Italian land and nature: Livigno, Bormio and the Valtelline Valley
- WTI Magazine #113 Mar 15, 2019
A year-round ski destination (thanks to Stelvio's awesome slopes), Valtellina is located in the heart of the Alps of Lombardy, and is known for the intense beauty of its mountain landscapes, as well as for being a beloved winter sports destination. At the same time it preserves traces of the historic testimonies that, notwithstanding the passage of time, have maintained their charm entirely intact. The legacy of Valtellina lives on today, from village to village, valley to valley.
Stelvio, also known as the "University of Ski": from May to November it hosts some of the best ski champions as they train – as in summer, those passionate for the sport cannot but continue to enjoy its still-snowy runs.
The "Skiarea Valtellina" is made up of four large ski areas – Alta Valtellina, Aprica, Valmalenco and Valchiavenna – and boasts localities of international fame, i.e. Livigno, Bormio, Santa Caterina Valfurva, Madesimo, Chiesa Valmalenco, Aprica and Valgerola. All of these together make for over 248 miles of slopes.
And for snowboard enthusiasts, there is no lack of equipped courses where they can practice their sport; the same goes for cross-country skiers, who have at their disposal more than 124 miles of track.
Of course there is much more to do than merely ski. Mountain bikers have an immense expanse of valleys to cross, where they can discover historic itineraries in the company of the gorgeous natural surroundings. Trekkers can challenge the ups-and-downs of these commanding mountains, as can mountaineers and climbers, while the creeks and rifts shaped by flowing waters welcome canyoneers and rafters. Obviously, those who prefer a vacation filled with sport will love experimenting all that Valtellina has to offer. The ice rinks of Bormio and Chiavenna, and the numerous natural ice rinks are perfect for both beginning and experienced skaters. Meanwhile, the Husky Village of Valdidentro allows adults and children alike to experience the excitement of dog sledding.
One of Italy’s northernmost communities, where temperatures match those of the poles in wintertime, is Livigno. Countless tourists dream of going to Livigno for the ideal vacation on the snow, marked by fun and adventurous activity. Ski structures are excellent in this area, and the high altitudes (the center of the inhabited zone lies at 5,958 feet above sea level, the ski slopes up to 9,186 feet) guarantee optimum snow characteristics in and around Livigno. Livigno is also known as "Little Tibet" for its geomorphological traits: they are in part similar to those of the Himalayas, due to the fact that Livigno lies on a plateau circumscribed by the mountains that stand at the core of the Rhaetian Alps.
The summer season also sees plenty of vacationers, here to benefit from the duty-free shopping or to escape the swarmy heat of the city, as the mountains provide a cool, fresh respite from those sweltering and muggy conditions.
Situated in the National Park of Stelvio, Bormio is another tourist hotspot in both winter and summer; it also played host to the BIS Alpine World Ski Championships in 1985 and 2005. Yet Bormio is not only known for skiing but also for its terme or thermal baths, well-known since Roman times. The thermal spa baths here are three: the Terme di Bormio, Bagni Nuovi, and Bagni Vecchi, which can be found in Premadio, part of the Commune of Valdidentro.
Madesimo is yet another much-loved site for winter sports activity, offering approximately 37 miles of slopes, and several cross-country skiing, snowmobile and kite boarding runs. Additionally, the European Cup races take place in the ski district of Madesimo. Particularly in Motta (Commune of Campodolcino) and Montalto, where respectively special (i.e. hybrid) slalom and gigantic slalom contests are held. Beyond this, the SkiArea of Valchiavenna even allows nocturnal skiing, thanks to the efficient lighting on the “Pianello/Montalto” course until 11 PM every evening.
Finally, an active ski resort in terms both Nordic and Alpine, Santa Caterina Valfurva (with its 22 miles of slopes) has been the venue for various stops along the Alpine and Nordic Ski World Cup routes, in addition to the World Cup Cross-Country Ski Races and the womens' competitions in the Alpine Ski World cup of 1985 and 2005. The most famous of the many slopes here is the “Deborah Compagnoni,” the descent named for the Female World Champ of Santa Caterina.