By Andrew Regan
When it comes to snow sports, Italians tend to be a little more laid back with their skiing compared to their French, Swiss or Austrian cousins. In Italy, rather than queuing to catch the first lift to the summit, skiers are more likely to rise late, take a long lunch and finish early for an après ski Peroni beer, a glass of Cinzano or a shot of dark espresso. On a sunny day, you’re likely to find more sun seekers than snow seekers, and it’s not uncommon to see people stripped down to the briefs and bikinis, sitting on a slope-side sun deck soaking up the rays.
Italy is normally overshadowed as a ski destination by the better known ski resorts in France, Switzerland and Austria, but the Italians have a superb selection of their own resorts and are perhaps happy to keep their skiing secrets to themselves.
However, as hosts of the 2006 winter Olympics which took place in and around Torino (Turin), Italy has proven itself worthy of competing as a ski destination in the international arena and for many clued-in Brits, Italy’s laid back attitude to life, love of fine food and wine, good value for money and beautiful mountains are an ongoing draw.
Italy has over 100 resorts scattered throughout the northern part of the country, in the Italian Alps, and the jagged Dolomites. With plenty of cheap flights to Milan, the city is one of the gateways to Italian ski resorts, with a number of superb options less than three hours’ drive from the airport.
Bardonecchia, the French border town which hosted snowboarding events for the 2006 Olympics, is a truly authentic Italian experience with tree lined streets and rustic chalets. Cervinia, has a long ski season running from December to May, and is also linked to Zermatt in Switzerland, meaning you can pop over the border for lunch, should you feel the need for a chunk of Swiss chocolate!
One of the more recent favourites with British skiers is the duty free ski town of Livingo. Known for its lively nightlife, (not surprisingly fueled by the availability of duty free alcohol), wide open and expansive pistes and one of the best terrain parks in Italy, the resort tends to attract a young crowd looking for a great value destination with superb skiing and snowboarding.
As Britain’s skiers become increasingly well traveled, Italy, along with other countries slightly less well known for their skiing, are likely to become even more popular for those looking to experience the laid back lifestyle, incredible scenery and warm Italian reception.
Andrew Regan is an online, freelance author from Scotland. He is a keen rugby player and enjoys traveling.