Depending on whom you talk to, there are either 50 or 60km of pistes in Andalo’s ski area, snaking over the north-west face of the Cima Paganella. That’s very modest by modern standards, but what the stats don’t tell you is that some of the runs are of rare quality. The short, black Olimpionica 2 is regularly voted one of the best in the region by locals – but it’s the long swooping descent from the Cima Paganella down to Santel which is our favourite. It drops through 1000 vertical metres, never seems to let up, and in the middle of the week, outside the school holidays, it’s all but deserted. It’s a joy to ski, and is treelined for much of its length, which means it’s a good refuge when the clouds come down, too.
Limited blue runs
The one weakness – which is significant, given Andalo’s family-friendly nature – is the limited number of easy blues, none of which drop back into town. Those that do exist – on a section of rolling, open mountainside above the treeline – get crowded as a result. Whatever age the members of your party, we wouldn’t recommend coming here till you’re all able to enjoy the reds.
Don’t expect knee-deep powder. Andalo gets most of its snow from the south-west – courtesy of low-pressure systems that sweep in from the Gulf of Genoa. Sometimes, this weather pattern settles in for several weeks, with spectacular results. The 2008-9 was like this – and brought the heaviest snow across the this part of Italy for a generation. But it’s not a common occurrence. Still, 98% of the piste network is covered by snow cannons which means that there’ll be skiing no matter what.
You should also be sure to visit during the middle of winter, rather than at its end – because the slopes are quite low. All the skiing is ranged between 1000m and 2125m, which is low by modern standards – even if the slopes are almost all north-facing.
Free ski passes for under-8s
For each adult lift pass you buy, you get a free lift pass for children under the age of eight. In most ski resorts, it’s only the under-5s who ski for free – which is further testament to how family-oriented Andalo is.