My First Holiday in the Italian Alps
Working and writing for both us here at the Ski Club and our student website, Line-S, Charlotte Ahlen takes us over to the Italian Alps, Cervinia, and tells us why it could potentially trump any future French or Austrian winter holiday.
Each year, it seems the norm to crave that heat of a summer holiday. However, for some reason, I’m drawn to snow capped mountains each winter, like a moth to a flame. I mean, who in their right mind would spend their time off work in freezing cold temperatures, willingly getting up at 8am and exercising all day? Well, me apparently.
After what felt like weeks of painful debating, planning and eventually booking, we were finally off to the snowy mountains. Trying to keep a low-budget in mind, we steered away from my beloved Austria and opted for something different this year. It was time for my boyfriend and I to head over to Cervinia, Italy…
After a regrettably early start that I had convinced us both would be a great idea, along with a plane ride and short car journey later, the mountains were in sight and we had nearly arrived at our home for the next week; Valtournenche, Cervinia’s neighbouring village (i.e. slightly cheaper). Instantly spotting the sweet little guest house, Miramonti, we checked ourselves in and went exploring. Skis services, lift pass sorted, and not having eaten for a whole few hours, we made the executive decision it was time to try out some of what the Italians do best – FOOD! It’s safe to say, we quickly fell in love with the place…
Fed and rested, it was time to hit the mountains. After religiously following snow reports the week before, (working for the Ski Club it’s pretty hard to avoid), we knew an insane amount of snow was heading our way, but even that couldn’t prepare us for what we were about to ski on. Clouds. I’ve had my fair share of white outs, but my god there was A LOT of snow… Not being able to see doesn’t always serve me well when skiing, but even I could appreciate how lucky we were.
After battling through the snow for the day, alongside trying to avoid bringing up my lunch all over the piste, we decided to call it a day, grab a beer, some dinner, then pass out in bed.
Hoping for a better day visibility wise, we stayed positive after the arrival of the sun the following morning. However it wasn’t until we got to Valtournenches Gondola, Salette, that we were told the whole resort was shut – Valtournenche, Cervinia and Zermatt, due to high winds. Awesome. Left wondering what to do next, our luck soon changed as were approached by what seemed to be the only other Brits there, who had heard of a small resort called ‘Torgnon’ down the road. With no skiing not being an option in our books, and avoiding stupidly priced taxis, we all jumped in our questionably designed rented Fiat and headed off.
As Torgnon isn’t affected by wind, it remained open. While also being known as the ‘Sunny Village’ and the ‘White Heart of Valle d’Aosta’, we managed to get our first bit of sunshine of the holiday. Even with it being a small resort, offering only a handful of lifts, we still appreciated the fact we could even ski that day, while simultaneously making sure everyone back home felt bad for deciding against joining us on a ski holiday. They only have themselves to blame…
SUN! Not only did we manage to see another day of (on and off) sun, but we also finally got over to Cervinia for the day and as what seemed to be the theme for that week, we centred it on finding the perfect place to eat for lunch. We’d heard Igloo Bar needed checking out, so after an unexpected short climb up some stupidly steep stairs (in ski boots, a struggle lost among the smug snowboarder I had with me ), two gondolas and being forced down a closed, unpisted run, we found it. Thankfully, it did not disappoint…
The one day I decided against pasta… it was the right thing to do – Cervinia
Fully fuelled and a beer down, we finished off the day with some great skiing, empty runs and the only way we knew how, with more food. Apparently it’s impossible to order a beer in Valtournenche without a side of meat and cheese… hey, I’m not complaining.
From a week of being reminded of just how unfit I was, by now I had finally managed to feel just about my normal self again. No sun but at least good visibility, snow once again treating us with more than we deserved and empty slopes. With a mixture of feeling frustrated about not having been able to head over to Zermatt all week, while also feeling smug after arguing the sensible decision not to buy a full area lift pass, we still managed to fulfil my boyfriend’s desperate need to see the almighty – Matterhorn – even if only from the Italian side. We’ll get him to Switzerland one day…
Cervinia ft. Matterhorn
Today was also the day for the snowboarder to decide where todays lunch would take place, and of course he just so happen to find ‘the best burger in Cervinia’ – La Bricole. If you’re a burger lover, you have to go here. No scrap that, if you’re just any sort of food lover, you have to go here. I would come back to Cervinia just for this place. Incredible food and very welcoming, you’re not left with anything to complain about. I mean, you’re in the mountains, you shouldn’t have much to complain about. The man did good…
La Bricole – Cervinia
Our final day of skiing had sadly arrived, and after weeks of probing the idea of getting a guide for a day, his wish was, well, his own command. I had no say in the matter, but was left glad that I didn’t, because it was definitely the highlight of the week. Luckily, with enough visibility to at least see what the hell I had decided to jump off the side of, we finished the week off in a way I never thought I would – completely out of breath and completely out of my depth. Hats off to our guide though – a man who could quite literally do anything it seemed, and even with little English, he was one of the most patient and friendliest people I’ve met to date.
Guide – Valtournenche
Guide – Valtournenche
As we woke up on our final day, the sad reality of having to head back to the UK settling in, I can honestly say I didn’t want to leave. Not because the prospect of going back to work was slightly less inviting than skiing every day, but more of the fact that I completely fell in love with the resort. I was definitely sceptical when starting out on this trip and now I’m struggling to understand why, as I would hands down recommend Cervinia to everyone and anyone. Great skiing, great food and probably the friendliest people I’ve found in any ski resort. With rumours also flying around that there’s a plan to connect all three, Cervinia, Zermatt and Valtournenche with its friend down the road, Champoluc – that’s a holiday pretty hard to say no to.
If you want a week of hard-core black runs and extreme skiing, then you’re probably better off popping over to Zermatt, but for anything else, you need to get yourselves over to Italy.
Top of Cervinia