For spectacular scenery, incredible mountain food and some of the Alps’ finest skiing and snowboarding, Italy is the destination for you. Prices are also generally lower than further north in France, Austria and Switzerland, meaning your money goes further, both on the slopes when it comes to buying lift passes or lessons, but also in those all-important mountain restaurants.
There are two main areas of skiing in Italy – the Aosta Valley and the Dolomites. In the Aosta Valley, expect beautiful views of spectacular alpine peaks such as the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, coupled with high-altitude and snowsure skiing at the likes of Cervinia, Courmayeur and Pila, plus incredible off piste terrain at Alagna and Gressoney-la-Trinite. Over in the Dolomites further east, the scenery is arguably more spectacular, with towering peaks and ancient towns. Top resorts include Canazei, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Madonna di Campiglio – plus it is here that you’ll find the very best Italian mountain cuisine.
Notable exceptions to these two main regions include the Milky Way ski area to the west of Turin (for the likes of Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere), the province of Sondrio (including Bormio, Livigno and Santa Caterina) up by the Swiss border to the north of Lake Garda and the Apennine Mountains to the north of Rome.
In terms of the terrain, much of the skiing is geared towards intermediates – particularly in the Dolomites – but there is also some fine off piste, especially in the Aosta Valley. Snow reliability has been an issue in the past, but snowmaking coverage across the country is exceptional and approaches 100% in parts of the Dolomites.
Accommodation is usually of a good standard, with lots of options available for all budgets and wishes at the main ski areas. For example around the Milky Way you can choose to stay in lively Sauze d’Oulx or in quieter Chiesa, or if you’d rather ski Madonna di Campliglio but stay somewhere quitter, then Folgarida is a great option.
As mentioned and perhaps as expected, the standard of the food is usually excellent – a long, sunny lunch stop here is just as important as the skiing! For the best food, the valley near Alta Badia is world-renowned as home to more Michelin stars than some of the world’s biggest cities. Pasta is of course a staple, but head towards the Austrian border for a strong Tirolean influence and make sure you stop for a coffee, not only will it be very good, but the prices will be very affordable.
Depending on where you’re heading to, there are various airport options, all of which are practical and often good value. Turin acts as a great hub for the Milky Way and Aosta Valley, Milan is great for the latter and the likes of Bormio, whilst the Dolomites are best reached via Venice or Treviso. Lots of transfers are then available, or hiring a car is a good option.
Our main grumble with Italian skiing would be the snow reliability. Although snowmaking has helped, snow droughts can persist here for weeks, confining you firmly to the pistes, even in mid-winter. Lift systems can also be a bit antiquated despite recent investment and real advanced or expert skiers and snowboarders may find limited options at many resorts.