Trentino may not be an instantly recognisable name to skiers, but some of the region’s resorts most certainly are, such as snow-sure Passo Tonale, stylish Madonna di Campiglio, the pretty mountain resort of Cavalese in Val di Fiemme and the stunningly beautiful San Martino di Castrozza.
The entire Trentino region boasts a multitude of ski areas grouped together in 15 separately identified areas (usually valleys), modern ski lifts and over 800 kilometres of piste, including the iconic route of the Sellaronda. Touched by Lake Garda at its southern end and towered over by the Dolomites in its highest reaches, Trentino is rich in natural beauty and easily accessible from a number of airports, Verona being the most convenient.
The big question in such a big region is where to go? There's a wide choice of resorts to suit any budget with accommodation ranging from family run bed and breakfasts, simple good value 1 and 2 star hotels right through to sparkling 5 star properties equipped with every facility you might need for the perfect skiing holiday including 'Wellness' centres.
Straddling the border between Trento and Brescia, Passo Tonale is a long strip atop its eponymous pass. Sitting at 1,900m - if not 100% snow sure - its pretty close, with a season that often stretches into May and glacier skiing in summer on the nearby Presena (3,000m). Sitting as it does in a natural amphitheatre, Tonale has an excellent sunshine record. The lifts extend from the resort up both sides of the valley giving access to 100km of piste (24% blue, 60% red and 16% black). Passo Tonale's appeal includes many 'ski-in, ski-out' hotels, the most sought after being on the north side of the valley where the majority of the lifts are located. Tonale is connected with the slopes of Ponte di Legno (on the same lift pass), over the border in Lombardy, bringing another dimension to the experience and a ski bus connects the two places, if needed. Tonale is also an excellent centre for cross country skiing and ski touring, and is the first place in Italy to have a Dog Sledding school!
Stylish is a word frequently used in connection with Italy, and Madonna di Campiglio, in the stunningly beautiful Brenta Dolomites, perfectly reflects that description. Italian at heart and in style, Campiglio has a name synonymous with the famous Canalone Miramonti run, a regular on the World Cup slalom circuit for more than 50 years. With no fewer than fourteen 4-star hotels, and a plethora of smart boutiques in the pedestrianised centre of the resort, backed up by a lively nightlife centred round trendy bars, the quality and range of the skiing is equal to the resort off mountain offering. There's 60km of piste (50% blue, 33% red, 16% black) in Campiglio's backyard and links with Folgarida-Marrileva extend this to 150km. For thrills of a different kind, try ice climbing on frozen waterfalls or maybe a spot of parapenting from Monte Spinone. The resort also appeals to snowboarders having been one of Italy's first resorts to embrace the discipline.
Val di Fassa is the collective name for a number of villages and ski resorts that together offer 220km of piste skiing amid the grandeur of the dramatic panorama of the beautiful Dolomites, crowned by the towering Marmolada at 3,342m. Well known ski resorts include Canazei, Campitello, Pozza di Fassa, and the gateway to the area - Moena. Each resort has its own character and style and there is a resort suitable for every taste, in terms of range of accommodation, entertainment and restaurant options, both on and off the mountain. The extensive lift network includes many access points to the mighty Dolomiti Superski area. Ski buses connect the different areas, so it is quite feasible to ski a different area every day, and everyone will want to do the Sellaronda tour, a 40km tour around the Sella Massif, lift served all the way!
Val di Fiemme
Val di Fiemme in the Eastern Dolomites is made up of five distinct ski areas - Ski Centre Latemar, Alpe Cermis, Bellamonte-Lusia, Passo Rolle and Passo Lavaze - which collectively offer 110km of piste (45% blue, 40% red, 20% black) including the 7km Olimpia run which drops and impressive 1,400m and is among the most famous pistes in the Alps. Away from downhill, the Lago di Tesoro cross-country centre is hosting the World Championship in 2013, as it has done twice previously, as well as being the venue for the annual Marcia Longa cross country race. Most guests choose to stay in Predazzo, at the foot of the Ski Centre Latemar system, or in Cavalese with its access to Alpe Cermis. There are an abundance of attractive 3-star Alpine style hotels in both places, and Cavalese also has a 4-star hotel. Of the two places, Cavalese - a pretty mountain town - is the better known, while Predazzo will appeal to guests seeking a quieter experience.
San Martino di Castrozza
Arguably, San Martino di Castrozza lies in the one of the most beautiful locations of any mountain resort. Behind the village is the Pale of San Martino, a group of jutting Dolomite peaks that take on an iridescent pink hue as the sun sinks into the night sky. This is reason enough to visit, but sitting in splendid isolation from the rest of the ski circuit, San Martino di Castrozza glories in its traditional Trentino characteristics, backed up 60km of piste (40% blue, 30% red, 30% black). There are two distinct areas on the San Martino di Castrozza lift pass - Alpe Tognola with access from the village and Passo Rolle which is a short bus journey from the resort. A free ski bus which links the various points and for a bit of fun in the evening try the floodlit Verde piste.
Val di Sole
Val di Sole in the Brenta Dolomites includes two resorts, Marilleva and Folgarida. Unusually, visitors can arrive at Marilleva 900 by train, with a connection from Trento, and on arrival make their way up to Marilleva 1400, the quieter and smaller of the two Val di Sole resorts. Folgarida is the livelier of the two, with a good range of hotels, restaurants and bars. The Val di Sole ski area comprises 53km of piste (60% blue, 28% red, 12% black), although it links up with Madonna di Campiglio, doubling the amount of skiable terrain.
Folgaria, Lavarone and Luserna
Lying south of Trento, and not far from the northern end of Lake Garda, the showpiece of this area is the 'Skitour of the Forts' - an 83km circuit between Folgaria, Lavarone and Fiorenti, connected by a number of World War 1 forts, built by Italy to defend its borders. More conventionally, the resorts share 83km of piste (30% blue, 60% red and 10% black). Folgaria is the biggest resort, with a good choice of hotels, restaurants and bars plus an excellent ice stadium for ice skating and watching ice hockey. It seems like every base area has its own cluster of hotels and restaurants, making the choice of the lunchtime stop a welcome problem. A free ski bus operates between Folgaria and Lavarone with intermediate stops. Off the beaten track compared to the resorts further north, nonetheless Folgaria is an excellent choice for a family skiing holiday, and with Lake Garda nearby, a day away from the slopes is a must!
Getting to Trentino
There are several airports within reach of Trentino, with Verona being the closest. Transfers to Trentino can be booked from Verona, Bergamo and Venice airports. The cost of the transfer for each adult is about €30 each way.
For further information visit www.trentinoviaggi.net