Italian Alps - Olympic Mountains
ENJOY WINTER SPORTS IN THE OLYMPIC MOUNTAINS
Having played hosts to the 2006 Winter Olympics, Region Piedmont offers some of the best winter sports venues in Europe. We mention a few of the main ones here and provide some links for you to use if you require more information. Please be aware that we are about 2 hours drive from most of these locations. We provide the information purely as a service to our guests and other web site users. We are not are not in any way suggesting that it would be convenient for anyone to ski everyday in the Olympic mountains from our location.
Snow sports are the big winter attraction. Travel west of Turin into the upper Susa valley and you will find the some of the best ski and boarding terrains in Europe. The Valle di Susa and neighbouring Val Chisone are now famous for having been 2006 winter Olympic venues. You will find everything from black runs for experts to nursery slopes for beginners. The main centres of activity in this area jointly referred to in publicity and marketing material as the ‘Montagnedoc’ are listed below:
Avigliana; Susa; Sauze d’Oulx; Bardonnecchia; Claviere; Sestriere; Pragelato; Pinerolo;
Prali; Torre Pellice; Chiomonte pian del Frais; Cesana Sansicario
These centers all share a web site which you can use to make ski and hotel reservations, it offers a choice of preferred languages including English.
SKI THE VAL LATTEA [THE MILKY WAY]
In 1896 history tells us that skiing was born when Adolfo Kind put on some ‘funny skate shoes’ and hurtled down the slopes of Sauze d’Oulux, the village which is now the centre of the prestigious ski area known as Val Lattea or Milky Way. Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulux, Sansicario, Clavière together with the French resort of Montegenevre make up a vast interlinked ski domain of pistes. Essentially this is a huge ski playground extending over the two slopes of eastern Sansicario and western Clavière. A playground that boasts: 78 lifts, including gondolas, chair-lifts, drag lifts, and 400 kilometres of pistes. Such impressive infrastructure brings many tourists. In high season and at weekends in winter, over 108,000 people per hour are carried by all the lifts. If it is ski lessons you want then take your pick from over 600 ski instructors shared between 12 schools. There is also 50 km. of cross-country pistes. With something to suit all abilities and exceptionally reliable snow conditions it remains a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The town of Pragelato is also linked into the Val Lattea by a modern cableway.
For more information go to www.vialattea.it [in Italian and English]
SKI TOWNS AND VILLAGES
The posh centre which lies between the Susa and Chisone Valleys is of course Sestriere, conceived by Mussolini and built in the 1930s by Giovanni Agnelli, this is considered a sexy resort, it does therefore come with a heavier price tag and to be honest, the town itself is not architecturally that pretty. Once on the slopes though the scenery is amazing. It has 18 hotels, 4 ski schools and the town rests at a dizzy height of 2035m or 6676ft. The most famous pistes are the Sises, Banchetta and Motta, as well as the "Giovanni Alberto Agnelli" piste with artificial lighting allowing night time use. It is open in season until 10 o’clock in the evening. For lovers of cross country skiing there is the nearby area of Monterotta. Be aware however that Sestriere a resort dedicated to winter sports, it gives little attention to summer visitors, indeed most hotels close for the summer.
A pretty and popular village resting at an impressive 1760m or 5774ft of altitude at the foot of the “Monti della Luna” Moon Mountains. It is thought that Hannibal descended from the Alps through this ancient alpine village. Other famous historical patrons include Julius Caesar and Napoleon. Clavière comes into the Via Lattea ski area connected via the Montegenevre lifts - Claviere on one side of the mountain and French Montegenevre on the other. You can come back into Italy by means of the Rocher de l’Aigle chairlift, which takes you to Colletto Verde (2550m); from here you can ski down to the bottom of the Gimont valley, along a piste for all abilities.
Bardonecchia, the first stop after Frejus the tunnel and at the head of the Susa Valley. It was the building of the tunnel that transformed Bardonecchia from an essentially forsaken customs post into a tourist venue. Unfortunately developing the modern absorbed much of the traditional village. Claims to fame include: being the first Piedmontese ski resort; the first resort in Italy to have artificial snow; the Olympic venue for snowboarding in the snow park of Bardonecchia; the home for the winter Universiadi (world university games) 2007. For lovers of freestyle there is the Olympic half pipe track. The town is now divided into two parts, the modern and not so attractive Borgonuovo and the old town Borgovecchio. There is a sports hall with a free climbing wall. There is also a convenient railway station on the Turin-Modane line. Bardonecchia cannot be called a stylish development; it has suffered somewhat by its concentration on tourist revenue. This does mean however that facilities are good and in the recently-built Palazzo delle Feste, shows and concerts are held that receive nationwide recognition. There are 23 lifts, taking 23,850 people per hour, and three ski-schools.
Val Germanasca and Val Chisone Pragelato.
The main Val Chisone winter ski resort is located about 80 kilometres from Turin. It boasts 35 kms of covered pistes suitable for beginners and experienced skiers. Cross-country skiing and snowshoe walks are also very popular in these valleys. See our web page about the Waldensians valleys for more historical background on these areas.
Just 90kms from Turin Prali lies at the foot of Cozie Alps which divide it from the French Regional Park of Queyras. This small town is situated at the edge of the Val Germanasca, in a large valley crossed by the Envie River. An interesting alpine village where nature manages to impress despite the interference of modern tourist developments. As often in these small mountain settlements, the town is rich in traditions and culture. Prali regards itself as a good family resort both for cross country skiing and downhill skiing with an abundance of different tracks. One of the more interesting and unusual sports that Prali offers is Ski Archery. Started about 20 years ago, the Archery Biathlon combines downhill skiing and ski archery. The International Biathlon Union organises the World Cup (4/5 rounds between December and March) and the World Championships each year. Among this sport's stars is Nadia Peyrot a Prali girl, winner of many international awards and number one in the 2002 World Cup. Check Out the following web site if you want more information about this sport, although the information seems to be several years out of date. www.arcoclubpraly.supereva.it [English language option available]
Prali has several web sites if you want to check out the area or require more information
www.praly.it [only in Italian but some great pictures]
www.comune.prali.to.it [an English version option is available but not all the site has been translated]
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