Perhaps it’s the sunny climate or the national temperament, but family ski holidays in Italy are quite different from those in the other Alpine nations. In general, the Italians are laid back, late to arrive on the slopes and big on lunch. Many of the top ski resorts in Italy are in the Val d’Aosta (where you’ll find Cervinia and Gressoney), the Olympic ‘Milky Way’ resorts (Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere) or in the exceptionally scenic Dolomites (with famous resorts such as Cortina d’Ampezzo and Selva-Gardena).
Most places to ski in Italy tend to be marketed as being on the “sunny side” of the Alps. Certainly it’s not uncommon, for example, to enter the Mont Blanc tunnel from an overcast Chamonix – or even when it’s actually snowing there! One reason why the Italians love to lunch is the quality of the food. The cuisine in the Dolomites in particular is a wonderful mix of Italian, Austrian and Ladin (a language based on a local dialect and Latin which dominates some of the local valleys). The Dolomites are also the location for the celebrated Sella Ronda – a leisurely all day circular tour taking in several resorts, including Selva, Corvara & Colfosco and four mountain passes.
Cervinia, linked across the Swiss border with Zermatt, has extensive high altitude slopes, wide and well-groomed. Cervinia’s Val d’Aosta neighbours Gressoney in the Monte Rosa ski area, combine to give extensive family-friendly Italian ski holidays with exciting heliskiing options for the more adventurous.
Those who have never encountered the Dolomites while skiing in Italy will be inspired by some of the most astonishing scenery in the Alps. These sheer and towering limestone peaks are so different in appearance that some people think of them as a completely different mountain range. At dawn and dusk, sunlight produces variety of shades of pink and flaming red as it glints on porphyry - a reddish-purple rock of large feldspar crystals embedded in the limestone. In some Dolomites valleys the Ladin culture is still very much alive, and the locals are determined to preserve this heritage through the language, local dress, old customs, songs and the local cuisine. Skiing round the truly impressive Sella massif is one of the great highlights of a skiing in the Dolomites. This panoramic 25-mile circuit includes more than 16 miles of skiing and takes you through four Ladin valleys. The tour can be comfortably completed in five or six hours, even by less experienced skiers.
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If you love to eat up the ski-miles, and want to do so on snow-sure slopes in simply glorious scenery, then you have come to the right place. You’d need to combine the 3 Valleys and Espace Killy in France, then throw in Austria’s huge Arlberg area too, to get anywhere close to the Dolomiti Superski’s staggering 1,200km of pistes!More information
Arabba is well known as a real skiers’ holiday base. It boasts excellent, challenging pistes and the stunning slopes of the mighty Marmolada glacier are within easy reach. The Hidden Valley is close by too.
Cortina is one of the most filmed, photographed, skied and visited resorts in the Italian Alps. Set to the east of the Sella Ronda circuit, it is called the 'Queen of the Dolomites' and is renowned for the excellent selection of skiing as well as superb accommodation, bars, restaurants and shopping.
Corvara's delightful villages nestled in the Alta Badia region of the Dolomites and have been enjoyed by British skiers for many years. Perfectly located on the Sella Ronda circuit they have easy access to the main slopes including connections to Arabba, Selva, Val di Fassa and the Marmolada glacier.More information
Kronplatz is part of the famous South Tyrol and the Dolomiti Superski area and is known for its modern ‘state-of-the-art’ lifts, guaranteed snow and breathtaking 360º views of the Dolomite Mountains.More information
La Villa is situated at the foot of the Sassongher Mountain linking to the Dolomites famous Sella Ronda ski circuit, and is one of the main ski villages in the region of Alta Badia - a UNESCO world heritage site.
Selva is ideally positioned amidst the largest interconnected ski area in Europe and the Sud Tyrol region of Italy. Set in the charming Gardena valley and hosting the famous Sella Ronda circuit area of skiing, the village combines the best of Italian and Austrian traditions for a unique ski holiday experience.
Ortisei (AKA St Ulrich), the truly picturesque old community and cultural centre of Val Gardena, can all too easily be overlooked by skiers based in Selva – especially those intent on ticking off as many resorts as they can on the celebrated Sella Ronda tour.More information
Canazei is situated at the head of the picturesque Fassa Valley. It enjoys an enviable position in the heart of the ‘Dolomiti Superski’ area, offering more than 1000km of scenic pistes.
The Milky Way is an international ski area linking Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx, Sansicario, Cesana and Claviere in Italy with Montgenèvre in France. Hosting the 2006 Winter Olympics here meant that the ski area was meticulously upgraded.More information
Superbly positioned at the heart of the Milky Way’s 400km of pistes, Sestriere is the highest and most snowsure resort in this area. The already extensive lift system was further improved for the 2006 Winter Olympics with new uphill capacity in Sestriere, Sauze and Sansicario.
Sauze d’Oulx has long been the British skiers favourite Milky Way resort. For the 2006 Olympics there was significant investment in the hotels, resort centre and the lifts. So access to the 400km ski area is now highly efficient.More information
Dominated by the mighty Matterhorn and surrounded by oustanding scenery, the compact village of Cervinia is one of the highest resorts in the Alps. The extensive ski area is served by an excellent lift system which connects Cervinia with Valtournenche as well as Zermatt in Switzerland.More information
La Thuile offers excellent skiing, good value for money and relatively few crowds. Linked to the French resort of La Rosière, the combined ski area has over 150 km of runs. The extensive and varied piste network is suitable for all standards of skier and has a great snow record.
The Monterosa ski area is renowned as one of the largest skiing areas in Italy, spread across the three valleys of Gressoney, Champoluc and Alagna. There is plenty to challenge boarders and skiers alike, with a great selection of high altitude skiing, some testing off-piste descents and the glacier area with spectacular scenery.More information