If you've never been skiing in Italy, you're missing out! Italy offers a relaxed atmosphere, great value and fantastic food. While most Brits head for the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps, you can enjoy quieter slopes, excellent après-ski and world-class, snowsure ski areas in this overlooked winter holiday destination.
As a country that loves children, Italy is a wonderful place for a family ski holiday, with ski schools for kids, baby parks and a wide range of non-ski activities to keep everyone entertained - including ice skating, horse riding and snowshoeing.
Seasoned skiers and snowboarders after a challenge can take to the steep slopes, go off piste and master their carving technique at top resorts for the experienced, such as Courmayeur, where you can also rub shoulders with Italy's well-heeled ski tourists, Madesimo, famed for the Canalone black run and Arabba, with its interesting yet stunning slopes.
Discover three of the best places for a ski holiday in Italy...
Alta Badia, Dolomites
Set in the heart of the Dolomiti Superski Area (one of the largest ski areas in the world with 1,200km of skiable piste), Alta Badia is made up of the villages Corvara, Colfosco, La Villa, Badia and San Cassiano. Winter holidays in Alta Badia aren't just about the skiing, but offer superb food and a winter wonderland experience. Situated at 'snow-proof' altitudes (1400-2700m) with low air humidity means the quality of snow here will flatter any skier. The skiing involves gentle cruising on wide runs and is slow-paced and relaxed, unless you really want to ramp it up on the range of challenging pistes that will keep any level of skier entertained. The area is ideal for beginners due it its many easy runs. There are ski schools and practice slopes in all of the villages. Gourmands will adore Alta Badia for its exquisite cuisine: there are no less than four Michelin stars in the valley and a whole host of foodie-focused events throughout the winter. Find accommodation in Alta Badia at altabadia.org
Madesimo, Spluga Valley
Madesimo? Where? Yes exactly. It's affordable and lesser-known. The friendly, traditional resort is located in the sunny Spluga Valley in Lombardy. For skiers, Madesimo is famous for the near-three kilometre 'Canalone' black descent. Thanks to high altitude slopes in the area up to 3,000m and extensive snowmaking, the resort is relatively snowsure and boasts a season from November to May. The scenery is spectacular with fir and larch forests in the valley and majestic Alpine peaks above. As well as great value, Madesimo offers crowd-free slopes and a lack of lift queues. The high altitude village has good snow from late November until late spring and it's excellent for weekends too. With a modern lift system (there's no drag lifts in sight and the underground funicular railway takes skiers from Campodolcino to Motta Alp in just three minutes), skiers can enjoy maximum slope time on the immaculately groomed pistes. Visit madesimo.com for winter offers, events and news.
Head further south to central Italy and you can experience a very special Italian ski experience in the Apennine Mountains of Abruzzo. Easily reached from Naples or Pescara, Abruzzo is home to Italy's fifth biggest ski area Roccaraso, which boasts over 110km of piste connected by 24 modern ski lifts. With over 350cm of snowfall each winter, the season lasts from December until April. At the weekends, Roccaraso is popular with skiers from Naples, while the pistes are blissfully uncrowded during the week. Many of the runs take you through beech forests and the majority are ideal for intermediate skiers but with some great beginners' slopes too. Roccaraso offers a genuine Italian skiing experience as yet untouched by mass tourism and gets a heavy and lasting snowfall - some years more than the Alps. With its family-run hotels, tasty Italian food and very competitive prices, it's a fine choice for families and skiers looking for a new and off-the-tourist-radar ski experience. SkiAbruzzo.com offers affordable ski holidays to Roccaraso.
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