Arabba is a tiny village in the Ladin-speaking part of the Dolomites. Just over the border from its partners in the Sella Ronda, Arabba is actually part of the Veneto region of Italy (the other ski villages are part of the province of the South Tyrol).
Arabba has had a small following of die-hard enthusiasts for many years, but too many skiers pass through the village rushing around the Sella Ronda circuit or on their way to the Marmolada and fail to appreciate the charms of this small settlement at 1600m.
Unlike many ski resorts in the high mountains, Arabba doesn't have a long history of farming or mining. In fact, according to the local tourist office, it is hard to find any details of the settlement before the late 1600s (when the local church was built). It may well be that this area was only a summer pasture and the danger of avalanches and the amount of snow which settled in the area stopped people moving there for the whole year around.
The main settlement was the village further down the valley, the tongue-twisting Livinallongo del Col di Lana, where achaeological finds reveal traces of inhabitants back over 10,000 years. In the Middle Ages, the area was ruled from the spectacular Andraz castle, situated on a rock promontory in the valley.
Nowadays, with good protection on the high mountains, the altitude and the quantity of snow collected in a mainly shaded location are plus points for attracting skiers to the village.
Arabba is surrounded by mountain passes or ridges, which in winter provide access to other ski areas (as well as spectacular drives in two cases). The Passo Pordoi is linked by lift to the area above the resort of Canazei; the Passo Campolongo is the high area between Arabba and the Alta Badia and Corvara; and the Passo Pordon links the skiing to the Marmolada area and the settlement of Malga Ciepela.
The Portavescovo ridge is an outlying part of the Marmolada massif and provides shade as well as some of the best skiing in the Sella Ronda resorts.
The village itself is a charming one, with much use of wood as in the Tyrol (the Dolomites were actually under Austrian control until the end of the First World War) and easy access to the lifts and runs from most accommodation. Some controlled development is taking place on the road up to the Passo Pordoi.
Visitors should not expect a rocking nightlife or an après-ski hangout, but a traditional Italian mountain village with some excellent skiing.