2 April 2024

Alta Badia: let's enter the new Badia Hill and experience the Dolomites

Between downhill and cross-country skiing, wine tastings in mountain huts and...

It has been four years since my last time in Val Badia and thirty years have passed since I last skied in this enchanting area. This is a magical place that alternates between breathtaking scenery and slopes that wind through the snow and rocks of the Dolomites.

For my return to the area, I was a guest of an amazing new hotel thet opened a year ago on a hill in Badia: welcome to the Badia Hill. Holding the reins are a young couple, Marco and Michaela, respectively a chef (leading a brigade of eight youngsters) and a sommelier.

They have thirty-three rooms divided in six categories. The suites are all different from each other. Mine had a living room, bedroom, panoramic balcony, and private sauna; there are also others with a cinema and smoking room (complete with whiskey and small tables).

As I was saying, the rooms are all special, cozy, and have magnificent views on the Dolomites. The standard rooms are deliberately not too big and super sophisticated, because for Marco and Michaela the real heartbeat of the hotel is its food and wine, on which they decided to focus more, to my delight and yours. It’s well known that if you eat and drink well, you’re assured a peaceful sleep. Everywhere.

Here lies the reason why they decided to open an in-house gourmet restaurant aiming for a star (which, in my opinion, is already on its way). The name says it all: Porcino, like the mushroom that represents everything Marco and Michaela want to convey. Alpine pleasure, something special and mostly rare, something that is hard to find and that is a pleasure to taste, once found.

You have two options here, one consisting of four courses made with seasonal ingredients (at a cost of 105 euros + 79 if you want wine pairing) or the 5-course chef's choice (139 euros + 106 with wine experience). Personally, I was seduced by the new Spring menu. The four courses suddenly became more, considering the initial appetizers, the kitchen's welcome dish, and the excellent butter and crispy bread. I had a scallop with white asparagus, peas, radishes, black garlic, farmer's bacon, and escabeche dressing. It was followed by dry aged risotto with mountain pine, citrus ricotta, orange, and puccia bread accompanied with a rice chip with ricotta cream, orange, and mountain pine honey. Then came the Pollo di Bresse course, presented in two courses; they first served the confit leg with organic egg custard, brioche, shiitake mushrooms, and crème fraîche and then came the breast with shiitake mushrooms, white onion, snow peas, and foie-gras. Closing this round is the predessert and, to follow, a cream of farmer's yogurt with lemon, verbena, strawberries, and olives

As you may have guessed, Marco's cuisine embraces the flavors of the mountains, the sea, and products of excellence, because the most important thing is to give to these elements the best chance to express themselves.

The kitchen is also responsible for Winebar’s dishes, which stands out for its informal and appealing concept. They present a mix of Italian and local cuisine. During the week, in order to give a harmonious and non-trivial choice to customers, they offer an additional menu, which includes either a fresh pasta night, or one dedicated to sea and fish. Long story short, your palate will never get bored here. And if you love cocktails, you’ll find an amazing bartender to welcome you....

It isn’t easy to summarize the BadiaHill, as the care for the customer is truly impeccable here, from the cigar room to the ski room, to the rooftop where you will find a crazy wellness area. The latter, I am sure, will captivate you with its super stylish relaxation area between sofas, books, and honesty bar. Here on the rooftop, there’s really nothing missing: you’ll find an infinity pool with a view on the Dolomites, two saunas, a steam room, whirlpool, and terrace for the summer! A paradise from which it is difficult to move!

However, we are in the mountains and, despite the pampering of the hotel, the curiosity of covering kilometers of slopes invites me to grab my skis and boots and embark on new adventures. In two days I can guarantee that I have gone down the same slope maybe twice; otherwise I floated gliding over the snowpack from San Cassiano to La Villa, Corvara, Arabba and up to the Marmolada. What crazy scenery.

I also had the privilege of participating in Sommelier in Pista (Sommeliers on the Slopes), an experience open to all wine and ski lovers. A ski instructor and a sommelier will be accompanying you on a step-by-step tasting in various huts. I tasted excellent wines from Alto Adige, all at a cost of 40 euros (which includes the tasting of 6 labels). You can’t miss out on this!

And after so many downhill runs, I also wanted to try cross-country skiing. Those who follow me know that I have been getting into this discipline, so why not take advantage of the 23 kilometers of track at Armentarola? So here we are at Easy Dolomites, a cross-country ski school where you can rent equipment (21 euros for the whole day, 17 for the afternoon only). There's no shortage of private lockers, changing rooms and new bathrooms complete with showers, too!

After the hour-long lesson (I'll rattle off the prices again: one hour at 76 euros for one person or 90 for two) I felt ready to tackle a blue run, a very easy 2.2-kilometer loop that took me through wonderful landscapes. A musical alternation of plateaus with fresh snow buns, forests, and streams. And the appetite came suddenly. So, skis off, here I am arriving at La Raisc (the root), a brand-new restaurant. Here Manuel welcomes you with a menu filled with mountain flavors and more! I tasted a breaded and fried tomino accompanied by a fresh misticanza, the typical “cajincí”, and a rosemary risotto with lamb chops.

Unfortunately, like all good things, this parenthesis of mine in Alta Badia ends here. I am left with the resounding memory of a stay among snow, the Dolomites, good food, and authentic traditions. An experience that I hope to repeat soon...who knows.

Until the next adventure!

Chiara

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