Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa Caterina Valfurva – A hidden Gem of a Winter Vacation

With 800 linear miles of mountain ranges in Italy, including the about 300 of the Alps it is not hard to imagine that there are some really great winter destinations that are not famous, let’s say hidden gems. Santa Caterina Valfurva, near Sondrio, is one of these destinations. Santa Caterina Valfurva, located in the northern section of Valtellina, is well connected. From the Airport of Bergamo, Orio sul Serio, there is a nonstop bus that transits the Val Cavallina. Trains and buses from Sondrio also run on a regular basis. Bergamaschi will most often drive but others should seriously considered using the train or bus routes, especially in the winter months.

While all of the hotels are clean and comfortable, even quaint, there are no four or five star structures. On the other hand there are numerous Bed and Breakfast and an Agriturismo where the food is simply heavenly. I would also suggest looking into a chalet or private residence. Prices are reasonable even in the high season. To be truthful they can be considered cheap or a great price/quality ratio. A couple of good solutions are: Thurweiser Hotel Garni, Hotel Campagnoni, Chalet Ginepro, Agriturismo Baita di Nasegn, and for a truly unique experience Rifugio Ghiaccio dei Forni at 2,200 meters.

S.Caterina Valfurva, sits in a valley at 1738 meters (that is just over 1 mile) at the feet of the Ortles-Cevedale mountain range, has a long and rich history spanning several centuries. In the XIV and XV centuries Santa Caterina was an important stop on the commercial routes between the Republic of Venice and County of Bormio. The strategic location creates a blossoming commercial trade.

The Valfurva has been able to maintain its autonomy and local culture even under the occupation of the Grigioni. The dominion lasted almost 300 years from 1512 to 1797. Most recently, durning WWI and WWII Santa Caterina saw fierce fighting as the Partigiani and the Alpini made courageous stands against the Germans and Austrians protecting the entire hinterland of Milan. Numerous memorials and museums are open to the public regarding these difficult times.

The winter sports are great. This area is not as well known as some of the other winter vacation destinations thus crowds are less, fewer lines and reasonable prices. This does not mean that the slopes or powder are not as good, simply fewer people know about them. It is not as chic to say that you went to Santa Caterina Valfurva but the experience is just as exhilarating.

The food is hearty and the wine genuine. Local specialties include Chestnut Gnocchi with Speck, Vegetable Ravioli, Gnocchi with Carrot Ragu', Orzo Minestra, Lentils and Apples, and polenta. Not to be forgotten are the dessert pastries, usually made with wild berries, apples and cream.

If you are looking for an experience in the high mountains, winter sports, great food and want a place where those you know will never have visited this is the place for you. Take your camera the views are stupendous.


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Blogger bozette said...

I feel soooooo bad I was trying to think of all the people that stop by my blog, I am so sorry I forgot Italian.
I also forgot my native tongue of Ojibwa Indian. That one my brother pointed out.

9:39 AM


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