If you’re used to skiing in North America, always remember that skiing in Europe is somewhat different. Trail level designations are not always the same; what Europeans call beginner trails may be more like American intermediate, and some may have dangerous drop-offs on one side. Safety fences are not as common, and grooming is often impossible in such vast areas. Allow time to get off the mountain safely at the end of the day and be aware of the closing times for lifts, so you are not stranded. Alpine snow storms can cause serious driving delays, so it’s smart to allow plenty of time to make return flights. This is not to scare you, but just a warning and eye opener for you. Here are some places you can stay in at Italy when you are on a ski trip.
Best known of the dozen Dolomite ski resorts ever since the 1956 Winter Olympics were held here is Cortina d’Ampezzo. The glacier-carved profile of vertical faces and rocky pinnacles won the Dolomites a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, and the skiing here is world class as well. The town is well equipped with hotels in every range, smart shops (this is the most fashionable of the Dolomite resorts by far), restaurants, cafés, and several spas. If jet-set glamour is part of your Italy ski dream, you’ll find it here. But you can also find midrange lodgings in Cortina, such as the chalet-style, Hotel Natale, with magnificent views from its carved wooden.
For glitz and glamour in the Val d’Aosta, head to Courmayeur, high on the shoulder of Mont Blanc near the French border and the Mont Blanc Tunnel. While the beautiful people from Milan and Turin have made the pretty little ski village the place to be seen on weekends, there’s no denying the quality of the skiing, or the scenery. For views of the top of Europe from its highest mountain, ride up the funivia Monte Bianco cable car to the ridgeline, where views seem to stretch forever. Expert skiers seeking thrills should hire a guide and hope for the perfect conditions when the unmarked and expert-only pistes from the Arp are open if they are not, you won’t be allowed to bring skis up the lift, but you should go for the views. The area offers plenty of off-piste skiing, for which you will need a guide.
Alpe di Siusi:
In the heart of the Dolomites near Val Gardena, Alpe di Siusi’s 60 kilometers of slopes have something rare almost guaranteed snow, even if nature doesn’t cooperate. With 100 percent of its slopes equipped with snowmaking, and an efficient grooming system, they can assure good skiing from December through March. Although 86 percent of the terrain at the combined resorts of Alpe di Siusi and Seiser Alm is for advanced skiers, by far the highest in the Dolomites, its own 60 kilometres and the 175 kilometres of slopes and trails it shares with Val Gardena have plenty to keep intermediate and even beginning skiers busy. It’s known as one of the most family-friendly resorts in the Dolomites, featuring a ski kindergarten, ski school, kids’ fun parks, children’s tours, and state-of-the-art child-safety features on its mountain lifts. It also has some of the best snow parks for boarders, fitted with boxes, steps, and kickers. In the spring, expert ski-mountaineers await the best conditions to challenge the Sassopiatto, a plateau above the Alpe di Siusi that can only be skied when the snowpack is just right. Don’t even consider it without a local ski guide.