Winter holidays to Italy are all about relaxed skiing, laid-back après and authentic food. A lot of the resorts here are world-famous and super popular thanks to their location in amazing ski areas like the Dolomiti Superski or Milky Way. But what if you want to stay somewhere cheaper, quieter, more traditional or more family-friendly? Well then take a look at these under-the-radar picks.
Best for: Peace & quiet
This hamlet’s a great-value base in the Campiglio ski area – and it’s also quieter than the main resort, Madonna di Campiglio. Take your pick from a handful of traditional, high-quality hotels, and get quick access to 150km of slopes in total.
The runs closest to Folgarida are mostly blues and reds, so beginners and intermediates can stick around here to work on their technique. Keen to explore further? Use the speedy lift network to get out to the wider ski area, where you’ve got everything from scenic, tree-lined runs to steeper terrain, and even a World Cup piste.
At the end of the day, you can head back to the peaceful bubble of Folgarida – where the ideal way to spend the evening is relaxing in a hotel bar with a glass of wine, chatting to friends and asking the staff for tips on where to ski tomorrow.
Stay: Park Hotel Folgarida – With ski-in, ski-out access and a laid-back feel, this place shows what Folgarida is all about. When you’re not out on the mountain, you can simply relax in the indoor pool and spa. Or if you do fancy something a bit livelier, spend your evenings watching live music and shows.
Santa Cristina Val Gardena
Best for: A big ski area
Get all the charm of an authentic village – and avoid the crowds – while still staying in the biggest ski area in the world, the Dolomiti Superski. Santa Cristina has a traditional South Tyrolean look and feel, with a 12th-century church, wooden buildings and a relaxed nightlife scene centred around the hotels.
As for the skiing, you can wake up your ski legs on long reds in the local Val Gardena slopes. And if you’ve got more experience, don’t miss the Saslong World Cup run – it’s one of the best-known expert pistes in Italy. Then when you’re ready to go further, the rest of the 1,200km area is your oyster. You can even complete one of the world’s most famous ski circuits, the 26km loop of blues and reds that make up the Sella Ronda.
Stay: Vitalpina Hotel Dosses – A high-quality hotel that’s known for great food, with a focus on fresh but filling Mediterranean and alpine fare to give you lots of energy for the slopes. You can also join in their free ski guiding sessions and snowshoe walks, or just spend some time swimming in the heated outdoor pool, surrounded by snowy mountain views.
Best for: Families
A convenient resort, good-value hotels and a small ski area… this place ticks all the boxes for a family ski holiday. It’s quiet during the week so you can make the most of the empty slopes and not having to queue for lifts. Then there’s a livelier atmosphere at the weekends, when locals come from Milan and Turin, so you get the best of both worlds.
The 70km ski area has lots of wide blues and reds where intermediate families can ski together. And most of them are high altitude and north-facing, so the snow should be good all season – including over the Christmas and Easter school holidays. Looking for a lunch stop to please everyone? You can’t go wrong with authentic pizza and pasta, and there are plenty of places to try it here.
As for kid-friendly après fun, you can race each other down the slopes in tubing rings or go for spin around the ice rink. Or catch the lift down the mountain to the Roman town of Aosta and spend a couple of hours wandering around the historical sights and shops.
Stay: TH Pila – This modern pick offers full-board meals, so that’s your breakfast, lunch and dinner taken care of (and some drinks are included while you’re eating too). Kids can burn off extra energy in the play area, and in the evening, you can sit out on the terrace and soak up beautiful views of the valley and peaks. See if you can spot Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.
Best for: Beginners & activities
If you’re new to skiing or want a resort with lots of other things to do too, Drei Zinnen is the one for you. It’s made up of several villages, surrounded by 115km of piste where beginners can learn the ropes and practise their technique. And because it’s relatively unheard of outside Italy, the slopes are super quiet. Start out in one of the great nursery areas (there’s one in each village), then move on to the short blue runs around Sesto and the longer, tree-lined ones down from Croda Rossa.
The main centre off the slopes is San Candido, a car-free village with high-end hotels and chic bars. Foodies will want to visit all of the villages though, to try the range of restaurants serving a mix of Tyrolean and Mediterranean fare – don’t miss the Michlin-starred Ristorante Tilia in Dobbiaco.
There are also loads of other activities to do here, from scaling a frozen waterfall on an ice climbing adventure to having a go at grooming the slopes by learning to drive a piste basher. And if you keep an eye out on the mountain, you might spot Italy’s only wild herd of reindeer.
Stay: Leitlhof Dolomiten – This contemporary pick is in a quiet spot above San Candido. You can look forward to meal times in the excellent restaurant, where dishes are made with produce from the hotel owner’s farm. And the luxurious spa is a highlight too, with its indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, saunas and steam rooms.