Here’s four great reasons to get you started:
Cross-border international skiing
Why you’d want to leave Bella Italia is beyond me, but it’s a great bragging right to say you’ve skied over the border to another country.
And it’s not that difficult to do – one or two weeks experience and there are runs that will take you international.
- Claviere and the Milky Way to Montgenevre
Low key Claviere sits on the border with France. In fact, the border post is right outside our main hotel, the Grande Claviere. The Claviere and Montgenevre lift passes are the best value to get the most of this ski area, which is both high altitude and brilliant for beginners and intermediates. A word of warning though – coming back from Montgenevre involves either a very flat trail running along by a stream at valley level, or a high altitude black run, so make sure you are topped up on energy / courage depending on your preference.
- La Thuile to La Rosiere
A La Thuile lift pass includes all the lifts in La Rosiere, so international skiing here is a daily occurrence (though many agree the best snow is found on the Italian side due to the North or East-facing slopes).
Head out early, take your time to enjoy the red runs after the fort at the beginning of La Rosiere before stopping for ‘dejeuner en Francais’ in one of the slope-side restaurants before heading home.
- Cervinia to Zermatt
In less than half an hour you can be skiing the slopes of Zermatt on the Theodulgletscher having avoided both the extortionate Swiss prices and queues for the cable cars first thing.
If you are a serious skier, head out from Cervinia on the first lift and you can get down to Zermatt centre, then jump on the mountain train to Gornergrat for a spot of lunch before heading back to Italy in time for a post-ski aperitivo. Just remember your passport, as the Swiss have a habit of checking on the border!
- Courmayeur to Chamonix
One of my best ski days ever was a trip up from Courmayeur to ski the Vallee Blanche winding up in the centre of Chamonix.
The cable car to Punta Helbronner is currently out of action until 2015 as it’s being re-fitted, so there’s around 30 minutes of walking to meet the glacier, but you avoid big queues and heart-stopping precipices on the French side.
Find out more from the Alpine Guides Society in Courmayeur.
If that’s not your cup of tea, take the 30 minute trip through the Mont Blanc tunnel to experience skiing Cham for one day of your Courmayeur ski holiday.
Brevent and Flegere are great for intermediates, whilst the thrill seekers should head to Les Grand Montets, all of which can be reached easily on the Chamonix ski bus.
SHORTEST TRANSFERS IN THE ALPS
If the prospect of endless hairpin bends on a gravity-defying coach brings you out in palpitatitions, fear not. Italy has some of the most cushy transfers from airport to ski resort in the Alps.
The shortest is undoubtedly Turin to Sauze d’Oulx, which takes just under 1 hour, and 95 percent is by motorway.
It’s only another 10 minutes drive to the pretty town of Bardonecchia, which is motorway all the way.
In the other direction, head up the A5 autostrade to Courmayeur in around 1 hour 45 minutes and no heart-stopping bends to contend with. It’s then just 20 minutes (OK up some hairpins, but worth it) to La Thuile.
For high altitude, you can reach Cervinia in just 90 minutes in good weather, and Sestriere in around 2 hours.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE VIEWS
The Dolomiti Superski spans 1220km – all of which sits under UNESCO World Heritage protection.
Over 600km of the ski area is linked, with the majority focussed around one humungous rock – the Sella. It’s possible to circuit this on the Sella Ronda in a day’s ski trip in either direction on a trail spanning 40km (26km of which are downhill) – something that has to be ticked off at least once in every skier or boarder’s life.
The anti-clockwise route is slightly easier, and anybody with good stamina and a good control of parallel turns can make it round. A girl staying in the same chalet as me in the Val di Fassa this winter had only been skiing 2 weeks and made it round at the end of her holiday, and came home with a beaming smile on her face and feeling very proud indeed.
There’s also a number of other trails to follow, including a tour taking in a museum perched on a glacier dedicated to the soldiers of the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies who lived inside the Marmolada’s ice trenches during the First World War.
And one more thing – don’t miss the Hidden Valley from the top of the Lagazuoi lift. Just make sure you have a couple of euros for the horses on the way out….
You should be. Go now and see for yourself.
VALUE FOR MONEY
Ok, jokes about the crumbling European economies and the Euro crisis apart, Italy has always been fantastic value as a ski destination when compared to its neighbours.
Livigno, enjoying tax-free status in its remote corner of Italy offers ski school at nearly half the price of ski school in Nendaz, Switzerland. The stronger pound also means good news for skiers here – with a 9% drop in resort costs as prices fall and the exchange rate works in British skiers’ favour.
A 6 day lift pass to cover you in Italy’s Milky Way and giving you 400km of skiing and will cost you 20% less than a 6 day pass to the 425km of skiing in France’s Paradiski, coming in around €180 as opposed to over €250 (based on last season’s prices).
Your holiday will cost you significantly less too.
Based on today’s prices, a week in the 3 star Hotel Tignes 2100 will set you back over £600 per person for a week in mid March – for the same week a holiday to the 4 star Hotel du Col in the Milky Way resort of Sestriere is currently just £479 per person.
Prices correct at time of publication and based on 4 adults flying from London Gatwick on 16/17 March 2013. Prices can vary due to demand. For the latest prices and availability, visit the Crystal Ski website.
3 MORE REASONS TO GO SKIING IN ITALY
Read part 2 to learn more about why skiing in Italy is too good to miss.
EXCLUSIVE SKI-BUZZ SAUZE D’OULX HOLIDAY DEAL
Crystal Ski have an exclusive deal on a 4-star holiday to Sauze d’Oulx in Italy just for Ski-buzz readers – but hurry, this offer ends on 31 October 2012.
WHY DO YOU LOVE ITALY?
Do you love skiing in Italy? Which resort is your favourite? Leave a comment and share your experiences.