Looking for some winter thrill in Italy? Head to the Dolomites and ski down these challenging pistes surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the world.
[In Europe, pistes are classified by a color-coded system: blue stands for easy, red for intermediate and black for expert skiers. Most of the ones below are black. But hey, you were looking for a thrill, right?]
Used for international competitions, the black Ciampac is one of the most famous pistes of the Val di Fassa. Suitable only for expert skiers, it requires a great deal of concentration to tackle a few walls; the piste starts at 2160 m of altitude and, with an average gradient of 34% and a vertical drop of 660 m, ends at 1550m right in the center of the mountain village of Canazei. It is 2,5km long.
A very famous ski slope, the Pista Saslong is a black piste for expert skiers which begins at Mount Ciampinoi (2249m) and ends in Santa Cristina in the popular Val Gardena. Every year in December, the World Cup downhill competition is held here. It is 3,5 km long with a drop of 800 meters and a spectacular panorama all around, with views of the Sassolungo (in fact, it is considered among the most beautiful pistes in Italy). It starts right with a steep wall, followed by a plain stretch, soon replaced by walls and bends; in the final stretch, you can reach speeds of up to 100 km/h. Wow.
Pista Gran Risa
Also considered among the most beautiful in Italy, the Gran Risa piste in the Alta Badia valley hosts the World Cup races. It begins at 2077m at Piz La Ila and drops 650m to the village of La Villa. Immersed in the woods, it features major bends and walls; the last one is the longest and most challenging. If you change your mind after the initial wall, you can opt for the red piste on the right.
Pista Col Margherita
A panoramic descent, with views over the splendid Pale di San Martino in the first section and over the Marmolada in the last part, the varied Pista Col Margherita begins at the top of the San Pellegrino Pass at 2500m. There are a couple of easier variants that allow you to skip the most challenging walls. It is almost 3 km long with a drop of 650m.
This may very well be the most spectacular and famous piste of the Alpine arc. It is a record piste: on the Marmolada, which is the highest mountain of the Dolomites, it is 12 km long (!) with a drop of more than 1000m. The track, which isn’t too difficult, begins at Punta Rocca (3270m), traverses the Marmolada glacier to Passo Fedaia and then descends to Malga Ciapela (1446m).