It’s Winter and the snow is here! One of the best places to go skiing in the Piedmont area of Italy is called the Via Lattea (Milky Way) ski field. It covers very large area and offers around 400 km (250 miles) of ski runs for all levels. It has entrances at five different villages on the Italian side of the border, and one on the French side. If you want to, you can feasibly ski backward and forward between Italy and France throughout the day. Sauze d’Oulx is one of the easiest resorts to reach from Turin or Milan by car, or a train and bus combination. There is a train that leaves every hour during the day from both cities to Oulx, and a free bus that leaves numerous times a day from the Oulx railway station that takes you on a 15 minute ride up the mountain to Sauze d’Oulx, perched 1500 meters (5000 feet) above the valley floor.
Once you are in Sauze d’Oulx, you have the choice of three different chair-lifts that whisk you further up the mountain to Sportinia, the restaurant area on the ski-fields, lying in the sun at 2000 m (6500 feet). There are various ski rental shops in Sauze that can kit you out for your day in the snow. All you need are some warm clothes!
Osvaldo Perron (seen on the left in the photo below) is a ski teacher who works from one of the two ski schools based in Sportinia. Osvaldo has been teaching my children to ski every Winter for the last few years. When my husband was a child, Osvaldo also taught him to ski, so I can attest first-hand that he has years of experience as a ski teacher! If you are a child or adult beginner, or just need a little extra coaching, both ski schools can give you very good private or group lessons in skiing or snowboarding. All the ski instructors I have met speak Italian, English and French, so there is no need to worry about communicating while learning to stand on your skis or snowboard.
Outside of weekends and Italian school holiday time, if you are lucky, you can have the ski runs nearly to yourself, as can be seen in the photos below. My husband’s only complaint was that his legs hurt as there was no time to rest as there was no wait for the ski-lifts or for space on the runs!
On a clear day, the views from the top of the mountains are astoundingly beautiful. You are surrounded by peaks in every direction you look.
On a sunny day, whether you ski or not, Sportinia is a wonderful place to take a chairlift ride to. You can sunbathe on the deck-chairs provided outside all the restaurants with a cappuccino and buttery brioche in hand. When you get hungry choose a restaurant to enjoy a hearty lunch of local mountain fare, followed by a piping hot espresso, or a bombardino, a heady concoction of hot Avocaat, brandy and whipped cream.
If you have had enough of slipping on skis, you can hire a sled and schuss down one of the two toboggan runs in the area instead. There is one at the base of the ski lift in the village of Sauze d’Oulx, and one in the village of Jouvenceaux, a little farther down the mountain.
A day spent in the Italian alps is the perfect antidote to city life. For all ski rental, snow forecast and ski school information, you can go to https://www.sauzeonline.com/. Happy skiing!
Lisa Watson is a writer who grew up on a sheep farm in New Zealand and now lives in France. She has a love of cooking, particularly Italian cuisine. Follow her on her blog, Italian Kiwi and also on Twitter, FaceBook, and Instagram.
Concierge tip: Did you know that you can access several great ski resorts including the one above in less than three hours (by car) from Milan? Combine a trip to the mountains with an exciting shopping break in the Italian capital of fashion by booking a stay at the Baglioni Hotel Carlton located right in the heart of the shopping district.