Today is the first day of spring, so it might seem strange to be talking about skiing, but the ski season goes on until mid-April and sometimes even summer in certain resorts. And let’s face it, the ski industry had a difficult season in Italy. First, they were closed for months due to Covid. Then, they were scheduled to open – everybody was excited, families booked trips and everyone was ready to go until the government announced they had to stay closed the day before they were set to open. Not cool. So for the moment, Italian resorts are still closed even though there is at least another month left of the season.
But when this is all over and if you happen to find yourself in Milan during the winter, give some thought to visiting one of these resorts. Sure Milan is more known for fashion and finance and it is usually not associated with winter sports, but it is strategically positioned for visiting some of Europe’s best ski areas. In just three hours, you can hit the super-chic resorts of Switzerland and the Olympic-worthy slopes of France and Italy.
Most people know the Matterhorn in Switzerland, but part of that mountain is also in Italy, and it is called Cervino. The ski town is called Breuil-Cervinia, sometimes just referred to as Cervinia – so it gets confusing.
The appeal of Cervinia is the amount of annual snowfall, and with a top altitude of 3,500 meters (11,482 feet), snow is a sure thing. In fact, summer skiing is an option in the valley of Plateau Rosà on the Swiss side but accessed from the Italian side. Summer ski is available for all levels and every kind of alpine skiing can be found here from slalom to SuperG.
Ice Cart Driving: www.fulldrivingexperience.com
Known for: snow sure
Stats: 21 lifts, 46 runs
Average cost for ski lift, one day, adultt: 48 Euro
Season: November – July
Milan to Cervinia: 2.30 hours
Chamonix, aka “the death-sport capital of the world” is located at the foot of Mont Blanc and was the site of the first winter Olympics in 1924. It got that nickname because it has long been associated with adventurous winter sports including freeriding, paragliding, and ice climbing. But don’t worry if you are a newbie, there are plenty of bunny slopes in the valley.
The town itself has a vibrant pedestrian area flanked by Victorian-style buildings and has many quaint shops, cafes and restaurants.
Aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi has terraces offering 360° views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps at a height of 3,842 meters (12,604 feet) and can be accessed by cable car. The terrace is amazing, but for a real thrill make sure to “Step into the Void” which is the actual name of a glass cube jutting out into the snowy nothingness with 360° views just like the terrace, but with the added bonus of another direction: straight down.
A warm swimming pool surrounded by snow and the Alps? Yes, please. After days of skiing, rest those weary bones the QC Terme. This spa has pools, relax rooms, saunas, steam rooms and all kinds of other fun self-care facilities. It is right in the middle of town. www.qcterme.com
Known for: adventure sports
Stats: 49 lifts, 80 runs
Season: December – May
Average cost for ski lift: one day, adult: 55 Euro
Milan to Chamonix: 2.45 hours by car
St. Moritz, Switzerland
This glamorous Swiss town has a population of only 5,000 but welcomes more than half a million visitors each year – most of whom are doing just fine in the income department. St. Moritz hosted the 1928 and 1948 Olympics and was the location of the opening scene of the James Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me.” St. Moritz is clearly the winter playground for the mega-rich, but it is also a great resort for serious skiers – even in the middle of the night! Yes, check out Switzerland’s longest illuminated ski run, Corvatsch Snow Night (4.2 km, 2.6 miles) every Friday at 2 am for a moonlit ski.
Take the funicular from St. Moritz Dorf with arrival at Corniglia for sweeping views of the mountains. From Corviglia, take the cabin cable car ride up to Piz Nair to arrive at an elevation of 3,057 meters (10,029 feet)
Ovaverva Thermal Spa
Before St. Moritz was a ski resort, it was known for its thermal springs. Ovaverva has heated indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, saunas, relaxation rooms, steam baths, salt relaxation rooms and more. www.ovaverva.ch
Snow Polo World Cup
If you happen to be in St. Moritz the last week of January, make sure to check out the exclusive annual Snow Polo World Cup that takes place on the frozen lake. www.snowpolo-stmoritz.com
Eat and Drink
If you choose to eat and drink instead of a late-night ski, check out the extensive whisky bar, Devil’s Place inside the Hotel Waldhaus with over 2,500 kinds of whisky. In keeping with the sinister theme, to hear live music head on over to elusive Club Dracula – a hip jazz and supper club. www.dracs.ch
Known for: glitz and glam
Stats: 42 lifts, 88 runs
Average cost for ski lift: one day, adultt: Swiss Francs 72
Milan to St. Moritz: 2.45 hours
Bormio is a great choice for intermediate skiers and is known for the longest uninterrupted drop in Italy.
There are two ski areas – the local peak, Cima Bianca, easily accessible from the southern part of town, and another area, San Colombano, on the outskirts of town.
If you are not a skier, check out Stelvio National Park for snowshoeing options. It is one of the largest natural reserves in Europe and where snow-capped mountains exceed 3,000 meters (9,842 feet).
But Bormio is known not only for skiing but also for its healing, therapeutic waters. These thermal baths have been in use for thousands of years and even Leonardo da Vinci took a dip in these hot springs.
QC Bagni Vecchi
“Take a dive into history over two thousand years old, from Roman Baths located at caves centuries-old that lead to one of the ancient water sources, to the Panoramic pool overlooking the Bormio valley.” This place is definitely unique relative to other, more modern facilities – who can deny the wonderful sensation of relaxing in the same place that Roman soldiers used to unwind? www.qcterme.com
QC Bagni Nuovi
Wellness, wellness and more wellness! This spa it sitting pretty right in the Stelvio National Park. It is the largest spa in the Alps that includes seven outdoor pools and 30 spa services. It is probably best to dedicate a whole day to this place. So skip ski and relax instead. www.qcterme.com
Bormio Terme Spa
This is the public spa and is much more affordable, but not ask fancy as the two above. It is more suitable for families. They have warm pools, saunas, steam rooms and other facilities, but also have water slides for the kids. www.bormioterme.it
Known for: ski and spa
Stats: 24 lifts, 18 runs
Season: December – April
Average cost for ski lift: one day, adultt: 44 Euro
Milan to Bormio: 2.55 hours
The Via Lattea (Milky Way) straddles the French-Italian border and was the site of the 2006 Olympic. It is only a three-hour drive from Milan. There are five Italian resorts here; Sestriere, Sansicario, Pragelato, Sauze d´Oulx, Claviere and Pragelato and one French; Montgenèvre. Interconnected slopes let you easily check out the other resorts and some of them even take you across the border between Italy and France. So indulge! Croissants for breakfast and pizza for dinner!
Known for: ski without boundaries
Stats: 71 lifts, 18 runs
Season: November – April
Average cost for ski lift: one day, adultt: 38 Euro
Milan to Bormio: 2.45 hour