here is undoubtedly full of potential, and there are huge, eerie cliffs and off-piste itineraries as far you can see. But there are problems with accessing the goods, with riders having been arrested in the past for ducking the rope. Use caution. Some locals also use the passes above Canazei to build kickers and hike away from the crowds.

Expert Black Runs

4% Blacks

Download large Canazei Piste Map

Canazei Piste Map
Download large Canazei Piste Map

Canazei is no Freeriding or freestyle hot-spot

With mostly intermediate terrain, there is limited off piste opportunities. For Drop-offs and natural hits you will have to hunt.

Snow Parks

Although there is some small park setup its best to use the Dolomiti Superski pass, which gives access to the parks in Alta Badia and Val Gardena.

Mountain Stats

Top Lift 2423 m
Vertical Drop 963 m
Bottom Lift 1460 m

Essential Info (updated 2016/17)

Opening Early December (3 December 2016)
Closing Early April (4 April 2017)
1 Day Pass Val di Fassa ski pass € 48
7 Day Pass Val di Fassa ski pass € 263
Season Pass Val di Fassa ski pass € 490
Tourist Office fassa.com
Website dolomitisuperski.com/val-di-fassa

Getting There

Turin (TRN) Airport is the resorts nearest at 170 Km or 106 miles away.

The Town

Tucked deep in the heart of the dolomites is a bustling and attractive town, this is the most popular spot in the Val di Fassa: a stand-alone resort from which to explore the valley’s many hills and hamlets. A cable car from the village whisks you straight up into the Sella Ronda circuit, with easy descents into swanky Alta Badia and Val Gardena, while a free ski bus serves the quieter, family oriented areas of the local valley. In atmosphere, the South Tyrol is a little like stepping back into the winter sports universe of yesteryear, where fur is still coveted, snowboarders are viewed with quizzical interest and the locals speak a mixture of German and Italian, a lasting nod to the way the area was carved up in the past. Yet there’s something strangely compelling about this time capsule feel.

Sleeping

There’s a huge range of accommodation here. The fassa.com website has a great accommodation finder for rentals, apartments, guesthouses and hotels so have a look at that first. A good, cheap option in Canazei is the La Campagnolo, while the Garni Serena is pretty reasonable. You can also stay in nearby Campitello.

 

canazei1

Eating

All the restaurants here put most other countries to shame, but try the Melester, the Wine and Dine in the Hotel Croce Bianca or the Astoria if you’re feeling up for the full maitre’d treatment. On the hill Check out the Refugio Belvedere for  excellent views & good quality affordable food.

Apres Ski & Nightlife

The Melester has a good bar favored by the locals, while Huskies located at the Belvedere lift is the classic resort bar, loud house music and posing locals. Head to the Speckeller Disco afterwards. Esso Bar also gets the thumbs up and is a little more chilled.

Pro’s & Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Generally good snow conditions, with lots of sun. Skiers in one-pieces still vastly outnumber riders.
Good value for money and great food. Considerable on-piste travel.
Lots of different areas to explore. Terrain parks on the small side.

The Apres Scene is not crazy, this place is best for beginners that have progressed beyond the nursery slop, intermediates and  families and it’s cheap as well.

Shopping

Rent equipment or ogle new gear at Detomas. For food shopping, there a couple of supermarkets on the main drag.

Health & Wellbeing

Calm down in the Camomile Cave at the Eghes Wellness Center, the only spa in the area not attached to a hotel, and a very nice one at that. Massage and other treatments available.

Internet Access

Don’t forget to bring your ID to the comfy, Arty Dot.Com café; thanks to homeland security-type measures in Italy, it’s a legal requirement. Arty Dot.Com is open  from 10:00 to 24:00 and charge €6 per hour for internet access.

Transfer Options

Ski buses run on Saturdays from Verona and Brescia airports, for a reasonable €40 return. Tickets must be booked in advance. Check out trentinoviaggi.net.

Local Partners

Twelve areas come under the Dolomite Superski umbrella, and each of those areas comprise more lifts and valleys than you could get around to in a week. Closest to Canazei are those of the Sella Ronda, the neighbouring Tre Valli and the Val di Fiemme, to the south.

Children

Drop them at Kinderland, where kids get their own restaurant, indoor and outdoor games areas and ski school. Under eights ride free with an adult on a Superski pass; note that in Italy, all children under 14 have to wear helmets.

Bad Weather Days

Most lifts are above the treeline, but in deep, fresh powder try the trees below Pecol, or above Pozza di Fassa.

Avoid

The queues in the morning. Everybody takes one gondola from Canazei up to the slopes, and it gets predictably busy at peak times.

An Interesting Little Fact about Canazei

The Italian Job 2003 remake starting Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron has several scenes filmed in Canazei town.

Don’t Miss

A late-afternoon trip to the top of the Sass Pordoi, the summit of the rose-coloured rocky fortress that is the heart of the glowing Gruppo del Sella.

Canazei Local Tips

Do Don’t
Ski/Ride down the Lupo Bianco piste to get back to Canazei and have a drink in the Rose Garten at the bottom. Take it all that seriously, this isn’t Snow Park.
Speak Ladino, the local mountain language. Let riding get in the way of partying.
Get drunk before they hit town. For get to eat up the hill.
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Jen is a correspondent for Outside, Ski and Snowboarding magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section. Her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and other anthologies. She has reported from seven continents, loves languages, and is based in British Columbia, Canada.

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