Skiing in Italy
Why choose Italy?
Italy is not the first country that usually springs to mind when choosing a destination for a skiing holiday. It is world-famous for its culture, architecture, and lovely climate, and cities such as Rome, Florence, and Venice have been popular with visitors from the UK for decades. However, it is rapidly developing a great reputation as one of the best countries in Europe, and even the world, for skiing. It is certainly one of the most fashionable destinations, with the rich and famous visiting some of the expensive resorts, such as Cortina d’Ampezzo, each year. However, not all of the resorts are as extravagant and costly as Cortina d’Ampezzo and cheap deals can often be found, particularly towards the end of the skiing season.
The scenery in many of the Italian ski resorts is simply breathtaking. The Dolomites mountain range, in the east of the country, is one of the most beautiful in the world and offers fantastic and varied skiing. The ski area located close to the border with France in the west of the country offers more great winter sports. Many of the resorts offer the opportunity to access slopes belonging to other nearby resorts. For example, several of the resorts in the massive Milky Way skiing area are linked by fast and reliable ski lifts. This means that hundreds of kilometres of runs are available for you if you purchase the correct ski pass. The ski schools in Italy have a very good reputation and young children in particular will be kept entertained by the friendly Italian ski instructors, the overwhelming majority of whom speak great English.
Since most European skiers do not automatically think of Italy when they are choosing a ski holiday destination, Italian ski resorts are relatively quiet. Whilst you can spend several hours per day waiting in lift queues in many French ski resorts, you are likely to spend much more time on the actual slopes if you choose Italy. Similarly, Italian ski resorts are great for beginners and intermediate skiers looking to gain in confidence. Many skiers become exasperated in the busy French resorts because they spend much of their time looking nervously over their shoulder before making turns on the slopes and often end up colliding with another skier, regardless of the amount of caution exercised. In Italy, the likelihood is that you will be able to hone your skills without fear of colliding with other slope users. Many of the resorts are easy to access via cheap flights from the UK. Budget airlines such as Easyjet offer great deals for travel to major Italian cities, or you can travel by train, via Paris with Eurostar.
The main resorts
Some of the most popular Italian resorts include Livigno, Sauze d’Oulx, Cortina, Val Gardena, Bormio, Sestriere, Arabba, Canazie di Fassa, and Bardonecchia. Sestriere and Bardonecchia are fashionable choices for young groups looking for excitement during the long winter evenings. Sestriere in particular is a popular choice with the younger crowd and there are regular buses between the resort and Turin for those seeking the excitement of a city. Sauze d’Oulx is another popular choice with those seeking good evening entertainment.
The north of Italy is simply spectacular with its traditional castles, wooden chalets, and dense forests. Visitors to this region can choose to ski down famous mountains such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. The northern part of the country is also very fashionable and is home to some of the most expensive ski resorts in Europe. To the north-east can be found the stunning Dolomites, a mountain range which encompasses Madonna di Campiglio and Cortina d’Ampezzo. Other regions popular with skiers of all abilities include the Gran Sasso, which is located to the east of Rome, making it a convenient option for those able to book a cheap flight to this city.
There is accommodation on offer in Italy’s ski resorts to suit all tastes and budgets. Many visitors, especially those who value their independence, choose to stay in lovely, traditional wooden chalets but there are several luxurious hotels that offer great service and comfortable rooms.
The people, culture, and food
The Italians are famous both for their passionate approach to life and their ability to relax and take it easy. Thus, skiing in an Italian resort is a relaxed affair that places great importance on eating, drinking, and socialising, as well as the action on the slopes. Italians are also incredibly friendly to foreign visitors and will do all they can to offer assistance in any situation. They are very family-orientated, which means that the resorts automatically cater for families, particularly ones with young children.
Perhaps the first thing that one associates with Italy is fantastic food. Restaurants at Italian ski resorts offer the usual favourites such as pizza and pasta, usually at very reasonable prices. Even though it will be freezing during your stay, make sure you sample some Italian ice-cream as it really is the best in the world. Meal times in Italy are important events that usually last for several hours and involve copious amounts of food and alcohol. Needless to say, alcohol should be drunk in moderation if heading back to the slopes after lunch. Don’t be surprised if you find it impossible to hear what the person next to you is saying whilst you eat your lunch or dinner and simply focus on indulging in the great atmosphere. The Italians are fun-loving and sociable and will do their best to help you have a great time during your stay.
For those who love culture and history, the Italian ski resorts are a great choice. Many of the resorts contain traditional architecture and you can spend as much time sightseeing as you can skiing. During your stay, it may be possible to organise a day trip that will take you to a nearby major Italian city, so that you can really experience the unique culture and history of the respective region. For example, from the Gran Sasso ski area, you can plan a day trip to Rome and see all that the capital city has to offer.