Tue 17 Nov 2009
Posted by Megan under Entertainment
Given the Piemonte ski resorts officially opened this past weekend, I thought some information on skiing in the area would make for a timely post.
When people think of skiing in Italy, world famous resorts like Sestriere, Courmayeur and Cervinia come to mind. Having skied the later two, I can say that both are lovely villages that have all the amenities that one would want for a week’s ski holiday in the Alps. But what if you don’t want to commit a week to being just in a ski resort? Then this is where the Cuneo Valley offers a good many alternatives.
One of the many reasons I fell in love with TorreBarolo was its proximity – 45min to the Mediterranean and 45min to Maritime Alps that are close to the French border. Although I have hiked into these Southern Alps to escape the summertime heat, it was only this past February that I finally had time to take advantage of my proximity to the numerous local ski resorts ….. and I was very pleasantly surprised.
There are numerous small ski resorts in the Cuneo valley, but I think your best choices are the Riserva Bianca at Limone Piemonte or the Mondole Ski area with your choice of Prato Nevoso and Artesina. From Barolo by car, Limone Piemonte is about an hour and a half and Prato Nevoso and Artesina are a bit less than an hour. If you don’t have a car, there are bus and train options.
Limone Piemonte got a complete make-over/upgrade in 2008 when it hosted The Snowboard World Cup. Lift systems link three valleys and the resorts of Limone, Colle di Tenda and Limonetto. It has 80 kilometres of trails (41 trails to be exact) serviced by 19 ski lifts. (One of the ski lifts was so comfortable, I could have been sitting on my couch.) The resort has a few different areas to ski, but I generally opt for Limonetto that is at 1,294 metres and has trails on 2 mountains, the highest from the 3 Amis mountain at 2,050 metres.
There is a cluster of buildings at the mountain base that contains a ski rental shop, a snack bar/restaurant and a lift ticket booth. I was worried about the quality of the rental equipment at a small report, but it turned out the equipment I rented was the best I had had for years. Lift tickets cost about €33 for a full day though if you are lazy like me, you can start after 11am and pay just €28. The weather tends to be mild in the Maritime Alps and when we were there, the sun was bright, the sky was blue and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen.
The views are stunning over the “Mountains of the Two Rivieras” (Nice is only 60 km away). The slopes are wide, steep and with very few bumps and I felt like a ski goddess cruising down the mountain. And if the non-crowded, well groomed pistes weren’t enough, we had lunch at this cabin restaurant at the top of the mountain where I indulged in polenta with sausage in a wine and tomato sauce …… oh my god. All in all, it was the perfect ski day.
And at the end of the day, you get in your car and head back to the Langhe Valley free to decide if your next day on holiday should be to Turin to indulge in a biceren at one of the elegant cafes or instead to drive 45mins to the sea to explore the seaside towns and indulge in a bowl of fresh seafood pasta. Everything is possible.
(Personally I do everything I can to not fly Ryanair, but in the winter they do have a very handy London-Cuneo Levaldigi flight every Saturday. Levaldigi is only 40mins from Limone Piemonte and the airport has all your basic services like car rental and shuttle services.)