From the dramatic Dolomites to the awe-inspiring Alps, Italy boasts some of the best ski fields in Europe. Dozens of peaks up to over 3,000 metres protrude from its high-altitude northern fringe, where buckets of fresh powder snow are the daily norm.

    Oddly enough, Italy’s alpine potential remains mostly untapped – its blazing downhill descents and leisurely cruisers rarely feel overrun. And that’s not because it’s too expensive, as Italy’s unpretentious ski scene costs a fraction of the likes of Austria, Switzerland, or France. To experience the snow-capped magic for yourself, check out our pick of the best ski resorts in Italy.


    Val Gardena, Dolomites

    A paradise for long-distance cruisers

    Val Gardena comprises 3 charming ski villages – Ortisei, Santa Cristina, and Selva – creating an unassuming ensemble that hosts the Dolomites’ best long-distance runs. Although there are beginner-friendly options on offer, experienced skiers will get the most out of Val Gardena, especially the hair-raising Saslong World Cup Downhill Trail.

    Val Gardena is also a haven for skiers after cruisy long-distance runs, with 160 km of interconnecting trails cutting through the breathtaking mountain terrain. The crowd favourite is the world-famous 24-km Sella Ronda route, which tears through 4 gorgeous valleys beneath the beautiful Sella Massif.

    The après-ski scene here is more about gastronomy, with long lunches taking preference over boozy bars.

    Location: 39040 Kastelruth, South Tyrol, Italy


    Madonna di Campiglio, Dolomites

    A chic resort that’s exceptionally well-groomed

    Madonna di Campiglio is where glamorous alpinists come to see and be seen – it’s better known for its après-ski scene than its on-piste action. Boisterous bars, bopping clubs, chic boutiques, and sumptuous spas provide ample after-dark entertainment, although there’s enough night skiing to rival the nightlife as well.

    Several of Madonna’s 58 ski lifts depart from the centre of the village, linking to almost 300 thrilling pistes to challenge skiers of every level. The main routes are exceptionally well-maintained; many consider the resort to have the best-groomed trails in Italy. Experts could try their hand at the death-defying Dolomitica, whose 70-degree gradient is no easy feat. Freestylers, on the other hand, will prefer pulling tricks at the Ursus Snow Park.

    Location: 38086 Province of Trento, Italy


    Cortina d'Ampezzo, Dolomites

    Stunning scenery and an upmarket vibe

    Cortina is popular among cashed-up jet setters since it hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1956. And while this glitzy megaresort is decidedly upmarket, it’s the breathtaking alpine backdrops that reel in the punters. It’s called the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’ for its immense natural beauty, and the brightest jewel in her crown is the UNESCO-listed Cinque Torri. This string of 5 gravity-defying peaks presides over the park and looks spectacular from every angle, especially at sunset.

    Cortina is one of the Dolomites’ best options for beginners, most of whom congregate around the gentle slopes of Socrapes and Pomedes. There’s a small selection of advanced runs as well. There are 3 dozen chairlifts that whisk skiers around the resort.

    Location: 32043 Province of Belluno, Italy


    Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites

    Child-friendly skiing in the Dolomites

    Alpe di Siusi offers families a great fun-filled skiing holiday in the Dolomites. Among the resort’s kid-friendly facilities are a ski school, a ski kindergarten, ski tours for kids, a mini children’s theme park, and specialised child safety mechanisms on the chairlifts. These amenities ensure parents can get on with their own alpine adventures without having to worry about the little ones. 

    All 60 km of trails in Alpe di Siusi are beautifully groomed and serviced by snowmaking equipment, ensuring favourable conditions from December through March. Snowboarders are particularly fond of the terrain parks, which feature steps, boxes, and kickers to hone their freestyle skills.

    Location: 39048 Sëlva, South Tyrol, Italy


    Courmayeur, Alps

    A glamorous resort with magnificent Mont Blanc views

    Courmayeur is a lively ski and spa haven that’s also a popular weekend playground for Milan’s well-to-do. It’s undoubtedly upmarket. Italy’s most beautiful people frequent its chic restaurants and bars, yet none can compare to the ravishing views of Europe’s highest peak: Mont Blanc.

