Skiing in Italy on the sunny side of the Alps has much to recommend it: magnificent mountain scenery, uncrowded pistes, good food, excellent mountain restaurants, reasonable prices and a warm affectionate welcome that's extended to all skiers, from pensioners to bambinos.
Italy is an ideal choice for a family ski holiday: everyone you meet, whether they work for a hotel, ski school or a ski rental shop, seems to genuinely like small children. And the apres-ski in the resorts tends to be less raucous. There are plenty of cosy restaurants and bars, and a few good nightclubs hidden away, but anyone drunkenly dancing on tables in ski boots will be politely directed to Austria.
Although many of Italy’s ski resorts have strong cultural links to the bordering alpine countries, they all have a very Italian atmosphere as well. A good ski area is regarded as just one of the ingredients required for a successful winter holiday, alongside picturesque villages, buzzing bars, cobbled streets, stylishly dressed locals, leisurely lunches, scenic views, strong coffee, good value restaurants, delicious hot chocolate and constant chatter. How much you embrace this dolce vita vibe is up to you: keen skiers can cover much more ground in Italy because there are rarely queues for lifts first thing in the morning, and during the middle of the day when the restaurants are packed, the slopes are usually empty. The off-piste powder tends to stay untracked for longer too, and freeride enthusiasts can go heli-skiing, as it’s allowed here unlike in France, and available for prices you would never find in Switzerland.
The Italian Alps tend to get more sunshine and less snow than their neighbours to the North and West. Thin seasons, however, usually coincide with low temperatures, and the Italian resorts are among the best in the world when it comes to artificial snow-making. In the Dolomites, you can ski almost endless pistes in the middle of winter, regardless of whether there has been any natural snowfall for weeks or even months,
So Italian skiing has a lot going for it, and here are some of the very best resorts in which to experience it: