Sankt Ulrich in Gröden - commonly abbreviated to St. Ulrich - (Italian: Ortisei, Ladin: Urtijëi) is a picturesque town which is the main town within the Val Gardena valley within South Tyrol. St. Ulrich is the largest of the three municipalities in Val Gardena. Nestled in the Alps, St. Ulrich is a popular destination for skiing and hiking, and its economy is driven by tourism. It is also somewhat famous for its wood carvings - a cottage industry that has survived in the area from ancient times.
From 1860 to 1914 St. Ulrich experienced rapid economic growth due to the opening of a major road connecting Val Gardena to the main railroad; as a result the local woodcarving industry flourished. International tourism developed through the discovery of the Dolomites as a tourist destination by English visitors and then by others from other parts of Austria-Hungary and the German Empire. In 1935, the first cable car in the Val Gardena areas was established here (to the Seiser Alm). In 1970, the Alpine World Ski Championship was hosted in this area.
The Val Gardena valley, within which Sankt Ulrich is, is one of the few areas within Italy where Ladin is one of the official languages. The center of town is at the valley floor and extends north to the foothills of Mount Raschötz (Italian: Rasciesa). The Gardena river (German: Grödner Bach, Italian: Rio Gardena), which is a tributary of the Eisack river, runs east-west towards the southern side of the town. To the south, lies the largest Alpine pasture - the Seiser Alm, and this is a big source of the tourism business for the town.
Buses operated by SAD run from Bolzano, Brixen, Klausen, and Waidbruck. Information in English is available here. During the day bus 170 will get you into town from Bolzano, but in the evenings, the same bus route gets truncated and ends in Kastelruth.
Take the train to Waidbruck (Italian: Ponte Gardena), then take bus line 350 to St. Ulrich. The bus leaves from right outside the train station.
If you are coming from Innsbruck via the Brenner Pass (highways A13 and A22), it is best to leave the highway at Klausen and follow the SS 242 to St. Ulrich in Val Gardena. If you are arriving from Bolzano, you turn right at Waidbruck / Ponte Gardena sign on the SS 242 from the S12 (which is the same as the A22 for a while, but splits later on).
The town is easily walkable, and there are marked footpaths to neighboring towns.
By public transportation
- A 1 funicular is available to the top of Raschötz Mountain. €13 one-way, €18 round-trip.
- A 2 cable car runs from St. Ulrich to the nearby alpine meadow - Seiser Alm. The mountaintop has a restaurant, hiking trails in the summer, and skiing in the winter. See this link for details on all the cable cars in the region and ticket pricing.
- The MobilCard[dead link] is a convenient and cheap way to get around the town and region. These cards can be bought in all sales outlets of the South Tyrolean transport association and in the various tourist associations in the region.
- The Mobilcard is available as a 3-day or 7-day ticket and is valid on all public transport in the South Tyrolean transport association.
- The Bikemobil Card is available as a day card, 3-day card and 7-day card. It enables a combined use of public transport from the South Tyrolean transport association and rental bicycles.
- The Museumobil Card is available as a 3-day card and a 7-day card and, in addition to using all public transport of the South Tyrolean transport association, enables free entry to around 80 museums throughout South Tyrol.
- 1 Museum Val Gardena (Museum Gherdëina), Cësa di Ladins, Via Rezia 83, firstname.lastname@example.org. Since 1960 the museum has housed collections on the cultural and natural history of the Val Gardena area. €7.
- Art 52, Str. Sacun. Daily, 9AM–10PM. Permanent exhibition of hand-carved sculptures, wood carvings and art paintings from Val Gardena by 52 different artists. Free.
Several historic churches are in and around St. Ulrich:
- St. Jacob's Church (St. Jakob Kirche, Chiesa S. Giacomo, Dlieja da Sacun). The oldest church in Val Gardena (first mentioned in a document in 1325, but the date 1181 is carved into the bell tower), reachable only by a steep trail through the woods.
- Parish Church of St. Ulrich (Pfarrkirche St. Ulrich in Gröden, Chiesa Parrocchiale di Ortisei). Built in the late 18th century, this church has an organ with 2000 pipes. It contains statues of saints sculpted by many local artists.
- St. Antonius Church (St.-Antonius-Kirche, Chiesetta di S. Antonio). Consecrated in 1680, the church has a simple gabled structure and a strongly sloping roof and has a predominantly Renaissance style with some Baroque elements. The paintings, stained glass windows and statues depict scenes from the life of Saint Anthony of Padua.
- St. Anne’s Chapel (St.-Anna-Kirche, Cappella di S. Anna). First mentioned in a document in 1425, the tower with its two bells was only built in 1799. Inside one can see numerous sculptures by well-known local artists.
- Parish Church of St. Cristina (Pfarrkirche von St. Christina, Chiesa Parrocchiale di S. Cristina).
- Skiing and Snowboarding. The area supports winter sports in a major way. There are 79 ski lifts with 175 kilometers of slopes, including the Sella Pass and the Gardena Pass. The Dolmiti Superski and the Sella Ronda ski circuits are in the area.
- Hiking. The trails surrounding St. Ulrich are well marked. For a scenic 1-2 hour hike, take the cable car up and walk back down to the town.
- Take in the views: St. Ulrich looks like a village out of a fairy tale. Especially on a clear day, it's well worth taking time to admire the scenery. The Seiser Alm can be reached directly from St. Ulrich by the Seiser Alm cable car.
Many restaurants, bars and cafes can be found along the Strada Rezia, which is a major street in town.
- 1 Hotel Angelo Engel, Via Petlin n. 35, I-39046 Ortisei (Valgardena), Dolomites, Italy (Center), ☏ +390471796336, email@example.com. Family-run hotel in the centre of St. Ulrich, featuring a large private garden with an indoor and outdoor pool (both heated all year round), saunas, gym and a spa and beauty farm. The extensive outdoor activity program includes daily guided hikes and mountain bike tours in summer and, in winter, ski guiding and guided snowshoe hikes.
- Hotel Dolomiti Madonna, Via Rezia, 267, ☏ +39 0471 796207, firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfortable rooms, and delicious food at the attached restaurant. The wifi leaves something to be desired, though.