When you’re thinking about where to book your next ski trip, Italy might not have crossed your mind. In fact, Italy is often overlooked as a mainstream winter sports destination.
If you read our post on the lovely resort of Champoluc, you’ll see that Italian resorts cater for all abilities, with gorgeous scenery and fabulous restaurants. Skiing holidays here are often considerably less expensive than in the other main Alpine countries, too.
Italy is also a great destination for families and less experienced skiers. You’ll always be given a warm welcome, especially if you have small children in tow.
So, if the idea of Italy is starting to pique your interest, read on…
Courmayeur for Off-Piste, Apres-Ski and Shopping
Courmayeur is an all-round destination with varied skiing to suit all abilities and some of the best off-piste Italy has to offer. Skiing here really gets the adrenaline pumping, with beautiful slopes and Mont Blanc as a backdrop.
But a holiday here isn’t just about the skiing. A host of great restaurants can be found in and around the resort, as well as some fabulous shopping opportunities and a good choice of friendly hotels. So you’ll be able to have as much fun off the mountain as on it.
Courmayeur is conveniently located for a choice of three international airports (Milan, Turin and Geneva), offering transfer times of between 90 minutes and two-and-a-half hours. For thrill seekers there are some excellent off-piste itineraries, such as the Vallee Blanche and the testing decent of the Toula glacier. Then there’s the heli-skiing, which is both affordable and exhilarating.
Madonna is for Chic Skiers Who Like to See and Be Seen
Madonna di Campiglio is a UNESCO world heritage site set in the wooded surroundings of the Brenta Dolomites. If you’re looking for gorgeous scenery as well as flattering skiing, then Madonna di Campiglio is where you need to be heading.
Its rating as Italy’s top ski resorts for piste-grooming means it’s a great place to develop your skills on the slopes. Although suitable for all skiing abilities and offering some good nursery slopes, to get the most out of this resort you really need to be an intermediate skier.
The tree-lined pistes offer some decent terrain and a mainly modern lift system. Plus, if you obtain a Superskirama pass you’ll also have access to the neighbouring resorts of Marilleva, Folgarida, as well as the peaceful slopes of Pinzola.
Madonna di Campiglio is a resort for people who don’t like the hectic hustle and bustle of busier resorts. It remains relatively uncrowded year-round and has plenty of opportunities for relaxed skiing.
Families can enjoy the nursery slopes and quiet atmosphere, whereas freestylers can shred Groste – one of Italy’s best terrain parks. Off the mountain Madonna di Campiglio offers great restaurants to cater for all tastes, from pizzerias to Michelin-starred excellence.
The hotels welcome both families and groups, with many situated right in the heart of the village so you can ski to your door. Madonna di Campiglio is a resort you need to add to your list – especially if you’re looking for an intermediate destination.
Madesimo, Perfect for Families on a Budget
Madesimo is an enjoyable place for family ski holidays. A relatively small and compact resort, its pistes are maintained to a high standard and there are opportunities for all abilities, from novice to expert.
The resort is also great for families, with a friendly ambiance and accessible slopes. A modern lift system means you hardly ever have to queue – even at the busiest times of year.
Night-skiing is on the cards with floodlit runs, and freestylers can take full advantage of MadePark, one the best snowparks Italy has to offer. And for those wanting a challenge, Madesimo’s answer is the Canalone – offering 1000m of ungroomed and exhilarating skiing.
More fun can be found on the 70km snowmobile track, which leads up the high Spluga pass to the Swiss border – an experience that’s well worth doing. Madesimo is also well suited to people on a budget, with holidays here some of the most inexpensive in Italy.
San Cassiano: From Wide Gentle Pistes to Thrilling Off-Piste
San Cassiano is just one of the resorts in the Alta Badia area that gives you a real taste of the country’s skiing – and taste is where it all begins.
Prime place to stay is Hotel Rosa Alpina, which has been owned by the Pizzinini family since 1940 and houses one of the best restaurants in the area. Resident chef, Norbert Niederkofler, creates local dishes with a gourmet twist.
Here you’ll find skiing for all standards in a vast ski area (that includes Cortina d’Ampezzo on the Superski Dolomiti lift pass), which would take a lifetime of holidays to fully explore. One charming village leads to another by gondola, chair-lift and a network of mainly blue and red runs.
However, don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an area just for intermediates with mainly wide and gentle pistes. The off-piste can be extremely challenging and should only be tackled when you’re accompanied by a local guide.
Cervinia for Early- and Late-Season Skiers
Cervinia is a high-altitude resort that has guaranteed snow both early and late in the season (and in summer), making it a year-round destination for all abilities. The scenery is breathtaking too, with wide open slopes on the sunny side of the Matterhorn.
For experienced intermediates, Cervinia is an endurance test, with plenty of long stamina-sapping slopes including one of the longest runs in Europe: a 13km trip spanning a 2000m descent down to Valtournenche. The lift pass includes neighbouring Zermatt across the border in Switzerland.
Some of the most popular hotels are located at the base of the slopes, providing easy access and ensuring you can be skiing in next to no time. The nursery slopes are right on the edge of the village, so beginners won’t have far to walk. There’s also a range of fabulous restaurants both on and off the mountain.
Cervinia is home to an ice-karting track that’s perfect for pitting your skills against those of your friends.
Sauze d’Oulx: a Big Intermediate Area That’s Good Value
Sauze d’Oulx in the 1970s and 1980s had a reputation as a Benidorm-on-ice, where pubs were more important to its holidaymakers than pistes. The transformation has taken more than 30 years, but it’s now back to being the charming Italian village it once was.
The resort’s other major selling point is its restaurants, with excellent places both to eat on and off the mountain. And you don’t need to spend a fortune in Sauze – the prices are a roughly a third of those in an A-list French resort.
Here’s some reasons why a ski holiday in Italy should be on your agenda:
• Cheaper to visit than many other Alpine countries
• Plenty of family-friendly resorts
• Challenging opportunities for experts
• Beautiful scenery that includes backdrops of the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Marmolada
• Fabulous food and apres-ski
So, if you haven’t yet skied in Italy, it’s time to go and see what it’s all about. Or, if you have already been to one of Italy’s resorts, then let us know about it in the comments box below – we’d love to hear your opinion!