Via Lattea

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 six resorts in the Piedmont region of Italy – Claviere (1760m), Pragelato (1518m), Sansicario / San Sicario (1700m), Sauze d’Oulx (1509m), Sestriere (2035m) and Cesana Torinese (1354m) – with Montgenevre (1850m) in the Hautes-Alpes department of France.  Regardless of whether you’re staying on the Italian or French side of the border, the nearest airport is Turin and transfers to the resorts are relatively short – around 90 minutes on average.

The Milky Way is a sizeable ski area: the claimed figure of 400km of piste might be a generous calculation as that would make it a third larger than the combined area for Val d’Isere and Tignes which is difficult to believe, but there are still over 70 ski lifts and 200 pistes if you include all the different variants, which makes it easily 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 skiing is mostly aimed at intermediates, there are some challenges for experts, decent nursery slopes for beginners and a choice of ski schools and guides for those who want to learn, improve or exploit the off-piste safely.

There’s also a good variety of places to stay: the main villages are all very different to one another, but across the Via Lattea as a whole, there is accommodation to suit all budgets, and nightlife to suit all tastes, especially in Sauze d’Oulx, where lively bars aimed at young British visitors share streets with upmarket restaurants catering for wealthy weekenders from Turin. (The other resorts are much quieter.) The Club Med at Pragelato is worth considering if you want an all-inclusive family holiday.

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 Pragelato on skis, it’s not an expedition you will want to do every day. So choose your base carefully, and be prepared to use buses to speed up the journey and skip out the boring bits. Or hire a car at the airport and use it not only to explore all of the Via Lattea but also to enjoy day trips 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 Strengths & Weaknesses

+ 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 Resort Stats

Base: 1360 m
Peak: 2823 m
Vertical: 1463 m
Ski Area: 400 km
Longest Run: 9 km
Beginner: 24 %
Intermediate: 55 %
Advanced: 21 %
Number of ski lifts: 79
Lift Capacity: 113000
Nearest Airport: Innsbruck
Transfer Time: 1 hour 90 mins

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Via Lattea Resort Ratings

Ski Area star rating
Lift System star rating
Snowsure star rating
Beginner star rating
Intermediate star rating
Advanced star rating
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Apres Ski star rating
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Total Ratings = 11

Ratings sum = 36

Via Lattea Map

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