The Dolomites in northeast Italy are home to the famous SuperDolomiti ski resorts, offering hundreds of kilometres of linked slopes. Formed 200 million years ago and reaching a height of more than 3000 m, this section of the Alps was named after Déodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801), who defined their unique rock composition. Over in the northwest, Italy can boast the two of the highest peaks in the Alps located in above the Aosta valley on the borders of France and Switzerland. Skiing here is a remarkable experience without the free-for-all lift queues of other European resorts. The runs are wide, open and well groomed and if you catch a fresh snowfall, the snowy bowls are brimming with soft snow. The ticket sharing between resorts in the Aosta valley and their close proximity to each other means that you can easily experience three or four different ski areas in one holiday. For a lot of Italians, skiing is not the most important activity on a ski holiday. Sunbathing, eating long lunches and general relaxation are also pretty high on the list. This laid-back atmosphere undoubtedly adds to the charm of an Italian ski holiday. On a final note, we would like to dispel a lingering reputation – Italian ski lifts are not as bad as they are made out to be. Plus, with new lifts being installed all the time and the older ones being systematically renovated or replaced, the infrastructure is catching up with France and Switzerland. You won't find yourself fearing for your life in windy conditions!

Conditions

Italy's mountains are pretty high so it can be very cold in January and February. The weather can sweep down from the north very quickly, meaning mountain-top links can close without warning leaving you stranded in the wrong valley with a long taxi ride back to your hotel. However, being situated in the southern part of the Alps, it is usually slightly warmer than other Alpine countries – perfect for those of you who like to sunbathe at lunchtime. The treeline can be over 2000 m in some resorts making them good in cloudy conditions.

When to go

The best snow is in January and February with March, April and late December offering respectable conditions. Do not consider going in May. Most of the resorts will be closed and any fresh snow melts within a day or two.

Off piste policy

Although it is actually illegal to ski off-piste in Italy, we found that the guides actively encouraged it and the heli-ski companies seem to have immunity. Although we would never encourage anyone to engage in illegal activities, it seems to be a law that is seldom enforced. It goes without saying that any off-piste activity requires transceiver, probe and shovel, as well as the ability to use this equipment.

Where to Ski and Snowboard 2016

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