Italy's ski resorts combine magnificent views, great pistes, overall good snow conditions, and value. Oh, and mountain huts where to gorge on the food and the bombardino.
Val di Fassa – Trentino
Canazei is one of the hot destinations when it comes to skiing in the Dolomites. Near three famous mountain passes, Pordoi, Sella and Fedaia, Canazei is part of the Dolomiti Superski ski carousel, which features 1200 km of pistes, divided by four ski areas, including, near Canazei itself, the Belvedere Col-Rodella, the Buffaure-Ciampac and the Marmolada. A cable car goes up to the panoramic terrace of Punta Rocca on the Marmolada, the highest peak of the Dolomites, with a stop at the Marmolada Grande Guerra 3000M Museum, complete with exhibitions on First World War. Sass Pordoi offers views that reach the Swiss and Austrian Alps. You can different winter sports, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and, in the evening, recharge at one of the traditional restaurants.
Breuil-Cervinia - Aosta Valley
The slopes are all at high altitude, which ensures excellent snow cover throughout the season, as well as spectacular views, in the shadow of the stupendous Matterhorn (4478m), and some of the highest peaks in Europe. The easy connection with Zermatt in Switzerland and Valtournenche in the Aosta Valley means that there are 350 km of slopes. Cervinia is a glamourous location, at 2,000 meters just in front of the Matterhorn, loved by celebrities and ordinary people alike; it is also a good place to go skiing with children, as there are numerous schools and instructors.
Lombardy – Livigno and Bormio
There is great skiing to be found near Milan, which is well connected to the rest of Europe by low-cost airlines. Livigno is just a couple of hours from the city and, besides being one of the best equipped ski resorts in the north of Italy, it's also a shopping paradise, given that items are duty free in the area. There are 250 shops to browse, when you’re done having fun on the 115 km of snow-covered slopes. Another nearby place to ski is Bormio, a spa town, just 40 minutes away, in the National Park of the Stelvio; in the past, it hosted the Ski World Championships.
Piedmont – Sestriere
One of the best known ski resorts in Italy is Sestriere, at 2,035m the highest town in the country, located between the two valleys of Susa and Chisone, 60 miles from Turin. At the border with France, Sestriere features high-level Olympic tracks, suitable for experienced skiers, as well as easier slopes for everyone. The ski district is known as Via Lattea, Milky Way. Sestriere is connected to 146 pistes, for a total of up to 400 km of trails. Sestriere has also one of the few facilities where it’s possible to ski at night on a floodlit run. Sestriere has roughly 900 inhabitants, but the population goes up to 20,000 during the winter season.
Veneto – Cortina d’Ampezzo
Veneto’s Cortina d’Ampezzo is still the ‘coolest place’ to spend the winter holidays in Italy, where glamour and ski go together. The area offers magnificent landscapes, 140 km of tracks, as well as historic itineraries to learn about the Great War fought here. The main ski areas include Faloria, Cristallo, Pocol-Tofana and Cinque Torri. Cortina hosted the Winter Olympics of 1956. Corso Italia is the main street in town, lined with high-end boutiques and restaurants, where to see and be seen after a day of skiing, if that’s your thing.
Emilia Romagna – Corno alle Scale
Bologna is the birthplace of ski champion Alberto Tomba, a former World Cup alpine ski racer and the dominant skier in slalom and giant slalom in the late 1980s and 1990s. Track Tomba 1 is dedicated to him, the most difficult and technical of the Corno alle Scale ski area, located between the mountains of Cornaccio and Cupolino, in the Apennines about an hour and a half from Bologna. The area offers 15 km of alpine ski slopes, two loops for cross-country skiing, snowboarding areas and baby parks for little ones.
Tuscany – Abetone
There are many great places to go skiing in the Apennines as you keep heading south, such as Abetone, on the border between Tuscany and Emilia, about 80 km north-west of Florence. The three tracks designed in the 70s by champion Zeno Colò are the most exciting, within an area that offers 50 km of snow-covered trails for downhill skiing and 18 km for cross-country skiing, as well as trails for snowshoeing. Abetone, in Italian ‘large fir’, was created as a custom post on the main road from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Modena, founded in 1732.
Abruzzo – Roccaraso
Roccaraso and Rivisondoli are the two most famous ski resorts in Abruzzo, not far from Rome and Naples. The area is known as the Alto Sangro Skipass, which consists of 150 km of downhill slopes and 60 km for cross-country skiers. The most inspiring piste is the legendary Direttissima, which starts at the top of Monte Pratello, and is 2 km long.
Molise – Matese
Overlooked Molise is a land of mountains and there is decent skiing to be found in Del Caprio di Campitello, which is also used international competitions. With 40 km of slopes and 7 lifts, the Campitello Matese-San Massimo area is the most equipped in the region and offers the possibility to practice all kinds of winter sports.