Skiing in Italy
Ski resorts in Italy - a tourist guide
Thanks to Italy's mountainous geography, the country offers plenty of good ski resorts, including the famous Cortina d'Ampezzo and Courmayeur. The best winter sports facilities can be found in Italy's northern, Alpine regions, which are well-served by budget flights from the UK. But even the south of Italy can offer a few winter sports options. Skiing is popular in Italy and, thanks to the number of ski resorts, a fairly commonplace activity. A large proportion of Italians, in addition to their month-long summer holiday, will take a 'settimana bianca' (white week) and spend a week skiing in the winter.
> Hotels, B&Bs and holiday rentals in Italy
Italian ski resorts
The most useful Italian airports (served by budget airlines) for skiing holidays are
Turin, Milan, Bergamo, Verona and Venice Treviso. An advantage of planning your own holiday is that you can combine a break in one of these cities with a few days skiing at your own pace.
Where to ski in Italy
In the north-west of Italy, Turin is one of the most convenient budget airports for ski holidays. It is also the base for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Directly west of Turin, and very close to the border with France, lies the Valle di Susa, a valley on the Turin-Paris trainline. In this area there are several busy ski resorts, including Sauze d'Oulx, Bardonecchia and the fashionable and modern Sestriere (2035m). Sestriere lies in the Valle del Chisone, and is a well-developed
resort with 20 ski-lifts, an ice-skating rink and cross-country trails. Buses run to Sestriere from Turin; alternatively local buses travel from Oulx station on the Turin-France railway.
Further north lies the Valle d'Aosta, a large area with a distinct identity of its own. French is spoken here as well as Italian. Castles, pine forests and wooden chalets shelter in the shadows of high peaks including some of Europe's mightiest mountains: Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa.
Courmayeur is one of Italy's best and most glamorous ski resorts; offering masses of downhill skiing, ice-skating, cross-country skiing, cable-cars, chairlifts and helicopters. The resort lies at the foot of Mont Blanc, and caters for summer as well as winter skiing. Other good destinations in this area include Breuil-Cervinia, the spa town St Vincent, Pila and Cogne.
Over to the north-east of Italy are the Dolomites (Dolomiti), an extensive mountain range offering countless possibilities for winter sports and summer holidays. 12 different skiing areas are linked together to form the 'Dolomiti Superski' network.
Resorts in this area include the popular Madonna di Campiglio and Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of the most well-known ski resorts in Italy.
> Skiing in the Dolomites
Although the Alpine areas of northern Italy offer the most well-known and developed resorts, Italy's mountainous backbone creates plenty of more southerly opportunities for winter sports. The Gran Sasso, east of Rome, is home to the Campo Felice ski resort, with 16 lifts and a ski school. In Calabria, the Sila Massif offers 35km of cross-country skiing trails, although only 2 downhill slopes.
Ski resort accommodation
You may find it cheaper to organise a special package including flights, accommodation and ski passes. But nowadays taking advantage of budget flights and going it alone is a good option. This way you get maximum flexibility, and can tailor your holiday to best suit your needs and budget.
> Accommodation throughout Italy
> Accommodation in the Dolomiti Superski area