    If conditions are good, off-piste adventurers can head up the Funivie Monte Bianco Cable Car to join a guided tour through Europe’s finest unmarked trails. If not, going to the Mont Blanc ridge is worth it for the views alone. Another superb expert option is Vallee Blanche on the French side of the border, a 20-km trail that descends 2,700 metres of fresh powder snow.

    Location: 11013 Aosta Valley, Italy


    Livigno, Alps

    An uncrowded duty-free zone with superb snow

    Tucked away in a secluded spot near the Swiss border, Livigno’s inaccessibility enhances its undiscovered vibe. The terrain parks of the Mottolino region are its major drawcard, where over 60 obstacles challenge skiers of all levels: intermediate freestylers will love launching themselves over a decommissioned fighter jet, while the pros can safely practice their backflips onto an airbag. But it’s not all about tricks because Livigno’s got outstanding off-piste trails as well, many of which are perfect for heli-skiing.

    The village itself maintains a laidback vibe: culinary options are unpretentious and duty-free boutique shopping is affordable. If you get bored, there are plenty of ski lifts to whisk you back uphill again.

    Location: 23030 Province of Sondrio, Italy


    Bormio, Alps

    Alpine charm and ample intermediate action

    Bormio is a quaint little alpine town that’s brimming with traditional Italian charm. Jaw-dropping views of surrounding Alps complement the old-world piazzas and Romanesque chapels, while steamy day spas will soothe even the most overstressed tendons.

    Of course, it’s the ski-fields that everyone comes to see, and Bormio is a paradise for the intermediate alpinist. The crème of the crop is the 1,787-metre vertical drop of the summit-to-base run, the largest of its kind in all of Italy. Beginner to intermediate trails abound on the slopes of Cima Bianca in Vallecetta, while experts could hit the World Cup runs of the Stelvio Piste.

    Location: 23032 Province of Sondrio, Italy


    Sestriere, Alps

    Discover high-altitude history

    One for the history buff, Fiat’s Giovanni Agnelli founded Sestriere in the 1930s as Europe’s first purpose-built ski resort. These days, the upmarket option is the highest in the Milky Way chain, affording it access to an epic 400-km network of lift-linked trails.

    Unsurprisingly, its elevated altitude makes it a hit among powder chasers who come to relish in some of the region’s best fresh snow. Blue and red runs tear down Banchetta Mountain for intermediates, while the pros would be mad to miss the Kandahar Banchetta Olympic course. Despite its enviable location, Sestriere is chilled until the weekend when half of Turin comes out to play.

    Location: Via la Gleisa, 18, 10058 Sestriere TO, Italy


    Monterosa, Alps

    Enjoy near-limitless variety

    Monterosa is one of the world’s biggest ski resorts that offers something for everyone. Its 3 chic villages – Alagna, Champoluc, and Gressoney – reside in a pretty valley with an abundance of runs to explore.

    Keen skiers can catch a string of cable cars in Alagna all the way up to Col d'Olen. From these lofty heights, a series of challenging off-piste trails descend 1,759 metres through the Punta Indren glacier – one of the best lift-served verticals on Earth. Beginners mostly stick to Champoluc and Gressoney, while intermediate skiers will feel spoilt for choice wherever they go. Regardless of where you chose, you’ll be sure to soak up sensational views of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa.

    Location: Route Ramey, 69, 11020 Champoluc AO, Italy


    Cervinia, Alps

    A cheaper alternative to Zermatt

    Not far from the pricey Swiss ski resort of Zermatt, Cervinia offers an affordable alternative with the same phenomenal Matterhorn views. And while the village might not be as beautiful as its ultra-glam neighbour, its pub-based après-ski action is a sure-fire hit. The celebrations peaks at happy hour when revellers ski in a pack between the liveliest spots.

    Despite residing amid rugged terrain in Europe’s highest on-piste area, Cervinia is more about extended picturesque cruisers than steep descents. Intermediate skiers adore Ventina, which is an immaculately groomed 8-km valley run. Beginners have several options to choose from and can hone their techniques with some good-value lessons.

    Location: Frazione Breuil Cervinia, 11028 Breuil-Cervinia AO, Italy

    Harry Stewart | Contributing Writer

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