f you are ever lucky enough to find yourself on an Inspired Italy Dolomite Ski Safari, one of the highlights of the trip in this beautiful mountain area will be a stay at Rifugio Averau, undoubtedly one of the best - if not the best mountain top hostelry - in the Dolomites.
The author, Lorna Bourke spent three days at Rifugio Averau in October 2018)
High above Cortina d'Ampezzo at just over 2,400 metres, this family run establishment is a far cry from the old rifugios which used to be nothing much more than a wooden shack with half a dozen bunk beds, and a woodfired stove.
Rifugio Averau, which recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment, is more like a small luxury hotel with all mod cons, ensuite shower rooms, fantastic views – but above all exceptional food and wine, brilliant service – and a great atmosphere.
Winter Safaris and the Summer High Way
It is on the Dolomites Alta Via Number1 and is part of the itinerary on every Inspired Italy Ski Safari. “It’s our favourite stop and Sandro and Poala Siorpaes are fantastic hosts,” says Tim Hudson who set up Inspired Italy Dolomites Ski Safaris with his wife Louise in 2012 after many years living in Italy and ski-ing in the Dolomites.
The Best Food, Wine and Owners
The food and wine at Rifugio Averau is some of the best in Italy – not just Italian ski resorts. Because it is family run, the attention to detail is excellent. Sandro is the owner/manager and his wife Poala is the chef with son Matteo doubling as head waiter and sommelier – ably assisted by cheeky, cheerful Robert, Nicki and Micki. The atmosphere created by the team is great – not least of all because they clearly all love what they do.
On a fine day there’s not much that can beat lunch on the large terrace with views of the Civetta and the Marmolada mountains. The menu includes such delicacies as deep fried girolles, beetroot stuffed ravioli, excellent braised wild boar, local steaks as well as home made soups – not just the ubiquitous goulash, but delicious local bean and meatball broth. There is, of course, a full range of Italian antipasti and pasta, all beautifully prepared. Starters for a party included mini steak tartare with mozzarella along with deep fried courgettes (zucchini) and more conventional bruschetta and prosciutto canapés. The choice was enormous.
Dry, Youthful and Zesty
Wines are a star turn and the list is wide and varied with the emphasis on local wines from the Alto Adige such as the excellent Pferrerer Colterenzio, a full bodied, dry version of the muscat grape – a particular favourite. The wine is unashamedly aromatic and elegant, dry, youthful and zesty with grapey fruit and lots of freshness - typical of the high standard set by the wine list at Averau.
Ski Touring on Groomed Ski Slopes of the Dolomites
Tim and his wife Louise who participate in all Inspired Italy’s ski safaris are terrific fun and personally take parties of up to 7 skiers touring, covering about 30 to 40 kilometres a day, ski-ing for 7 to 8 hours. Before setting off skiers’ abilities are assessed so nobody finds themselves out of their depth or held up by a slow member of the group. With Inspired Italy Dolomite Ski Safaris you will enjoy some of the best ski-ing in the Dolomites, fantastic company, amazing scenery and above all – a wonderful gourmet stay at Rifugio Averau. This is something not to be missed.
If you just fancy a one-off visit, Rifugio Averau is directly on the ski slopes and can be reached by chair lift from Passo Giau and from the 5 Torri. It is open winter and summer (with the exception of October and November) and you can drive up to the bottom of the chair lift in summer, with the last leg by Jeep or you can walk up from the 5 Torri.
There is snowmobile access in winter if you are not on a ski tour. Rooms have three, four or five beds with bath/shower TV and Wi-Fi and range from €91 per person for bed and breakfast to €118 per person for half board – well worth the extra €27 for a meal to remember.
Rifugio Averau feature in the following Inspired ITALY Dolomites Ski Safari schedules ...