Top Lift: 3000m
Ski area: 70km of pistes
Adult lift pass: 176-199€ for six days
In a Nutshell
Yes, it’s small. But it’s high and north-facing too – and the lift company keeps the pistes in superb condition. Nobody comes here, except school parties and locals, and the accommodation is cheap. In other words, this is a great place for a bargain-basement three-day break.
Essential Advice for the Perfect Trip
If you’d asked us our opinion of Pila we’d just shrug out shoulders. “Bit small, bit lifeless at night,” was all you’d have got. But if you are lucky enough to come here after a fresh dump of snow, you will change your mind. It really wakes you up to the qualities of the place: the immaculate pistes, the wide open bowls, and the fact that midweek, hardly anyone is there, apart from swarms of school kids – who never get much further than the nursery slopes. You then realise what a great short-break destination it is. Time your arrival correctly – to coincide with another storm like ours – and you could have an epic two or three day trip.
In fact, even if you time your arrival badly, you’ll still have a fine old time skiing on-piste. Pila is high, cold and north-facing, and has good snow-making facilities too. It holds its snow really well, and when there’s no powder it’s a great place for cruising about at speed.
Great pistes, low prices, and ideal for a short break
Oh yes – and did we mention how cheap it is? Just don’t expect any nightlife – the village at the base of the lifts is purpose-built, and feels unfocused and half-done. It has none of the charm of its neighbours in the Aosta Valley, Champoluc and Courmayeur, and mid-week is very quiet. It’s only at the weekend that you’ll see any action – so bring your own entertainment, in the form of a large group of friends.
There is an alternative view however, and that is not to stay in Pila at all, but in the city of Aosta. On the plus side, Aosta is one of the most attractive places you can stay while skiing: it has been the regional capital since Roman times, so has more history and attractive buildings than most other European ski resorts combined. It also has plenty of bars and restaurants and, if you are planning to visit other resorts with a car, is right next to the autostrada which runs up the whole valley.
On the minus side, you will need to take a long telecabine ride up every morning, which adds 20 minutes-plus, once you have taken into account getting from your hotel to the base station. But people who have stayed in Aosta once tend to keep staying there, but only you can say if a promenade up the beautiful pedestrianised centre to a nice restaurant is worth the long cable-car ride the next morning.