QUEEN OF SNOW – MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO

Italy’s Madonna di Campiglio is a ski lover’s paradise, where glitz and glamour meet good old down-to-earth fun.

The ‘Queen of Snow’ – that is the nickname for Madonna di Campiglio. It is a nod to the resort’s regal links (in the late 19th century, the village was a summer extension of the court of Vienna, when Emperor Franz Josef used to holiday here), and also to its inherent elegance that has been attracting the Italian glitterati ever since the 1960s.

But for all its glitz and stylishness, Madonna di Campiglio is a ski resort that is refreshingly down to earth in its attitude, and prices – costs are nowhere near as eye-watering as they are in some of the A-list destinations further north, and you don’t need to be sporting the latest Prada all-in-one to feel at home here. Families, young groups of freeskiers, die-hard adventurers and first-timers, they all flock here for the same reason: the skiing. Which is why so many Crystal Ski Holidays customers choose to holiday here each year.

Madonna di Campiglio is connected with the outlying ski villages of Folgarida and Marilleva, and with the neighbouring resort of Pinzolo – the latter of which is reached via a spectacular 16-minute gondola ride. The link, which was created in 2011, extended Madonna’s ski area by an extra 30km, so now there are 150km to play on, the most in all of Trentino.

And play you will. Located in a valley between the spectacular Brenta Dolomites and the glaciers of Adamello and Presanella, the ski area is as varied as it is extensive. Beginners can find their legs on the various nursery slopes, for example those situated at Campo Carlo Magno, and the wooded, easily-navigable blues. There is also a large network of red runs offering long descents all the back to town – Madonna boasts some of the best intermediate-level skiing in Italy.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of black runs for experts looking to test their skill, and nerve. For example, the infamous Spinale Direttissima, which starts from the top of Monte Spinale and dives all the way down to town. It features an insanely steep section called Schumacher Streif (in honour of Ferrari’s famous F1 driver, who often holidayed here before his tragic ski accident in 2013). Ski runs don’t get any more thrilling than this.

As fun, and exquisitely maintained, as the pistes are (Madonna regularly wins prizes for the quality of its piste grooming), be sure to pack your fat skis and venture beyond the piste poles. While much of the surrounding land is National Park, and therefore off-limits, it is possible to find some fun off-piste terrain with a guide. For example, the high alpine bowls off the Passo Grostè, the ski area’s highest point at 2444m, often hold good snow long after a storm.

Freestylers who prefer to spend more time in the air than on the snow will be pleased to hear that there are four terrain parks on offer. Cream of the crop is the Ursus Snowpark, in the highest part of Grostè area. It is considered to be one of the best in Europe, with more than 50,000m2 dedicated to jumps, boxes and rails, all graded from beginner to expert. Served by the Grostè Express chairlift, you can lap the park to your heart’s content.

LA DOLCE VITA

Not even the most dedicated skier can ride all day without a lunch break (OK, perhaps they can, but we can’t). This being Italy, it’s no surprise that Madonna di Campiglio takes its food very seriously. Whether you are after traditional mountain food or a gourmet feast, there are loads of restaurants to choose from.

The quality of the traditional cuisine at restaurants, both on the hill and in town, is generally excellent, and surprisingly good value too. Try Rifugio Doss del Sabion, at the top of Pinzolo’s ski area. Choose from the bar, à la carte restaurant, self-service or private dining room (or even the barbecue, weather permitting). Re-fuel on local venison in a red wine sauce, or homemade sausages with sauerkraut, while taking in 360° views of the Brenta Dolomites.

If a stylish bar is more your scene, don your glad rags and head down to Madonna di Campiglio town. You’ll find everything from tapas-style plates at the Chillin’ Tapas Bar, to lip-smacking cocktails at the Home Stube bar and restaurant.

If the aforementioned ‘glad rags’ is where you après-ski interests lie, you’re in luck: Madonna di Campiglio is renowned for its world class shopping. There are over 40 shops in Madonna alone, with more if you head to Folgarida and Marilleva, all of which stay open well into the early evening. As well as designer boutiques, you’ll find shops selling everything from ski poles to souvenirs.

WINTER YOUR WAY

Even if you’re not in the mood to shop, it’s worth embarking on a passeggiata – a traditional evening stroll with friends or family. The pretty traffic-free centre is particularly atmospheric at dusk when the surrounding high peaks of the Brenta Dolomites are tinged pink with the fading sun.

In Madonna, everyone gets dressed up for the occasion – don your finest (faux) fur coat and join them. Later in the evening, the town’s two enormous nightclubs become the place to see, and be seen, among the younger locals and visitors.

For families whose idea of après-ski is more activity-orientated, there are plenty of options for the fun to continue once the ski lifts close. During winter season the frozen lake of Madonna di Campiglio, Conca Verde, is transformed into a giant ice skating rink, open every evening until 19:30. There is also the chance to try dog sledding at the Piana di Nambino area, where an instructor will accompany you on a ride through the enchanting landscapes of the Dolomites.

That is the best part about Madonna di Campiglio – whatever you want you ski holiday to be, it is all there on tap, meaning no stress for you. And getting there is just as hassle-free with Crystal – all holiday packages include flights, transfers and accommodation. Plus, you can add lift passes, equipment hire and ski school too, so everything’s ready for when you arrive. You’ll get expert service every step of the way and Crystal’s free Ski Explorer app has snow reports, resort info and more. And of course, they’ve got you covered with ABTA and ATOL protection.

From skiing pistes to snowboarding the park, from eating traditional Italian feasts to modern tapas, from shopping to dog sledding – there is no one way to winter in Madonna di Campiglio.

But however you do it, do it with Crystal.


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