The laid-back atmosphere, quiet slopes and quality mountain restaurants are what make skiing in Italy so great. Many of the resorts are traditional farming villages and working mountain towns, though there are a few purpose-built ones too. Italy’s home to some of Europe’s biggest ski areas, so you can really rack up the miles – or take it easy and make time for long lunches in true Italian style. Here’s our run-down of the best places to ski here.
Best for high-altitude skiing: Cervinia
Cervinia’s at the end of the Aosta valley, below the mountain the locals call Monte Cervino – better known as the Matterhorn. And the lifts top out at an impressive 3,480m, so it’s one of the best resorts for high-altitude skiing. The easy greens and blues at the top of the Plan Maison lift are perfect for beginners, and intermediates can test their legs on the 11km Ventina red run. If you fancy more of a challenge, use your area lift pass to explore the steeper runs around Zermatt, which is across the border in Switzerland.
The compact resort centre is car-free and filled with some excellent restaurants and bars – it’s especially lively at the weekends when locals head here from Turin and Milan. Accommodation-wise, you can expect mostly modern, purpose-built hotels with a few traditional wooden buildings dotted here and there.
Best for families: Passo Tonale
From the quiet, snowsure slopes to its relaxed atmosphere, Passo Tonale has a lot to love for families. Most of the hotels are close to the lifts, so you won’t have too far to walk with your ski gear, and they’ve got lots of family-friendly facilities – our favourite is the Grand Hotel Paradiso, which is also home to our Crystal Childcare clubs. The mountain’s got lots of gentle runs that are ideal for exploring together, like the Leolandia Fantaski kids’ ski area, which has a mini magic carpet, inflatable slide and baby snowbikes.
There are heaps of other activities to enjoy too. Swap your skis for skates at the ice rink, go for a ride on a fat bike, or make some furry friends on a dog-sledding adventure. And on Wednesday evenings, head to the Tubbo magic carpet for games, facing painting and a kids’ torchlit descent.
Best for nightlife: Sauze d’Oulx
Sauze d’Oulx has calmed down a lot since the 80s, when it was known as a party town, but it’s still home to some of the best après in Europe. Kick things off with music and dancing on the terrace of the Capanna Mollino mountain restaurant. Or you can head to the Village Café to make the most of their happy hour discounts. And for a taste of Italian culture, check out Il Lampione – a cosy cellar bar in the old town that serves up local Piedmontese wines and hosts live bands several nights a week.
When it comes to skiing, Sauze d’Oulx is a great base for exploring the 400km Milky Way ski area. Rack up the miles by visiting the neighbouring resorts of Sestriere, Claviere and the French resort of Montgenèvre. Or stick to the local slopes above Sauze and take your pick from some top-notch tree-lined reds – ideal for intermediate cruising.
Best for beginners: La Thuile
With a big nursery area in the village and lots of gentle runs to progress to, La Thuile ticks lots of boxes for beginner skiers. Once you’ve mastered the basics, hop on the Suches gondola to explore the network of confidence-building blue runs below the Combe chairlift. The pistes tend to be quiet here, particularly during the week, so you should have plenty of space to practise your turns. And with lots of high, north-facing slopes you’ll normally have good snow conditions throughout the winter.
La Thuile is an old mining community with a low-key atmosphere, so it’s a popular pick for families too. The old village centre dates back to the Middle Ages, and you’ll find some cosy cafés and restaurants lining the cobbled streets. Things are more modern across the river at the purpose-built Planibel hotel complex. Just metres from the main gondola, it’s one of our best ski-in, ski-out accommodations and is also home to La Thuile’s liveliest nightspot, the Kings Pub.
Best for racking up the miles: Corvara and Colfosco
These two villages are in the middle of Italy’s huge Dolomiti Superski area, so there’s no shortage of slopes – your area pass gets you access to all 1,200km of piste, shared between 12 different resorts. If you fancy a big ski day, tackle the Sella Ronda circuit. This famous loop of intermediate runs stretches for 26km and has impressive views of the Dolomite mountains along the way.
As for the villages themselves, they’re both typically South Tyrolean, with lots of chalet-style buildings surrounding a central piazza. You can stay in a family-run hotel or cosy guesthouse, where friendly service is a priority. Evenings here are pretty quiet, so après-ski activities are all about sampling the local Ladin cuisine and snuggling up by the fire – just what you need after a busy day on the slopes.
Best for convenience: Sestriere
Developed in the 1930s, Sestriere was Italy’s first purpose-built resort, so it’s no surprise that it’s so convenient to get around. It’s a short walk to the slopes from most accommodation, and there are over 50 restaurants so you won’t have to venture far to find some authentic Italian cuisine. It’s quieter than neighbouring Sauze d’Oulx, but there’s still a good range of bars to choose from too.
Sitting at 2,035m, Sestriere’s also one of Italy’s highest resorts. If you’re just finding your ski legs, head to the large nursery area next to the village. The rest of the 400km Milky Way ski area is an intermediates playground, with plenty of long red slopes to carve down. Or for more of a challenge, check out the Kandahar Banchetta downhill run, which was used in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
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