Italy is the place we go to wallow in the gorgeous scenery, to linger over lunch and ski without pressure. That said, Italy’s ski resorts span some of Europe’s greatest ski domains where you can clock up mile after mile on vast lift-linked circuits like the Sella Ronda, in the Dolomites – arguably the world’s most beautiful mountains. They do things differently in Italy – and that goes for its ski resorts too. Forget that urge to be the first on the lift. Instead, make a lunch reservation at that beautiful mountain rifugio. Italy tends to be cheaper than its main European rivals France, Austria and Switzerland, and its laid-back ambiance makes it a natural for families and anyone who is more interested in just enjoying the snow rather than skiing faster, further and steeper than the next person.
A top ski’n’spa resort, Bormio is an historic Lombard spa town with bags of character and an uninterrupted summit-to-base run that delivers the greatest vertical drop in Italy. Irresistible. Bormio offers skiers a compelling blend of traditional town buzz, authentic Italian ambiance, beautiful scenery, and snow-sure slopes; it’s spot-on for discerning intermediates who can also enjoy day trips to Livigno and Santa Caterina. Bormio’s main ski area is Vallecetta, on the slopes of Cima Bianca, rising from the southern end of town. At the mid-altitude Bormio 2000 hub area, is a bustling plateau housing a couple of small slope-side hotels with welcoming café-bar/restaurant terraces; this level also has a beginners’ area and a number of ski-tows serving the surrounding tree-lined slopes, including a much cared for snowpark. The majority of the slopes are red, including the tough Stelvio piste that hosts World Cup races; we say all are entertaining enough for mid-level intermediates, but our absolute must-ski is the summit-to-base route with the biggest vertical drop in Italy – over a mile. Off-piste is restricted, but there are two designated freeride zones. The separate small San Colombano ski area to the west of Bormio offers an additional few tree-lined red and blue runs. The charming old quarter is filled with historic palatial buildings and peppered with piazzas, fountains, churches and chapels. There are three fabulous spas in and around the town, all fed by naturally hot mineral-rich springs. Après-ski is lively at the slope-side bars up at Bormio 2000 and at the base terminal BeWhite bar, while nightlife in Bormio town revolves around a handful of trendy bars, plus a couple of small nightclubs.