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From Pontives the valley rises gradually to Ortisei (1,236 m) and continues to gain in height as far as S. Cristina (1,428 m) and Selva Gardena (1,563 m). These are the main centres of the three valley communities, of which Selva Gardena is the biggest in area. Roncadizza, Bulla and Oltretorrente - on the left bank of Rio Gardena - have been part of the adjoining commuruty of Castelrotto since the Middle Ages. For the church, however, the valley is a single unit, the Deanery of Val Gardena.
Val Gardena has an area of almost 50 square miles and about 8,500 inhabitants. The majority of them, approximately 80%, are Ladins while the remainder are Italian or German- speaking South Tyroleans. In the main season there are the visitors as well, of course. Then Val Gardena is livelier and more colourful
than at other times.
Rio Gardena is the longest waterway (over 15 miles long), rising below the Sella Massif and joining the River Isarco at Ponte Gardena. Its Ladin name is "Derjon" (changed from Dursan). In German the lower section is still called Dirschingbach.
At Val Gardena, there is tourist accommodation available in hotels, farm holiday, farmhouse, residence self-catering accommodation, mountain chalets, b&b, rooms for rent, holiday homes, camp sites and tourist villages.