Italy is a very mountainous country and so it will come as no surprise that it offers some of the best skiing in the world. The most famous ski resorts are in Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige, and its here to the Italian Alps and Dolomites that most skiers make their way. Skiing is available across virtually the entire northern border of Italy and visitors can find a wide range of different styles from five star, international resorts, boasting state-of-the-art snow making, wifi and piste grooming, to smaller, local resorts, boasting their own unique brand of Italian charm. In contrast to some other European skiing destinations, Italian skiing is relaxed, well priced and comfortable.
Some resorts can be busy at the weekends, as the local enthusiasts from Milan and Turin take advantage of the nearby slopes, but the buzz of the weekends give way to quiet, empty pistes during the week. Another advantage is the quality of snow on the southern slopes of the Alps. Snow conditions in Italy are highly variable and vary from the northern alps. This rarely affects the modern resorts which have excellent snowmaking facilities and can lead to Italian pistes enjoying huge powder downfalls which are brought up from the south, rather than from the colder northerly wind experienced by the Northern European resorts.
Aosta Valley has the highest altitude of all Italy's ski areas, backing onto Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) at the French border. It is the most popular region in Italy with British skiers, who arrive from France by road through the Mont Blanc tunnel or by air to Turin Airport.
Once in Aosta, they can enjoy the 700 kilometres of pistes served by 28 resorts. The area also offers nearly 400 kilometres of cross country skiing, most of which is signed and well maintained. Aosta is as well known for its food and local culture as it is for its skiing and offers better value for money than many of the neighbouring French resorts. The best known of the resorts here include: Courmayeur, Monterosa, La Thuilie, Chamois, Pila and Cervinia.
Resorts like La Thuile also offer heliskiing on both sides of the Italian - French border. Although it is legal to heliski in France, it is illegal to take off from French soil; a contradiction that several resorts in Aosta take full advantage of!
The Dolomite mountains extend from the River Adige in the West to the eastern Piave Valley, just 20km North of Venice. The highest peak, Marmolada, at 3,343 metres, is lower than those in the Alps but the Dolomiti Superski area is the largest in the world and is set in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
There are 1,220 kilometres of marked piste, served by 450 ski lifts. The best known of the resorts here include: Kronplatz, Cortina and Selva.
Lombardy is the most populated and wealthiest region of Italy. It lies between Aosta Valley and the Dolomites and backs onto Switzerland's southern Alps. It has a wide range of ski resorts of different styles that provide a varied choice of good value skiing. The proximity to Switzerland has a number of benefits, including day drips to Swiss resorts like St. Moritz encouraged by special lift pass deals.
Bormio, one of the famous resorts of the regions, has frequently hosted the Alpine Ski World Championships and Livigno, a duty and tax free haven on the Swiss border, is home to a large, popular ski resort with rolling pistes at excellent value for money. The best known of the resorts here include: Mottolino, Santa Caterina, Carosello 3000, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Livigno and Bormio.
ski facilities can also be found in Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Marche, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, Umbria and Veneto.