The Best Italian Ski Resort - In my opinion!
I wrote about why we love Bormio a year ago now and nothing has changed. We will be off there again in February to take both our children, one who can now ski. Partly from learning in Bormio and partly in the UK at the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead.
My youngest is too little being only 3, although the Swiss start at 2 years old! However a good ski instructor friend of ours told us the perfect age is 4 years old.
Any younger and the potential fear you can create in them stays with them and then they struggle to get past it. At 4 in his opinion, (an expert instructor with 4 of his own kiddies!) there is enough maturity to cope with any fear that may arise but they can understand and be reasoned with more so that they keep trying and don’t give up after any bounces in the powder!
So why Bormio?
Bormio is one of those places you want to keep a secret! Papa' Prada has been coming here since he was six years old and we have been here together regularly for over ten years, more recently with our two children. In our eyes it is one of the Best Italian Ski Resorts.
Bormio is a beautiful ancient mountain village and ski resort in the Northern Italian Alps. Not tarnished by too much après ski, cheaper than France and Austria and not overwhelmed by visitors. It does get busy and a few British people have found it, but mostly it’s a second home destination for Italians living around Milan.
The village centre is a maze of 17th century cobbled streets and grand stone facades and is nestled beneath the famous ‘ Stelvio’ piste.
The Stelvio is part of the Alpine World Cup Downhill Skiing Challenge and can be seen from the village by day and is illuminated by night.
Why is it the Best Italian Ski Resort?
Bormio I believe has something for everyone. Usually when you go away for this type of trip not everyone will want to ski all the time. Some in your group might not ski at all or be at a very early stage in their learning.
You might want a bit of culture, different activities, some shopping, good food. You can't get this amount of variety in every place. In fact there aren't many resorts which can offer all of this and are still authentic.
If you love to ski there are 27 miles of piste with black, red and blue runs. You can take the cable car up to 3000m where you can either ski down or watch from a little café and eat piadina’s (warm wraps folded and filled with prosciutto and cheese). There used to be an enormous Saint Bernard dog who would lie by your feet, but we heard on our last visit he had sadly ‘gone up to the clouds’ as my children say!
If you prefer to hang out where there’s a bit more than just skiing on offer you can travel up to 2000m. Here there is a bigger restaurant, café, English speaking ski schools, and the entrance to the beginner’s slopes and other lifts.
Not a skier?
It’s not all about the skiing though. I have also been Husky Dog Sledging, ice skating, viewed Ice sculpture competitions and visited the mountain spas.
Bagni Vecchi my favourite spa, is open all year round but is quite something when you’re sat in a hot open air swimming pool viewing the snowy mountains all around you. They also offer beauty treatments, a small hotel and various other grottoes and lavender filled rest rooms. You feel like you’re floating when you leave!
You are fed a long list of different delicious dishes, wine, digestivi and coffee. Afterwards there’s music, dancing and you can either jump back on the Snowcat or be given a torch to ski down the mountain. It’s magical watching the little line of lights as people ski down to the village below.
Other places of interest
Livigno is a beautiful, chocolate box mountain town. Due to being in such a remote location it was made into a duty-free destination. Apart from stunning ‘Hansel and Gretel’ style houses, you can shop here for designer clothes, food and drink. You can also ski here.
Due to the huge windows on the train which reach into the ceiling space you can see vast amounts of the mountain side. It’s quite an exceptional journey, travelling as high as 2,253m.
What to eat & drink?
Bormio is situated in Valtellina a valley famous for red wines such as Nebbiolo, Nino Negri and Sassella.
To eat there are comforting dishes such as ‘Pizzoccheri’ which is typical of the region. This is buckwheat pasta ribbons with soft potatoes, cabbage, melted cheese and sage butter.
Others to try are ‘Cervo con Polenta’, venison with mushrooms, polenta and a gravy-like sauce.
‘Sciatt’ is one of my favourites. The name means toads in Valtellina dialect! Possibly given as they are little crunchy balls and have irregular shapes. They are made by taking little pieces of cheese dipped in a batter of buckwheat flour, frying them and serving on a bed of chicory. The bitterness of chicory mixed with the gooey cheese and crunchy coating is divine.
If you’d like to venture out for a glass of wine, visit ‘Skianta bar’. This is a gorgeous, very friendly bar off Via Roma. The owner is Milanese, met his Wife in Bormio and just never went back to the family business in Milan! He speaks English and is a brilliant, charismatic proprietor offering a generous selection of snacks with your apertivi!
How to get there
Have you been convinced to see the Italian mountains? If so you can drive from Milan Bergamo airport in around 2.5 hours. There are lots of motorway tunnels this (East) side of Lake Como so it’s quicker.
If you want to take in Lake Como as well, which we often do. You can fly to Milan Malpensa and drive up the west side of Lake Como. This journey will take approximately 3 hours but I would factor in extra time as you will likely want to stop and admire the Lake!