Australian snow sports enthusiasts can finally stop fantasising about picturesque Alpine villages and the inviting slopes of Italy’s majestic mountains. The strong Aussie dollar and ever-easier air access options are turning armchair daydreams into flight-booking realities … and no one is coming home disappointed.
For the Aussie skier or snowboarder, it’s not just the legendary slopes and snow parks that make the Italian Alps such a fairytale destination. It’s also the architecturally-inspiring historic villages, the magnificent local cuisine and wines … and the lure of muscle-reviving hot spas...
Australian snow sports enthusiasts can finally stop fantasising about picturesque Alpine villages and the inviting slopes of Italy’s majestic mountains. The strong Aussie dollar and ever easier air access options are turning armchair daydreams into flight-booking realities … and no one is coming home disappointed.
For the Aussie skier or snowboarder, it’s not just the legendary slopes and snow parks that make the Italian Alps such a fairytale destination. It’s also the architecturally inspiring historic villages, magnificent local cuisine and wines … and the lure of muscle-reviving hot spas.
Alta Valtellina in northern Italy’s Lombardy region delivers all this and more. Whether you are into alpine skiing, cross-country, telemark, snowboarding or freeskiing - the magnificent Valtellina valley, stretching to the glaciers of the Ortles-Cevedale mountain range, is not to be missed. Between them, the region’s top ski villages – Bormio, Livigno, and Santa Caterina Valfurva offers 200km of perfect runs serviced by nearly 70 ski lifts.
Bormio is the home of the iconic Stelvio slope, one of the most spectacular and technically difficult courses on the world cup downhill circuit, which, over 3100 breathtaking metres, delivers fast turns, challenging jumps and outrageous speeds. If you’re not quite ready for that sort of adrenaline-rush, don’t despair … there’s something in Bormio’s 50km of trails to excite all skill levels.
While the mountains will always be the star attraction, Australian visitors will also wowed by picture-perfect Bormio itself. The village’s pedestrianised heart is packed with shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s a great place to sample Alta Vatellina food specialties such as pizzoccheri and sciatt, cheeses such as Bitto and Casera and some superb local wines.
Just out of town lies Bormio’s famed thermal baths. The swimming pools, sweating caves, saunas, mud baths and Roman baths of Bagni Vecchi (Old Baths) will soon have you revived, recharged and raring to hit the slopes again. The outdoor tubs, swimming pools and thermal trails of the Bagni Nuovi (New Baths) offer a similarly rejuvenating experience. This region boasts five of Italy’s best snow parks, including the renowned Mottolino in Livigno. The park’s super pipe, half pipe, boardercross track, rails, boxes and jibbing area make it a Mecca for snowboarders and freeskiers alike.
Livigno, with its traditional wood and stone houses, sits between two mountain ranges and is known for its duty-free shopping. Everything from perfume, alcohol and cigarettes to electronics, clothing and ski gear are available at bargain prices. This is also après ski central. As soon as the ski lifts stop for the day, the numerous bars at the foot of every mountain spring into life. It’s all a little bit more peaceful at the picturesque ski village of Santa Caterina Valfurva.
As well as skiing and snowboarding, the surrounding 40km of tracks are popular for winter walking with the ‘ciaspole’ snowshoe. There really is something for everybody in the region. While the Medieval magic and white-hot slopes of Alta Valtellina may seem a world away from Australia, one-stop flights to Milan, Zurich and Munich – and easy transfers from there – make it anything but. This is a fairytale that can come true.
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