It was the Turin Olympics in 2006 which really brought this area into focus, although Sauze d'Oulx, just an hour from Turin, and right at the beginning of the “Via Lattea” resort complex, had for some time been a fixture for British skiers. Hosting the Olympics meant the ski area was significantly upgraded, with major improvements in snowmaking facilities underpinning an already reliable snow record, and several new high-speed lifts were constructed to streamline circulation around the area.
There are wonderful long runs and really impressive views from the slopes on Mount Motta at 2823m, with wide open spaces above the tree-line as well as picturesque wooded runs below. The long chain of linked resorts, with 400km of pistes, gives skiers and boarders a wonderful opportunity to travel from resort to resort, ending up crossing the border with France and skiing into Montgenèvre (a return trip that takes all day – but it’s a great feeling of satisfaction to ski into another country!).
En route you’ll pass through the Olympic hub of Sestriere-Cesana-Sansicario (which hosted all the Alpine events) – which you’ll no doubt want to explore before moving on to Claviere and into the French end of the system. Sestriere is arguably Europe’s first purpose-built resort – it was developed specifically for winter sports by Fiat’s Giovanni Agnelli in the 1930s. There’s a lot of skiing to explore in the vicinity, but if you’re continuing towards Montgenèvre, unless you are determined to have lunch in France, try stopping at Claviere just before you cross the border. It’s cheaper than France and worth the visit just for the "Bombardinos" (coffee with brandy and advocaat). Sestriere, at 2035m, is the highest resort in the Milky Way set-up. Sauze d'Oulx, with its charmingly rustic old mountain village centre, has a good variety of slopes, some attractively gladed, and an equally eclectic choice of pubs, bars and restaurants: the après-ski here is not dull!