Via Lattea (Milky Way) Ski Resorts

The Via Lattea (Milky Way) links the Italian ski resorts of Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere, Claviere, Sansicario, Cesana and Pragelato with Montgenevre in France. The lift connections aren't perfect but it's one of Europe's more affordable large, high altitude ski areas.

The international Via Lattea ("Milky Way") ski area links five resorts in the Piedmont region of Italy - Claviere (1760m), Pragelato (1518m), Sansicario (1700m), Sauze d'Oulx (1509m) and Sestriere (2035m) - with Montgenevre (1850m) in the Hautes-Alpes department of France. 

It is a sizeable area: the claimed figure of 400km of piste might be a generous calculation as that would make it a third larger than the combined Val D'Isere-Tignes 'Espace Killy' area which is difficult to believe, but there are still over 70 ski lifts and 200 pistes (including all the different variants), which makes it big enough for most skiers for a week. It's also quite high, with pistes descending from 2800m to 1350m, and all the main villages are sited above 1500m. Although the skiing is mostly aimed at intermediates, there are some challenges for experts, and decent nursery slopes for beginners. There's also a good variety of places to stay: the main villages are all very different to one another, with accommodation to suit all budgets, and nightlife to suit all tastes, especially in Sauze D'Oulx, where bars aimed at young British visitors share streets with upmarket restaurants catering for wealthy weekenders from Turin. (The other resorts are much quieter.)

All the villages are connected to the ski area by lift, but some of the lifts are long and slow, so whilst you can get from Montgenevre to Sauze D'Oulx, Sestriere and Pragelato on skis, it's not a journey you want to do every day. So choose your base carefully, and be prepared to use the buses instead. Or come by car, and enjoy a day trip to neighbouring ski areas like Serre Chevalier and Bardonecchia.

In a normal year, the Italian Milky Way resorts don't receive a lot of natural snow. But usually their mountains are sufficiently high with enough North-facing slopes and artificial snow-making equipment to keep most of their pistes skiable from Christmas through to Easter. Sestriere often has both the best piste conditions (on Monte Motta) and the worst (at the bottom of Monte Fraiteve). If you want fresh powder, however, go to Montgenevre: it's much more snowy and its off-piste is well worth exploring.

Via Lattea Pros & Cons

+ Large, high mountain ski area

+ Mix of tree lined runs and open bowls

+ Good value

+ Interesting off-piste in Montgenevre

+ Italian resorts are easy to reach from Turin


- Italian resorts can have patchy snow

- Few challenging pistes

- Too many old slow lifts

Via Lattea Rating

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  • Ski Lift System star rating
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  • Scenery star rating
  • Resort Charm star rating
  • Apres Ski star rating
  • Non-Skiers star rating
  • Getting There star rating

5 Day Snow & Weather Forecast

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