Ski Italy


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Ski Italy

 

In Italy skiing is seen as a friendly and relaxed affair, involving eating, drinking and talking. With a stylish and sophisticated nightlife, folk flood in for the weekends and the Italian skiing experience has a charm and pace like no other. Italy was traditionally the cheap option for skiers wanting to visit the Alps. Italy's skiing areas spread from the French border in the west, to the stunning Dolomites in the east, with French, Italian and German spoken in different areas.

 

Italian skiing includes some of the world's great resorts, with the SuperDolomiti region and the Milky Way offering hundreds of miles of lift-linked slopes. Facilities are improving but, compared to other countries, the infrastructure needs some modernisation. This is true for most Italian resorts. Overall, Italy has some great skiing and après-ski, in a more laid-back fashion than elsewhere in the Alps. It is still good value but to continue to compete it will need to invest heavily in more state-of-the-art equipment to maximise its terrain.

 

 

ITALIAN SKI RESORTS

 

 

Courmayeur

Courmayeur can be found on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, over the Alps from Chamonix (Mount Blanc), in the Aosta Valley. It possesses some of the history of its French neighbour, but at a greatly reduced rate. The Mont Blanc Tunnel has now re-opened, making access to the skiing in Chamonix relatively easy.

 

Courmayeur has 100km of its own pistes, which are perhaps better suited to beginners and novices rather than experts. Courmayeur does offer access to the other resorts in the valley, with a combined total of near 800km of runs to keep just about everyone happy. 51km of excellent trails mean it is suited to cross country skiers as well. There’s a great snow record, which is supported by snowmaking facilities.

 

Being close to Mont Blanc, the scenery is fantastic. It's based around a village, which has a car-free centre, good shops, chic restaurants, cafés and the all important bars, where the après-ski is very much Italian at heart. Eating out is almost more important than the on-snow activities and the high quality of the restaurants reflects that.

 

Visit www.courmayeur.com for more information

 

Bardonecchia

Bardonecchia can be found on the Italian side of the Fréjus tunnel, linking Italy and France. It’s an excellent base for exploration, as you can drive to both the Trois Vallées and the Milky Way, providing hugh skiing potential. Bardonecchia is a sprawling town built around the central placed station. It offers good value restaurants and hotels, great scenery and friendly residents. It's a quick transfer from Turin but that can mean large crowds at the weekend. This means that the area can be deserted during the week but largely overrun at the weekends. This is notably true of the après-ski/nightlife.

 

The skiing itself is great, with 140km of pistes. These are shared between 3 areas, 2 of which are lift linked. A short bus trip will get you to all of the lifts. Most of the pistes are ideal for intermediates. Beginners' pistes are quite hard going and families with small children might not find it the most suitable destination. The snow can be rather weak at times, as can the lifts, which are rather temperamental. Bardonecchia during the week is a very accessible intermediate ski experience.

 

Cortina

Cortina is one of the top Italian ski destinations and ranks alongside Courchevel, St Moritz and Lech/Zurs for its exclusivity. This is where wealthy Italians head and is the location of many second homes. There is some of the most fantastic scenery anywhere in the ski world, with classically Italian context, with shops, bars, restaurants and hotels to rival Mount Blanc.

 

Cortina is a genuinely unspoilt town, with lots of activities for beginners. In fact, two out of every three Italian visitors don't ski.
As for the skiing and boarding side of things, there are excellent pistes for beginners and intermediates, but experts will find less to challenge them. The pistes are fairly uncrowded except on weekends and, if being on the snow is your major priority you’ll need to get up early to avoid the late-starter brigade.


The negatives are that it's expensive, although not as bad as other 'exclusive’ resorts. A big criticism is the actual ski domain itself. It's split into 3 separate areas and accessed by overcrowded buses, while the lift system is old and slow and can be unreliable. Snow can be scarce, so the season is shorter and this reduces off-piste opportunities for better skiers/boarders. Some visitors may well dislike the overriding snobbery of the resort. But if you want to see how the richer Italians do 'the Alpine scene', this is the best place to see it.