21st January 2019 | Jane Peel, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
Perfect pistes, Italian style & fab food at an affordable price. PlanetSKI heads to Madonna di Campiglio.
The famous Dolomites town is one of the most fashionable ski areas in Italy.
Probably second only to Cortina d’Ampezzo.
While some of the other famous Dolomites ski areas to the north east of here, such as Val Gardena, have a Tirolean feel, Madonna di Campiglio is very Italian.
It’s an attractive town that oozes Italian alpine elegance and sparkle, particularly at night.
And then there’s the spectacular scenery of the Brenta Dolomites.
I’m here on a short trip with Crystal Ski, whose customers seem to like Italy a lot.
And here at PlanetSKI we are having a bit of an Italian experience at the moment.
Our editor, James Cove, has been in Val Gardena:
They like it not least for its value for money.
Yes, even in Madonna di Campiglio.
This plate of tasty food in Home Stube a trendy, popular dining establishment in the heart of town, cost €12.
You won’t need a mortgage for a coffee, a hot chocolate or a bowl of pasta in the stylish mountain pitstops, or rifugios.
Madonna di Campiglio is known as the Pearl Of The Dolomites.
The town sits at around 1,550 metres altitude and most of the skiing is below 2,000 metres.
But don’t let that worry you.
It has a long winter season – November to the start of May.
A massive 95% of its runs are equipped with snowmaking, and they know what they’re doing with the artificial stuff in the Dolomites, as I’ve found in the past:
It’s just as well.
On my visit in mid-January, the snow base is very thin and most of it is artificial.
It snowed in November and then….nothing.
As I arrived, the real stuff was falling, at last.
But no more than 5 to 10cm came down over 24 hours.
There is no doubt that snow cannons are the saviour of winter tourism in these parts and the pistes are kept in superb condition.
Which is great, especially when they’re as quiet as they are on my visit.
The snow guarantee – as long as it’s cold enough to make it – is a big draw.
The town, which stretches along 3km of a wooded valley, has 1,000 permanent residents.
In the peak winter holidays the population swells to 40,000.
The name is a bit of mouthful.
Campiglio means ‘little camp’ in Latin.
The Madonna bit dates back to the origins of the village in the 12th Century.
It was founded in 1195 as a monastery, dedicated to Our Lady, the Madonna.
At the end of the 1800s, it was the favoured holiday resort of the royals of the Austrian House of Habsburg.
Skiing began here in 1910.
According to the tourist office, the first ‘brave’ skiers to tackle a route down from Monte Spinale that year were English.
It’s a little easier for the likes of us these days.
For a start, there’s an efficient, generally fast system of lifts to get us to the top.
It is an intermediate’s playground.
Most of the runs are blues and reds, though there are some more challenging blacks across the Campiglio ski area.
The most famous run is the floodlit black Miramonti that ends up in the town.
It’s where the first World Cup alpine race in Italy took place in 1967.
Every year it plays host to the World Cup night slalom in December.
If you love blasting around the groomers – something I always enjoy – and you’re more of an advanced than intermediate skier or snowboarder, you can cover a lot of ground.
But if you’re more comfortable gently cruising the easy blues, there’s a route down to the centre of town from the top of every one of Madonna di Campiglio’s four peaks: Pradalago, Cinque Laghi, Monte Spinale and Passo Grostè.
And there are tree-lined runs everywhere.
Since December 2011, Madonna di Campiglio has been joined to Pinzolo and Folgardia-Marilleva, creating a lift-linked ski area offering more than 150km of pistes.
There are also four snowparks if freestyle’s your thing.
Crystal Ski’s rep in Madonna di Campiglio is John Malvicini Johnstone – an Italy aficionado.
I ask him for his take on the place:
I simply love the Dolomites for on piste skiing.
It’s true: there is more demanding terrain elsewhere.
But you can’t beat the scenery.
It’s hard to beat the food, for the money you’ll pay for it at any rate.
And Madonna di Campiglio is the epitome of Italian ski town chic.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
New for this winter season, Crystal Ski Holidays (020 8610 3123) offers a week’s half board at the four star Golf Hotel for £649* per person, based on two people sharing and travelling from London Gatwick on 23 March 2019. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Verona and transfers.
*Price given for departure on 23rd March 2019 is correct as of 23rd January.
Direct flights from all major UK airports are available.
The Golf Hotel is about 20 minutes’ walk from the main town of Madonna di Campiglio.
There is a drag lift close by to access the ski area or it’s a 5 minute walk to the Grostè gondola and Fortini Express chairlift.
The hotel operates a free shuttle service to and from the town centre until about 7pm.
A full area lift pass for 6 days for an adult is €280 in high season (26 Jan to 10 March) and €245 at all other times.
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