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No more than two hours away by car, ski slopes and hiking treks await you for a weekend getaway.
On a clear day you get a glimpse of the mountains stretching all along the northern border of Milan. They seem surprisingly close, and they actually are, because in just a one or two-hour drive from the city (traffic permitting) you can reach the foothills or Prealps and eventually the Alps – the mountain range that separates Italy from France, Switzerland and Austria.
The most popular, internationally renowned destinations are not close; Monte Rosa and Mont Blanc are about a three-hour drive towards France, while the Dolomites are more than four hours. But the good news is that you don’t have to leave the Lombardy region to find other respectable alpine resorts for both summer and winter sports.
The main places where Milanese locals escape for a day of hiking or skiing are Valsassina, Montecampione in val Camonica, or Piani di Bobbio and Valtorta, near Lecco. But driving just half an hour further, you reach Livigno, Madesimo, Santa Caterina di Valfurva glacier or Bormio – which combines skiing with another great feature, the hot springs, among the most beautiful and picturesque in Italy.
Here’s where you can go for quick escape from Milan.
The small Alpine town Livigno is great for visiting all year around. The ski slopes reach 2,800m above sea level, so snow is natural and the artificial snow is rarely needed. Nicknamed the “little Tibet”, it’s very popular with tourists for its 115 km of slopes, its uncontaminated environment due to its strategic position between the Swiss National Park and the Stelvio National Park, and for the opportunity to ski on two different mountain sides on sunny slopes from morning till night. For a nice walk, go up to the Trepalle village, at 2,250 m – Europe’s highest, permanently inhabited place.
Bormio is a place with two souls: a beautiful ski resort and quiet spa town where you can relax in the scenic, open air swimming pools, which are steaming in the snow.
Bormio counts 50 km of ski slopes with a vertical drop of over 1,800 meters where you can practice downhill skiing on an unrivalled slope, from 3,012 to 1,225 m; their motto is #weareverticalfun. Other options are dog sledding, snowboarding, and Nordic-skiing – even in the summer. As a host of two editions of the Alpine World Ski Championships, the Stelvio of Bormio slope is the most spectacular and difficult one with almost 1,000 meters of a vertical drop. On Fridays, you can ski here at night.
In the heart of Stelvio National Park, 35 km of ski slopes up to 2800 meters of altitude, including the new one called “Deborah Compagnoni”, inaugurated for the World Alpine Ski Championship, where you can go night skiing. It is a popular destination for those who practise Alpine skiing, especially being part of the Ortles-Cevedale group, which is undoubtedly the most extensive in Europe. For trained mountaineers, the walk of the thirteen peaks on the Forni glacier offers a two-day (or more) experience. But if you stay in the valley, on foot or by mountain bike you can easily reach the Rifugio Forni, a magnificent building from the early 20th century with a restaurant serving traditional cuisine.
Madesimo is the last town before Switzerland with 50km of slopes like the spectacular ones for Alpine skiing in Val di Lei and those that descend from Colmenetta, while more experienced skiers can try the Canalone, known for its beauty and difficulty. If the day is not enough, the ski area Valchiavenna also offers night skiing on Saturday and Wednesday evenings thanks to the night opening of Larici cable car, with a chance to dine at the arrival at the Larici Shelter.
A Bormio spa hotel with an infinity pool overlooking snowy mountains.
Order the best of Valtellina cuisine: pizzoccheri pasta, chestnut dumplings and apple fritters.
An extensive 230 km of slopes and 70 ski lift systems between Santa Caterina Valfurva, Bormio, Livigno and, in the summer, the Stelvio glacier.