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
Of the resorts that make up the celebrated Sella Ronda circuit, Arabba has some of the most interesting slopes, and is a real skiers’ holiday base. It boasts excellent, challenging pistes, and the stunning slopes of the mighty Marmolada glacier are within easy reach.More information
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. Ideally located on the Sella Ronda circuit, they have easy access to the main slopes including connections to Arabba, Selva, Val di Fassa and the exhilarating 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, in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Italy, is situated at the foot of the Sassongher Mountain linking with the Dolomites’ famous Sella Ronda ski circuit. Located between Corvara and San Cassiano, it is one of the main ski villages in the region of Alta Badia - a UNESCO world heritage site.More information
Set in the Südtirol’s charming Gardena valley, Selva is a gateway to the famous Sella Ronda skiing circuit, where you can ski around the gigantic limestone monoliths of the Gruppa Sella. This delightful and not particularly challenging 31 mile tour can be achieved fairly easily in a day.
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.
The Val di Fassa stretches from Canazei and Campitello, with their spectacular views of the Passo Sella and Passo Pordoi to the mediaeval town of Moena, with skiing at Alpe di Lusia and Passo San Pellegrino.More information
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
Sestriere was built in 1930 by Giovanni Agnelli for the recreational pleasure of workers at his Fiat factory in Turin, but also to encourage a wider use of the motor-car in the immediate pre-war years.More information
Sauze d’Oulx is a genuine, traditional village rather than a creation of the tourist industry. Its rowdy, cheap-and-cheerful image has long since been shed, and it’s now a much more up-market resort - but without up-market prices.More information
Breuil-Cervinia (to give it its full name) has a huge ski area, including some excellent off-piste opportunities and one of the biggest cable cars in Italy. At almost 3,500 metres, the Plateau Rosa and Furggen are the starting points for numerous skiing adventures, on and off-piste, with a stunning background of peaks of more than 4,000 metres.More information
La Thuile offers excellent skiing, good value for money and relatively few crowds. Linked to the French resort of La Rosière, it’s a large ski area, with a single lift pass covering 74 runs totalling 150 kilometres of marked runs on both sides of the border.More information
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’s 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