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Alta Badia- The Italian dolomites

Set high in the Italian Dolomites, Alta Badia boasts that its World Cup giant slalom course is one of the world’s toughest, which is perhaps why it was chosen as a venue for the 30th anniversary of the series this winter.

Every year, the world’s best giant slalom skiers will tear down the mountain at speeds approaching 80mph. As if this wasn’t foolish enough, this race will be followed by a giant parallel slalom contest by night.

Face it, you’re never going to do this, but there are some good reasons for choosing this area for a winter break, whether you’re a show-off skier or not. Firstly, it’s easily accessible - around 90 minutes from Innsbruck or three hours north from Verona, both served by Easyjet. Then there’s the scenery, which hits you full in the face as soon as you start climbing into the resort. It’s all craggy limestone peaks and comes with a famous glow that is typically pink at sunrise or sunset but which can range from purple to ochre.

These days, having a stunning natural environment is not enough to bring people to your resort; you need a USP and in Alta Badia’s case, it’s the food. Perhaps realising that everyone loves Italian cuisine, the South Tyrol region has really gone for it, with a high concentration of Michelin-starred chefs, three of which boast two stars. Then there are around 20 Michelin-rated restaurants, three of which are in Alta Badia itself. 

You can’t eat like this all the time, particularly when you need to carb up for a day’s skiing, so it’s reassuring to know that standards of hotel cuisine throughout are excellent with Michelin mentors, they have to be.

What’s more, there’s a way to experience the posh food and ski at the same time, with the Gourmet Ski Safari, when eight Michelin chefs each cook their take on a traditional regional dish in mountain huts scattered around the pistes. Dishes are paired with a wine and, eaten outside in the sunshine, making this a sublime way to spend an afternoon.  

Four dishes are €40 and as usual they include a creation by local boy Matteo Metullio, Italy’s youngest Michelin chef, who this time will offer Caprino cheese pie on a bed of red beetroot with a suckling pig ragout with peanuts.

If you really must put skiing before eating, there’s a lot to be pleased about, particularly if you’re a timid intermediate, as there are plenty of wide blue runs. Some of the reds, however, are testing and there are a few black runs, but mostly this is a place for cruise and views. 

Better skiers will want more and the good news is that the area is linked to the Dolomiti Superski area, with 1,200km of slopes and 450 lifts.

Part of this is the Sella Ronda, the circular 42km route that takes in four valleys and which can be covered by an intermediate in a day.

It’s a good day out and a great way of enjoying a guilt-free dinner in a foodie region like this, there’s always going to be an ulterior motive.