Review of Livigno

18th January 2007 by Ian Collison 

We visited Livigno for the week commencing 6th Jan 07. I am an intermediate snowboarder and my girlfriend is also an early intermediate boarder. We stayed in a self catering apartment in San Rocco. The area was fine and very quiet, and close to some of the smaller nursery drags. During the day the free resort buses were adequate and relatively quiet although we did visit in low season. The most frustrating thing was the fact that they stop at around 8.30pm after which time you are faced with along walk or a taxi ride from the centre. The bus routes are not easy to understand at first, although once you get to know them the system is very simple. A larger scale more legible map would solve the problem and it seems rather strange that the powers that be have not rectified this. It is commonplace to see disorientated visitors bemoaning the fact that the bus they are on is travelling in the wrong direction or has just taken an unexpected turn! If this does happen then the fifteen minute wait between buses does seem like an eternity, especially if you are fully kitted up, and I imagine even more so if you have children in tow.

The resort centre itself (Livigno centro) contains innumerable shops and boutiques mingled with some nice bars and restaurants. Of the restaurants we visited Mario’s impressed us with great food and service. It was also heavily frequented by locals, never a bad sign. We also enjoyed a good meal at the Bellavista, simple tasty food in a bustling bistro style dining room. Of the bars we visited Daphne’s deserves a mention if only for the innovative toilet access! Drinking in bars was not as cheap as one might expect in a duty free resort, especially in consideration of the cost of alcohol in local supermarkets. Food represented generally good value.

My girlfriend attended morning sessions in the intermediate group at the Madness snowboard school sponsored by Burton. This was good value and offered 2.5 hours of tuition per day. The tutor was very good and the group was relatively small. Everyone we spoke to seemed very happy with their experience with Madness. I had a one hour private lesson at the cost of 32 euros, but I think a better value option for intermediates would be the ‘improve your style’ or ‘freestyle’ four day group courses at the cost of 75 euros. These are however taken in the afternoon and therefore weren’t good for us as we would not have any time together on the slopes.

Snow conditions were fairly good throughout our stay with all lifts open every day. On our last day high winds shut some of the top lifts for a few hours but they opened up rapidly when conditions improved. Piste grooming was adequate, and the snow we had (three occasions) was quite well maintained, with fairly good conditions all day. We were lucky with weather and it is easy to imagine that some higher runs are rather exposed in bad weather.

Lifts were reasonably fast, with a few notable exceptions, the old two man chair along the ridge from the Mottolino gondola is not fast, but if you’re in to vintage back to basics chairs then it’s a peach. ( Not as much fun in heavy snow!) The blue run down from the top of this chair and past the top of the gondola indirectly back to the bottom of the mountain is a nice run with some challenging sections for early intermediates. The blue run at the top of Costaccia on the other side of the valley was probably the best place for beginners and early intermediates, with good snow conditions, afternoon sun and wide rolling terrain. Beginners may have trouble negotiating the more tricky reds back down to the village, although a chair is a safe alternative. Of the black terrain the narrow tree run past Tea Bork was the most challenging becoming icy later in the day. Reds were generally well groomed and good for fast cruising. As far as lift queues go the only one I saw all week was for a short drag at the bottom of the mountain, the base of one of the ski schools. Other than that we were straight on to all lifts, especially on the Caroseelo circuit which was remarkably quiet all day.

Mountain restaurants seemed good value, with the immense M’eating point at the top of the Mottolino offering hearty Italian staples in a fast turnaround self service environment. The bar was the only gripe, still having the queue to pay, queue again for drinks system.

We didn’t rent any equipment, although from what I saw it looked generally good quality, and very new ( it was the start of the season).

In summary we had a great week, with excellent snow for the time of year ( many other lower resorts were struggling). The village(s) was pleasant, with a fairly nice ambience. Buses can become tiresome, especially if you live out of the centre or want to cross the valley regularly. Shops are good value, with some bargains to be found. Restaurants were welcoming, family friendly (this is Italy) and good value. Bars and nightlife were a bit limited but adequate. Oh and the transfer, in a word- Long.

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