Italian land and nature: The best places where to ski in central-southern Italy
- WTI Magazine #146 Dec 18, 2021
Spectacular ski runs and engaging trails, where to devote yourself to ski as well as to freeriding, cross-country skiing, snow-kiting or take on an exciting off-track ride: in central and southern Italy there are many (sensational) destinations where to enjoy snow sports.
The most renowned destinations include Gran Sasso and Mount Etna, Aspromonte and La Sila plateau, Abetone, but also Terminillo, Alto Sangro and the Samnite Apennines, between Molise and Campania. In central and southern Italy, there are more than one hundred ski areas for skiers and snowboarders, with both soft and challenging slopes, that attracts many enthusiasts every winter. So not just the Alps: also the Apennines offer emotions to all people visiting in winter.
Which are the most interesting ski areas in central and southern Italy? We showcase them here, starting from Sicily and then gradually moving to the north, to Emilia Romagna.
Where to ski in Sicily
In Sicily, you can ski with a sea view no less than on the slopes of Mount Etna, UNESCO World Heritage Site and highest volcano in Europe. There are ski lifts on both northern and southern side: Etna Nord-Linguaglossa has 5 slopes (with a total of 4 kilometers, 1 easy and 4 intermediate) and 4 ski lifts; Etna Sud-Nicolosi offers 5 slopes (with a total of 10 kilometers, 1 easy and 4 intermediate) and 5 ski lifts. In the area you can also have cross-country skiing (with a 5 and 10 kilometer-long circuits), freeride skiing and ski mountaineering.
The Etna area is easily reachable from Catania (where you shouldn’t miss the Cathedral of Saint Agata, Via Etnea and Via dei Crociferi), one of the most interesting destinations in eastern Sicily together with Taormina (unmissable stop during the Grand Tour, with the ancient Greek theatre), Acireale (a famous Baroque city) and Acicastello (with the Norman castle overlooking the sea). On Mount Etna, you can also take part in guided tours by jeep with visit to the summit craters, the caves and the Silvestri Mountains.
Where to ski in Calabria
From the Sila plateau to the Aspromonte Mountains, Calabria is a great land of mountains: skiing is possible in different localities in the region. On Mount Scirocco, in the Aspromonte National Park, is Gambarie, one of the most suggestive ski resorts in southern Italy: thanks to its location, you can ski admiring the Strait of Messina, Mount Etna and the Aeolian Islands. There are four ski lifts, with a total of 10 kilometers of slopes (one blue, three red and one black). There is also a snowpark and off-piste is possible. There are many marked hiking trails (among which the trail that takes to the Maesano waterfalls and the Polsi shrine.
Where to ski in Molise
Campitello Matese is in the Molise region and a popular resort for winter sports in southern Italy. Its ski area counts on 40 kilometers of slopes (2 easy, 8 medium and 3 difficult), 7 ski lifts and 3 cross-country skiing loops of different difficulty. For freestyle skiing enthusiasts there is a snowpark divided in three areas (for beginners, intermediate level and experts), a bumpy slope and many off-piste itineraries. From Colle del Caprio, the highest point in the area, on a clear day you can see the Vesuvio, the Tyrrenian Sea, the Adriatic Sea and Apulia. Campitello Matese is also a popular destination for cycling (it has been a Giro d’Italia arrival stage several times) and climbing. Not far is Sepino, enlisted in the “Italy’s most beautiful villages” association, with remains of the old Roman settlement, and Castelpetroso, a medieval hamlet of the Norman age where you can visit the Shrine dell’Addolorata.
Where to ski in Abruzzo
In the Abruzzo region are many localities for skiers and snowboards. Starting with Roccaraso, in the province of L’Aquila, the biggest ski resort in central and southern Italy. This ski area consists of 160 kilometers of slopes and 38 ski lifts, with 30 kilometers of slopes for cross-country skiing, a snow-park with 3 lines of different difficulty and possibility of snow-kiting. The Roccaraso ski runs – divided in the areas of Aremogna, Monte Pratello and Monte Pizzalto – are directly connected to the ski lifts of Rivisondoli-Monte Pratello, Pescocostanzo and Pescasseroli, with one single skipass. Nearby are Hermitage of Madonna della Portella, Lake Barrea, Civitella Alfedena and the Camosciara natural area, in the heart of the Abruzzo National Park.
