Try the Aosta valley for size

28th August 2009, by Chris Gill

North of Turin, Italy’s Valle d’Aosta can reasonably claim to contain the best skiing that Italy has to offer - and its highest slopes. What’s more, the resorts vary widely, from established mountaineering towns to tiny, old villages and modern ski stations. At its heart though is the ‘capital’ Aosta - a mid-sized city that makes a good base for touring the area.

There are three classic mountain ranges surrounding the valley: Monte Bianco Monterosa and Grand Paradiso. The valley has high mountains on both sides, and comes to an abrupt stop at Monte Bianco. Courmayeur - the resort at the foot of Europe’s highest mountain - is well known in the UK, as is Cervinia, up a long side valley on the Swiss border. But the valley has other resorts worth knowing about - many of which make good cross-country, heli-skiing or ski touring bases.

Aosta is rich in Roman and medieval remains, and a very unusual valley city in also being a ski resort. This is because of its gondola access to Pila - a modern ski station, looking much like a French purpose-built resort.

Monterosa Ski is a Three Valley system to the east of Cervinia, linking three charming, traditional villages: Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna. But there are a couple of small ski areas just south of Champoluc: Antagnod (great for families) and Brusson.

Grand Paradiso is the only 4000m peak entirely in Italy. On the fringes of the national park are two small resorts: Cogne, a major cross-country resort and Rhêmes Notre Dame. In the next valley along is Valgrisenche: best known for it’s heli-skiing.

But there are lots of tiny places in the valley worth considering too. A Valle d’Aosta lift pass is available covering all the resorts in the region (about 20 or so), plus La Rosière in France and Zermatt (two days).

If you want to find out more about them, check out our new chapter in Where to Ski and Snowboard 2010 - in the shops from September.



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