Champoluc Ski Resort
Champoluc is popular with Italian weekenders from Milan and Turin, but is hardly heard of on the international market. As a result, it retains a friendly, small-scale, unspoiled Italian ambience. Yet it offers some of the best off piste in the whole of Italy.
Champoluc is at one end of the three-valley network. The three-valley network of lifts and pistes is anything but small-scale. Champoluc is at one end of it and Alagna at the other - they are 17km apart - slightly further apart than Courchevel and Val-Thorens. However, it's around a four-hour trip by road to get from Alagna to Champoluc if you miss the last lift. Beginners can start on the beginners slope near the main gondola. Intermediates can ski the wide reds that drop down towards the resort, including the Pistone run. Advanced skiers have some on piste options to explore, mainly in other valleys, but the off piste is where the resort really comes into its own. A glance at the piste map reveals that the Italian network between the two extremes is skeletal compared with the full-bodied French one, though outside the piste network, is a lot of great off-piste terrain, some lift-served, which has long attracted experts. Coupled with a great snow record and a lack of crowds tracking out any fresh snow make the Monterosa a perfect choice for those looking to get some serious back country skiing under their belt. About 3km up the valley, a short funicular goes up from Frachey (with parking right at the base). Down-valley from Champoluc are Antagnod and Brusson. Antagnod is a good alternative for bad-weather days, and has some decent off-piste.
The village is strung out along the one-way street running from the centre past various hotels to the gondola base station, where a cluster of shops and bars form the hub of the village. The village is pleasant, giving off a rustic Italian charm. It is easiest to fly to Turin which is a 1.5 hour transfer away. Alternatively Milan airport is a 2 hour transfer from the resort.
Resort website: www.aosta-valley.co.uk