Glorious mountain scenery and a unique community steeped in tradition await you on a holiday to Selva Val Gardena.
Selva is a scenic base for culture lovers and walkers in the heart of the Gardena Valley, between the unmistakable peaks of the Dolomite Mountains.
This part of Italy is steeped in the unique and distinctive culture of the Ladin people. You can learn more about their woodcarving tradition at some of the local workshops - and even pick up a piece to take home with you. Or visit the area’s museum in nearby Ortisei before admiring the glorious mountain scenery with coffee and a slice of cake at one of the mountain cafés.
Exploring the peaks
Selva's walking paths overlook majestic peaks and lush, sweeping valleys. And best of all, you can walk as much or as little of them as you like by hopping on and off the interlinked cable cars, which run throughout the summer. So you can still breathe that clear mountain air and see the prettiest views without breaking a sweat. If you do want to build up an appetite for lunch, there are gentle meadow paths and walking trails that wind around some unique mountain formations, like the unmistakable Sassolungo.
Out and about
• Boat trips
• Guided mountain walks
• Mountain lifts
• Nordic walking
• Cycle routes
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Things to See and Do in Selva Val Gardena
If you love a market, make sure you head down to one of the local food and flea markets in Val Gardena. Santa Cristina hosts one every Wednesday, Selva Val Gardena sets up shop on Thursday, and Ortisei is open for business every Friday. They're great for fresh fruit, handmade goods and a bustling atmosphere.
For a more relaxed shopping experience, Selva has a range of specialised boutiques selling fashion, shoes and leather goods. Wood-carved items can also be found if you take your time wandering around the town, and there definitely isn't a shortage of delicious local specialities for you to stock up on.
For a quiet night in, order an Aperol spritz and watch the sun go down on an outdoor terrace or from one of the cosy hotel lounges - nothing can beat it.
Night owls will love the various music festivals held in Selva throughout the summer. They offer nightly entertainment and an opportunity to dance and let off some steam. From the Jazz Festival in June to the Folk Festival in August - and with bars hosting after parties - there's bound to be something to keep you busy.
Selva Val Gardena’s gastronomy has widened its horizons in terms of flavours and ingredients over the last few generations, making its cuisine as international as its visitors. Many of the popular restaurants and mountain huts adopt a mixture of South Tyrolean and Italian dishes, though you will find more exotic delights too.
Pages of pizzas at La Bula
One place that always gets busy is La Bula - great for traditional Italian cuisine. Their menu has pages and pages of pizzas to choose from, so it's no surprise that their customers return night after night. They’ve also been known to give free shots of grappa as a thank you for coming back.
Spinach and almond butter ravioli at Ristorante L'Muline
At the top of the Ciampinoi cable car, in a flowery meadow, is the Ristorante L’Muline. An outdoor terrace means you can pass the time people watching, and the owner Heidi will happily chat to you. A favourite dish from here is the ravioli filled with spinach and almond butter.
Nothing but warmth at Ristorante Costabella
At the bottom of the Costabella lift is the Ristorante Costabella, a restaurant with simple interiors but impressive dishes. Skiing photographs cover the walls, reminding patrons of Selva’s winter roots, but with reasonable prices and beautifully presented food, there’s nothing cold about this place.
Traditional Tyrolean-style architecture makes Selva such a pretty little town to walk around in. The main road does suffer slightly from through-traffic, but there are plenty of pedestrianised roads and squares to explore, complete with modern cobbled paving.
The nearest station is Bolzano, which can be reached by the local bus service in Selva. From Bolzano, you can travel to cities like Verona in just an hour and a half, or Trento in 1 hour. Other places you can get to include Milan, Florence, Rome and Munich.
There are several main bus stops in Selva including one in Nives Square and one next to the Ciampinoi lift station. All local buses are free with your bus pass and include services to St Christina, Ortisei, Passo Gardena, and even a few services to Bolzano.
Lifts like the Ciampinoi, Dantercepies and Mont de Seura are open throughout the summer, with some opening in late May and closing in late September. The Ciampinoi gondola leaves from the centre of the village and runs between 8.30am and 4.30pm daily.
Selva is home to a network of gentle walks – as well as some more demanding routes for those who want to push themselves. The interlinked cable cars and lifts mean you can explore further and walk just as much or as little as you want. Stick to easy meadow paths and trails that loop past unique Dolomite mountain formations, like the Sassolungo; follow the old railway line down to Ortisei; or wander along the Via Crucis, a balcony-like path running behind Selva, past the ruined Wolkenstein Castle. Wherever you roam, you’re sure to come across views of majestic peaks and lush, sweeping valleys.
Via Crucis, St Silvestro chapel and Vallunga Valley
Stroll from the centre of Selva to the Via Crucis, the balcony-like path that runs behind the town and is graced by 14 Stations of the Cross – count them as you go. Take a break at the ruins of the small Wolkenstein Castle and then carry on to the small chapel of St Silvestro, nestled peacefully in a meadow. You can then wander through the Vallunga Valley as far as you wish. You could even take a picnic.
Val Gardena railway trail
Built when the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the railway was completed in record time and ran from 1916 to 1960. Today, the line still exists and has created a lovely path to follow to the neighbouring town of Ortisei, 3.5km away. Along the way you can enjoy panoramic views and information boards, which show photos and facts about the railway’s history.
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