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Sunday January 29, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

January in Cervinia offers empty ski slopes, fabulous food and easy access to sking in Zermatt. PlanetSKI has been in Cervinia for a long weekend.

My intention over the next three days was to eat well and more importantly to ski well.

We left the UK early on Saturday morning.

When I say early, it was a 6.30am flight from Gatwick to Turin.

It was well worth getting up early so as to arrive in resort at a decent time to get organized with ski passes, and the hire of equipment.

The transfer coach snaked up the mountain from Turin airport, and after a quick 1 and 3/4 hours ride, it pulled in to the main square in time for the first of our many gourmet meals.

I had never been to Cervinia before, so arriving in town was exciting.

The view from my room at the Dragon Hotel was breathtaking, it looked out over the ski slope and the infamous mountain, the Monte Cervino, dominated the skyline.

I had the literal 'room with a view'.

My "Room with a view" - Monte Cervino














It was mid January and as expected for the time of year, it was cold, but we were also at the tail end of a big freeze so I expected it to be particularly cold.

On our arrival the conditions were pretty good.

In general it was an average temperature of around -8ºC in town.

Up top we were warned the temperature would drop to -11ºC in the shade so we had to make sure we had extra layers on.

In the sun it was expected to be a warmer +5ºC, and so we hoped we might even get to use some sun tan cream for the first time this season.

But before heading up the mountain we had some training to do.

In anticipation of some off-piste skiing across the Swiss border in Zermatt where we hoped to find a little powder snow, we had to get some safety equipment.

There had been no fresh snow in recent days.

Nevertheless, we still had to be prepared.

In the event of skiing in any off piste terrain in the Aosta region it is mandatory to wear an avalanche transceiver, and to carry a shovel and probe, or receive a 50 Euro fine if caught without.

So we got our kit and had to practice.

Andrea Perron, our guide for the next few days, showed us how.

Andrea Perron, our guide orchestrating the tranceiver searchAndrea Perron, our guide orchestrating the tranceiver search
















Fully prepared we headed up the mountain.

The Cervino ski area, that spans two countries and three valleys, ranges from the 1,500m of Valtournenche to the 3,889m of the Piccolo Cervino.

We had been warned that Cervinia could be windy and top lifts and slopes might be closed and wind swept, but the snow gods were looking down on us and everything was open and still, and perfect.

We were lucky, there was relatively no wind over the three days so there was little wind chill factor to consider.

The huge electronic maps at the lift stations provide two temperatures, the temperature at the lift station and the temperature at the top.

Cold up topCold up top
















So you have the choice of putting on extra layers for warmth or opting out altogether of higher altitude skiing and keeping to lower slopes.

There is one "Toblerone shaped" mountain that dominates the landscape.

We all know its name!

From the Swiss side it is called the Matterhorn, and from the Italian side it is called Monte Cervino, but woe betide you if you use the Swiss name in Cervinia!

Wherever we skied the mighty Monte Cervino dominated the landscape.

Cervinia offers miles and miles of long, wide, gentle runs perfect for beginner and intermediate skiers with wonderful views.

And we skied them all including the Reine Blanche, the 22km slope starting from the Piccolo Cervino (3,883m) in Switzerland that runs down to Valtournenche at 1,524m.

We zoomed along only pausing at piste intersections to ensure safe crossing and to check our companions were still in sight.

With empty pistes and beautifully groomed slopes, we quickly concluded we had hit the jackpot, January is the perfect time of year to be skiing. 

It was also important to pause occasionally to take in the view.

















Pausing to admire the viewPausing to admire the view
















Pausing to Pose for effect Pausing to Pose for effect


















We decided to cross over to Switzerland.

We caught the cable car up to the Plateau Rosa/Testa Grigia and crossed over to Zermatt.

The panoramic view from the top of the mountain at Testa Grigia was awe inspiring.

The view from the Italian side of the Monte Cervino down towards Cervinia is awesome - as captured in the short clip below.



And, in the clip below, the view on the Zermatt side looking at the Matterhorn is equally impressive, though skiing down the northern face down to Furi was somewhat colder.



It looked just like the bar of Toblerone chocolate!

Funny that!

Over the three days we skied extensively.

In the short space of time we had, we sped around, skiing from the top of the Gornergrat railway at 3,089m, from the top of the Matterhorn Glacier Express 3,883m in Zermatt, from the top of Plateau Rosa Testa Grigia 3,480m, from the top of Coll Sup Cime Blanche 2,982m in Cervinia and so much more in between.

The conditions on the groomed pistes were exceptional.

More information on the runs in Cervinia in this article on PlanetSKI.

Turn left for Cervinia, right for ZermattTurn left for Cervinia, right for Zermatt
















Looking down into ZermattLooking down towards Zermatt
















Towards FuriTowards Furi
















Off piste in the shadow of the MatterhornOff piste in the cold shadow of the Matterhorn
















From GornergratThe Matterhorn from Gornergrat
















But let's not forget the food.

The mountain restaurants we visited offered outstanding food.

My favourite was the Chalet Etoile.

Chalet Etoile sits among the blue runs above Plan Maison with the Monte Cervino as a stunning backdrop.

Perfect backdropPerfect backdrop



















We sat inside, but the terrace would have been inviting on a warmer day.

It was a very popular choice and was quite busy.

We feasted on Scandinavian styled meats and delicacies including reindeer meat, a variety of smoked fish and seafood, and more traditional local meats and pasta, washed down with local wine from the Aosta region.

Variety at Chalet EtoileVariety at Chalet Etoile




















The next day we visited another popular Italian lunch spot on the mountain.

Bontadini, was just down from Theodulpass offering tasty platters of cold meats, cheeses and pasta dishes served with a fantastic variety of home made breads washed down with good local red wine.

The restaurant is well worth a visit with great food, great service and great panoramic views out of its large windows.

Pasta, cheese & red wine at BontadiniPasta, cheese & red wine at Bontadini




















We were in a bit of a rush on our last day as we had a plane to catch early evening but we managed to stop for a quick lunch at the cosy Rifugio Guide del Cervinio.

The refuge sits at 3,480m high up at the Plateau Rosa and where I had a bowl of the best Goulash soup I have ever tasted.

I had fulfilled my ambition for the three days.

I had eaten well, better than first expected, and I had skied hard and fast and had covered almost 50% of the extensive terrain offered in Cervinia and Zermatt.

But three days were not long enough.

I wished we could have stayed longer and skied more.

Chalet Dragon, CerviniaChalet Hotel Dragon, Cervinia














Me and Andrea Perron (Guide)PlanetSKI with Andrea Perron (Guide)

















PlanetSKI stayed at the Chalet Hotel Dragon in Cervinia, Italy with Inghams Holidays.

Inghams is offering a seven night holiday on a catered board basis (including buffet breakfasts, afternoon tea and cake and five course evening meals with complimentary wine for six days) at the three-and-a-half-diamond Chalet Hotel Dragon in Cervinia, Italy, from £789pp departing in March 2017.

Price includes return flights to Turin and airport transfers. Ski and snowboard tuition is available to pre-book for three or six half-days from £101pp.

For more information and to book, visit Inghams website  or call 01483 791 114.   
See here for more information on Cervinia and the Aosta Valley 

Chalet Etoile

Rifugio Guide del Cervinio

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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