Thursday, December 3, 2009

A guide to snowboarding in Italy

Italy is a great place to snowboard and one of the cheapest European countries to visit. Resorts stretch across the northern part of the country, with many linking with neighbouring countries and if you're planning to drive in Italy, remember: they can't drive. The term 'giving way' doesn't really exist!
The most popular destinations
The majority of Italy's resorts are situated in the north of the country, in the Alps. The ten most popular are; Cervinia, Livigno, Alba, Passo Tonale, Prali Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx, Val Gardena, Courmayeur and Madonna di Campiglio.
Getting around
Due to the fact that Italy has loads of small, remote resorts tucked away off normal public transport routes, driving is the best way to reach them. Italian resorts are not always well located for airports as most places require an average of three hours transfer. Train services are not too convenient - but are cheap - and you can get fairly close to many places. Bus fares are also inexpensive but services are not very reliable.
Madonna di Campiglio
Madonna di Campiglio is generally considered to be one of the best resorts in Italy for snowboarders. The Ursus terrain park here is a rallying point for boarders across the surrounding region of Trentino and set at 2,400m, on rolling ex-glacial terrain, it is home to good-quality snow for most of the season, and features a wide range of kickers, rails and other features. Boarders will be pleased to know that snowfall here is higher than in the Dolomite resorts further east, and the climate is colder than in the Italian resorts to the west. The resort sits in something of a snow pocket.
Courmayeur
Superb off-piste boarding. But remember, this is the sunny - and therefore less snowy - side of Mont Blanc. There are some fantastic off-piste routes in the area. This is a place for more accomplished riders so bear in mind that there is often a lot less snow on this side of Mont Blanc than there is in Chamonix. Intermediates should only consider Courmayeur for a weekend, while beginners should go to more snowboard-friendly resort.
Where to stay
On the whole, accommodation is basic and cheap. It is fair to say that around resorts facilities are not as full-on as in France but the hedonistic apr├ęs ski is still the same. For a great snowboarding holiday, Italy is well worth a visit.

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