The Ovindoli-Monte Magnola area is another renowned ski resort 100 kilometers to north, in the Sirente-Velino Regional Park. There are 21 ski runs (7 for every difficulty level) on about 30 kilometers, suitable for Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, freestyle skiing, freeriding and snowkiting, with 11 ski lifts. Also available a snowpark (the Magnola Snow-Park and the Lower-park along the Dolce Vita slope) and loop tracks for cross-country skiing. In the surroundings are the Faito, Magnola, Serra di Celano, Sirente and Piani di Pezza mountains. In the hamlet of Piana dei Santi are the remains of a Roman imperial villa; in the village of Santa Jona and San Potito are medieval buildings, while in the center of Ovindoli the Church of St. Sebastian stands out.
The Ovindoli ski resort makes up the “Tre Nevi” ski area together with nearby Campo Felice (30 kilometers of slopes) and Campo Imperatore ski station: the “Skipass dei Parchi” seasonal and multi-day pass allows you to ski in all three areas (anyway at the moment not connected).
The sensational Campo Imperatore plateau lies in front of the Gran Sasso massif – the “roof” of the Apennines – seat of a well-known ski resort, the first created on the Apennines: the Centro Turistico del Gran Sasso. This ski area offers three ski lifts, 20 kilometers of slopes for Alpine skiing (with 10 slopes for any difficulty level), 60 kilometers of slopes for cross-country skiing and a snowpark for snowboarding and freeriding. The main lift is the “Funivia del Gran Sasso d’Italia”, that connects Fonte Cerreto Assergi to the western side of Campo Imperatore. There are many itineraries for ski mountaineering.
This area boasts some of Abruzzo’s most emblematic places: Rocca Calascio, the spectacular medieval fortress standing above the village of Calascio, and the quaint hamlets of Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Castel del Monte. Campo Imperatore is also a starting point for many hiking trails, first of all the hike to the peak of Gran Sasso, and horse-riding (among which the well-known Ippovia del Gran Sasso).
Where to ski in Lazio
The Terminillo ski resort is a historic ski destination (the ski station was born in the 1930s). It is on Mount Terminillo, a massif in the Reatini Mountains, 100 kilometers north-east of Rome. The area offers 40 kilometers for Alpine skiing, 4 ski lifts, 26 kilometers for cross-country skiing and 20 kilometers of tracks for Nordic skiing. Unique in all central Italy is the possibility to ski at night thanks to illuminated cross-country ski trails. Terminillo is also popular for trekking, climbing and mountaineering. There are plenty of places to visit: nearby is the amazing Benedictine Abbey of Sants Quirico and Giulitta, in Micigliano, the Franciscan sanctuary of Poggio Bustone, the medieval villages of Leonessa, Morro, Rivodutri, Cantalice and Posta (with Roman remains).
Where to ski in Emilia Romagna
Close to the Apennine pass with the same name, in the province of Pistoia, Abetone is a popular destination for winter tourism. The ski area includes 50 kilometers of slopes and 22 ski lifts, for beginners and expert skiers (14 easy slopes, 14 medium-difficulty slopes and 1 difficult slope), spread over three main areas (Val di Luce, Pulicchio, Le Regine-Sestaione). The resort also features 18 kilometers for Nordic skiing, a 8 kilometer-loop for cross-country skiing and two snow parks, the Gravity SnowPark in Pulicchio and the Snow Park Roccione in Val di Luce. Located within a natural reserve, Abetone is much visited also in the summer: there are indeed many opportunities for trekking, mountain-biking, rafting and sport fishing.