Cross-Country Skiing in the Dolomites with VBT

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Welcome to the second post in a five-part series about the amazing cross-country skiing vacations that VBT is offering this winter. Last week we discussed the well-groomed cross-country trails, village strolls, dogsledding, and a delectable fondue dinner found on our Slovenia, Italy & Austria: Cross-Country Skiing the Alps vacation. If you tuned in before, be sure to check out the answer to last week’s trivia question at the end of this blog. But first let’s discuss our Italy: Cross-Country Skiing the Dolomites vacation. With four departures throughout January and February of 2014, there are plenty of chances to take this one- of-a-kind winter ski tour.

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Located in northeast Italy, the Dolomites not only are an immense mountain range, but a region where residents transition fluidly from Italian to German due to its proximity to Austria.  Here, many locals spend their winters traveling by way of their skis. Because of this, the routes on our VBT vacations are well-marked by inviting alms—trailside restaurants that serve everything from light refreshments to full meals—where we’ll kick back, warm up and enjoy rubbing elbows with local skiers.

SleddingOn a VBT vacation we spend some quality time on the trails as well as off. On this ski tour we spend a day in the South Tyrol region, where we’ll ski and sled in the town of San Candido. After a morning ski along the Dobbiaco trails we’ll take the Haunold chairlift to the top of the mountain. After lunch, you may choose to rent a sled and cruise the 3km downhill back to the valley or simply return to San Candido via chairlift. Either way you’ll be in for some amazing views from the high vantage point on the mountain.

One of our favorite skis of the trip is the day we head to Passo Lavaze, a well-known landmark for cross-country ski Trip Leaderslovers. The Lavaze Cross-Country Skiing Centre is located on a plateau between Trentino and South Tyrol, with over 50 miles of trails perfect for skilled skiers and beginners alike. The trails wind through the plateau’s beautiful woods, as well as the spectacular mountains of the Latemar chain.

800px-Strudel_piecesWe also want to mention the delicious Alpine cuisine you’ll be enjoying as all VBT vacations include many meals. Enjoy local dishes like strudel and speck —a cured, smoked ham native to the Alto Adige region. We’ll even learn to make the former while staying at The Hotel Maria, a family- owned lodging with a magnificent view amidst the timeless beauty of the Val di Fiemme. Here, we’ll have a strudel cooking class with award-winning hotel chef, Monica Braito.

beersWe hope to see you out on the trails with us in some of the world’s most fascinating winter destinations. Remember, on a VBT vacation you’ll enjoy impeccable cross-country trails combined with local Trip Leaders, comfortable accommodations and plenty of wonderful interactions with the locals. For more information on the Italy: Cross-Country Skiing the Dolomites vacation you can visit us online at www.vbt.com or request a catalog here. See you next week as the series continues with a blog about our Yellowstone in theWinter: Skiing America’s First National Park ​​vacation!

TRIVIA: The first person to answer the following question correctly in the comments section below will win a “VBT Ski Pack” complete with a VBT winter hat, ski ties & poster – Good luck!

                How often, on average, does Old Faithful erupt?
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PS: 
The answer to last week’s trivia question is Bombardino— a drink made by mixing 1/2 Advocaat (or eggnog) and 1/2 Brandy. It is served hot, with whipped cream on top. Congrats to Cheri W for winning the VBT Ski Prize pack!

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VBT’s Lodging of the Month: Agriturismo Montebelli

We like to have our travelers experience as much of the local culture as possible while on a VBT vacation—including the scenery, food, people, and especially your accommodations.  “Distinctive Lodgings with Local Charm” is a tagline we like to use because we feel as though your lodging should be a destination in itself—a haven meant to savor. You can find short descriptions when you click on the “accommodations” tab on all our vacation pages on the VBT website—but we wanted to delve a little bit deeper here. So we’re starting a series of blog posts highlighting some of our accommodations.  This month we’d like to tell you about one of our favorites, Agriturismo Montebelli, found on our The Tuscan Coast bicycling vacation. Located in the Maremma region of Tuscany,  Montebelli is situated on immaculately maintained grounds with olive trees, vineyards, and flowers. Guest can also enjoy tennis courts, archery, bocce courts, an outdoor pool, and a stable with horseback riding facilities and instructor! And who better to tell you more about this fantastic hotel then the folks at Montebelli themselves—Enjoy!

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Well, first of all, what does  Maremma stand for? If you try searching on google you would get lots of information on theOakTree_7948web white shepherd dog but way past half the page you would learn something more about this beautiful territory located in the south west part of Tuscany.  When travelling through this grand territory you are overwhelmed by the beautiful landscapes of its rich and unspoiled natural environment. Views from the countryside, seaside, mountains and rolling hills unfold in a mesmerizing dream come true.

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Maremma has a long time tradition in farming thus saving it from uncontrolled exploitation. Be prepared to enjoy good food and wine. Some of the best Tuscan wines from this area are Morellino di Scansano DOC* and Bianco di Pitigliano DOC. The Mediterranean diet here is at its best—seasonal fruits and vegetables, milk, sheep cheese, meat, wild boar and seafood make for top culinary specialties.

HikingTrail_7935webThe territory offers ample choice for physical well being; apart from the tracks and trails to cover on foot or by bike, there are infinite opportunities for practicing sports like golf, horse-riding, water-sports, boating, fishing. On top of that, spa breaks are easy to get almost everywhere. Saturnia is well known  for its beneficial hot springs.

Last but not least, for those seeking cultural sites and events, Maremma boasts a historical heritage dating back to 750 B.C during the Etruscan times—Amazing!

And what about Montebelli?

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Montebelli Agriturismo & Country Hotel is an oasis of peace and relaxation located in the softly rolling hills and olive groves of the Maremma countryside. It is twenty minutes from the Tyrrhenian coast and close to the art treasures of Tuscany. Montebelli offers its guests the very best of Tuscan hospitality and lifestyle. A stay at Montebelli includesArbor_Scene_7125web holistic wellbeing for its Spa treatments, healthy cuisine prepared with organic produce, outdoor activities, sports as well as a quiet and relaxing ambience.  The century-old olive groves lining our Agriturismo grow olives used to make the excellent Fabula I.G.P. extra-virgin olive oil—the ultimate in olive oil for people who choose wellness as a lifestyle choice. But Montebelli is much more. The Zampinaio vineyard grows Sangiovese and Vermentino grapes, while the Giannino vineyard grows Sangiovese, Sirah and Montepulciano grapes. Both vineyards span 8 hectares and are classified as “DOC Monteregio di Massa Marittima”. These vineyards produce a range of noble Tuscan wines like the Fabula DOC Reserve—a jewel in Montebelli’s wine cellar—as well as the excellent Acantos red wine.

Our joy is your satisfaction. We are pleased to welcome you to our little Oasis..

*DOC stands for “Denominazione di origine controllata”—Controlled designation of origin—and is a quality assurance label for Italian food products, especially wines