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
There’s only one ! The Olympic resort of Cortina D’Ampezzo is one of the most filmed, photographed, skied and visited resorts in the Italian Alps. Located east of the Sella Ronda circuit, it’s not called the 'Queen of the Dolomites' for nothing.More information
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 Gruppo 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.
San Cassiano is a delightful village on the magnificent Dolomiti Superski area, well positioned between La Villa and Cortina, and close to Armentarola, with its famous horse-drawn ski-lift!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
Superbly positioned at the heart of the Milky Way's 400km of pistes is the highest and most snow-sure resort in this area. Purpose built in the 1930's the town has a modern and trendy feel.
Sauze d'Oulx has long been the British skier's favourite Milky Way resort. In recent years there has been significant investment in the hotels, resort centre and the lifts making access to the 400km ski area highly efficient. As well as excellent skiing, the old mountain village has been attractively restored for the needs of the modern visitor. It is known for lively après-ski and has a host of pubs, cocktail bars and reasonably-priced restaurants and pizzerias.More information
Champoluc is a delightfully unspoilt village on the extensive and snow-sure Monterosa ski area, one of the largest skiiing areas in Italy. Made up of three separate valleys, which includes Gressoney and Alagna, are accessible all on one lift pass.
Dominated by the mighty Matterhorn and surrounded by outstanding scenery, the compact village of Cervinia is one of the highest resorts in the Alps. The extensive ski area is served by an impressive lift system which connects Cervinia with Valtournenche as well as Zermatt in Switzerland. The village offers a good selection of shops, bars, nightclubs, pizzerias and restaurants.More information