La belle vie or la dolce vita?
Hopping across the channel is indeed easy, and so it's not surprising that France has long been the focus of British skiing and snowboarding. Fond memories of the present writer include: difficult conversations (in a mash of languages) with ESF instructors, the inexplicably lengthy lunch hour at the local post office, and cheese fondue. And no doubt France will remain in pole position for years to come, but the prospect of a skiing holiday in Italy is a real excitement, and here's why...
Firstly, traveling to a skiing holiday in Italy may sound like a forbidding proposition, but in reality getting to many of the Italian ski resorts is quick and easy. For example, the flight time from the central London airports to Turin is 1 hour 45 minutes (compare this with 1 hour 40 minutes to Geneva). And from here you've got great resorts on your doorstep: Bardonecchia, in the Piedmont region, is just 1 hour's drive from Turin, and Cervinia is just 1 hour 45 minutes from Turin. Both of these resorts make great locations for a short break ski or snowboard holiday.
Secondly, there's great skiing to be had in areas of amazing natural beauty. Cervinia shares the Matterhorn (in Italian, it's the Monte Cervino) with Zermatt, a mountain that is completely iconic (not just because it's on the Toblerone packaging!) and is, for many, the embodiment of a holiday in the mountains. Elsewhere, the Dolomite mountains contain a number of ski resorts (follow the link for ski accommodation in the Dolomites), allowing you to holiday against a backdrop that can only be described as other-wordly. As for the slopes, the statistics speak for themselves: a holiday in Cervinia gives you access to 360km of piste reaching a peak of 3820m, while a holiday at the Sella Ronda circuit in the Dolomites gives you access to 433km of piste reaching 3250m. With such high altitudes you've got a snow sure guarantee. If you're looking for a unique skiing or snowboarding experience, try a ski safari in the Dolomites.
Lastly, there's the issue of food and drink. Forget apres-ski, there's no vin chaud on the menu, and your cheese is more likely to be mozzarella. But celebrate the difference! The Italians love to dine, especially in big groups including all the family. You really are in for a treat: sip prosecco before launching into the main meal, seeing how far you can get through the sequence of aperitivo, antipasto (both starters), primo, secondo (both essentially main courses) and dolce (dessert). It should also be noted that all of this is very affordable, with Italian mountain prices some of the lowest around.
Now you're in the know, try la dolce vita for this year's skiing holiday!
If you're interested in skiing in Bardonecchia then check out Chalet Bianca on ChaletFinder, or head to the Sempre Ski blog (http://sempreski.blogspot.co.uk/), which is run by chalet hosts Kate and Graeme.
To ski in Cervinia, located in the Aosta valley with great easy access to skiing in Switzerland including Zermatt, why not consider Piccolo Sogno, a self-catered traditional style chalet for groups of up to 10 people.
And if it's the dramatic surroundings of the Dolomites that gets your heart racing, then why not stay in Chalet Angelo, a catered chalet in the Alta Badia resort, with luxury facilities including sauna and steam room.