Have you ever heard of Madesimo?
The handful of the skiers I asked whilst researching this post responded by saying: “Oh yes, I went with my school back in the 1970s!”
Everyone else seemed to have heard of it, but had never actually been – including the great Arnie Wilson (who has clocked 701 resorts on his travels).
The only exception? My business partner Loredana, who has actually done a few seasons in the resort and had nothing but positive things to say about it.
Without further ado, here are four reasons why I think this place merits a ski holiday…
1. It’s an easy journey
Madesimo is two and a half hours north of Milan, so there are plenty of flights into Linate or Malpensa to choose from, including regional flights. The drive up is beautiful, passing George Clooney’s pad on Lake Como on the way.
Tip: A great lunch spot en route is the Seven Park Hotel at Colico on Lake Como
As the crow flies, Madesimo is almost on the Swiss border – very close to St Moritz. So once you reach Chiavenna in Valtellina, it’s either 45 minutes to St Moritz or 45 minutes to Madesimo.
2. It’s Italy, so the food is great
This is where the bresaola comes from, so expect to be impressed. For the big foodies, there’s the Cantinone in Madesimo – which has a Michelin star. But my favourite restaurant of the year was actually the Dogana Vegia, situated in the old customs house. The ambiance was simply amazing, with lots of little cosy corners equipped with fire places and tables and full of antique objects.
3. There are 60km of snowmobile tracks
This is very rare. With the exception of Scandinavia, I don’t think there’s anywhere in Europe where you (yes, you) can drive a snowmobile for so long. There are stops at various refuges along the way, so if you’re in the mood for a vin brulle or coffee, you’re in luck. Better yet, you can drive your snowmobile under the night sky to have dinner at a mountain refuge. That, my friends, is a truly unique experience – I assure you.
And if all that snowmobiling has got you in the mood for driving in winter conditions, Madesimo also plays host to an ice driving school. Lessons are available for those who want to polish their skills and confidence for driving on snow.
4. Oh, and the skiing
Thought I forgotten about that, didn’t you? With skiing from 3000m, all the way down to the town at 1500m, there’s plenty of it. And since nearly all the slopes have an east-facing aspect, you can ski on great snow well into April.
The bottom part of the mountain has some excellent fast-cruising terrain combined with a healthy dose of beginner slopes, whilst the lift system is modern and easily accessible from the majority of the hotels in town.
And then, there’s the Canalone. Not cannelloni, you understand, but Canalone – which means large couloir. This is a 1000m vertical, ungroomed itinerary run served by a lone cable car. Believe me, it’s something. My group for the trip, which included the mafia of the British travel press, all agreed that this was one of the top ten runs in Europe that ought to feature on every skiers’ to-do list.
Madesimo is also a great spot for night skiing. Now normally, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea (although if you have kids, I’m sure they’ll be delighted). But humour me for a second, and try to look at it this way:
Get the gondola shortly after dusk, and go and have a lovely meal on the mountain at the Larici restaurant. Good so far, right? This is typically the point where it all goes wrong. But don’t worry – you won’t have to ski down a dark slope afterwards, following a ski instructor whilst a burning torch singes your perfect ski jacket.
Instead, the slopes are floodlit all the way down to Madesimo as you return to resort. Which means you can ski down at your pace – which may be rather measured – if your dining experience at the Larici was half as good as mine was.
To think, just a few moments ago you’d never really thought about going to Madesimo. Je rest ma valis (I rest my case) – you have to go.
If you’re interested in a trip to Madesimo, contact Amin and Momentum Ski – about a tailor-made ski trip.