We all have our preferences when it comes to going on ski holidays. Some of us love Austria, some of us love France, but there are some skiers and snowboarders who are convinced that Italy is where it's at. Our colleague Miranda loves skiing in Italy so much she's spent several winters there, and she's here to tell us why the land of sunny slopes, pizza and fine wine is her country of choice for ski holidays. Welcome to la dolce vita!
Ask pretty much anybody what the best food in the world is and they'll say Italian. Even the simplest pasta dish somehow takes on epic proportions, to the point where you find yourself licking your fingers when nobody is looking! And don't even get me started on the pizzas - even on the slopes, you can often find brick-oven pizzerias. Aside from the typical Italian dishes you also have to try the regional specialties such as canederli and strangolapreti. Good thing you'll be skiing all week to burn off the calories!
The sun shines more in the southern Alps, and this can make a huge difference to your ski holiday, especially if you're a fair-weather skier. Who doesn't prefer carving in the brilliant sunshine instead of squinting through the fog? Plus, of course, a hot, sunny day is the perfect excuse to take a quick break and enjoy a drink in a sun lounger. Does life get any better?
Other countries have a tendency to do a hasty job of grooming the ski pistes, leaving jagged lines and sometimes even lumps of ice on the slopes. In Italy, the piste basher drivers truly go above and beyond the call of duty, crafting immaculately groomed slopes as far as the eye can see. They also lean in a little firmer, the result being that you're less likely to be skiing on sheets of ice by the end of the day.
It's not for nothing that the profession of ski instructor is highly respected in Italy. Before you can call yourself a "Maestro di sci" and set foot anywhere near the lessons, you must undergo a rigorous training programme that takes at least 2 years in total. Compare this to other countries, where you can often start teaching after a quick 10-day course, and you'll see why you're virtually guaranteed an excellent ski instructor in Italy - with a charming accent to boot!
Ok, that's a contentious one, because mountains are always pretty. But there are mountains and mountains - I'm thinking about not only the imposing rock formations of the Dolomites, but also the lofty summits of Monte Rosa and Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc). Skiing with a view of these mountains is just absolutely sublime.
Hearing about all the sunny slopes in Italy might have left you worried about the snow cover, but amazingly, you don't have to worry: Italy's not suffering in this regard! Some years the southern Alps have even been known to get more snow than the northern Alps. And for the times when that's not the case, there's always artificial snow. In fact, the idea for the first snow cannon dates back to 1983 in Italy's South Tyrol, and the Italians are masters of artificial snow to this day. Most ski areas in Italy have no trouble guaranteeing snow cover.
Italy definitely wins hands-down over France and even Austria from a budget point of view. Lunch on the slopes will set you back around 5 quid, and a decent cut of meat around double that. Even the accommodation is generally much more affordable than in the neighbouring alpine countries (cough, Switzerland).
You heard right: Italian schools don't do school holidays in February or March! Instead, you'll find busy slopes between Christmas and the first week of January. But this means that during February half-term you can get the slopes to yourself if you're lucky, especially if you visit one of the lesser-known resorts.
An Italian always expects to be served the best wine and this means you can find top-quality wines even on the mountains. Unlike France, you won't have to pay an arm and a leg for it, either. Try a well-deserved Lagrein or Marzemino at the end of a long day on the slopes. Saluti!
Perhaps you've heard of Italy's most famous après-ski drink: the Bombardino, which means "little bomb" in Italian. Similar to eggnog, this high-calorie cocktail is made with half Advocaat egg liqueur and half brandy, and topped with whipped cream. Variations include coffee, rum and whisky. A hot cup of this and you'll be buzzing to go out on the slopes again!
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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