Madesimo is a charming Italian ski resort about 150 kilometres north of Milan, near the Swiss border. Madesimo offers more than just skiiing, there are also lots of trails to explore on a snow mobile and you can even do ice driving courses too.
The resort is famous for its 3 kilometre-long black run, il Canalone but, as the kind of skier who likes pottering about and admiring the view, I went nowhere near that particular run on my visit. While other more experienced skiers in my group enjoyed whizzing down it, I stuck to the blue slopes, braving an occasional red when my patient guide Andrea from the Madesimo ski school could persuade me.
60 kilometres of Runs
There are around 60 kilometres of varied ski slopes in Madesimo, and with lifts reaching altitudes of up to 2,880 metres above sea level, the resort is well-placed for good snow coverage.
70 kilometres of Trails to Explore by Snow Mobile
Besides skiing and snowboarding, winter visitors can hire snow mobiles to explore the 70 kilometres of trails. I drove a snow mobile for the first time there and, although I enjoyed the experience and found it exhilarating, I was surprised at how physically tiring it was. My snow mobile trip was at night, which meant I really had to concentrate to follow the trail, although the machines do have headlights.
Go on An Ice Driving Course
Another option is to take an ice driving course on the new track above town. I tried a few circuits in a specially adapted BMW with Omar, the chief instructor, and loved the experience, even though I’d been nervous about it to start with. Omar told me to accelerate hard when cornering and never to brake, which was counter-intuitive but worked.
Madesimo – the Town
The town itself is a friendly mixture of traditional and modern buildings. It offers a range of accommodation from 4-star hotels to self-catering apartments to mountain refuges.
I stayed in the 4-star Hotel Andossi two minutes walk from the ski hire shop and chair lift. Although I found my room a little dark and dated, many of the rooms are light and airy and the facilities are good. The family-run hotel offers guests the use of its spa, sauna, indoor pool and evening childcare and is next to il Cantinone, a one-star Michelin restaurant serving delicious, locally-sourced food.
Other excellent places to eat are both Acquarela and Ristoro Larici on the ski slopes. Both are great for skiers’ lunches and Larici even has a wood-fired pizza oven.
For something a little different, la Dogana Vegia restaurant is in the old Custom house above the town and is a cosy, traditional place where there’s always a log fire burning. Dario, the genial owner and chef, invited us to write on his wall so that he could remember us, before offering us a flaming grolla – a traditional drinking cup with several spouts for sharing a powerful mixture of grappa, coffee and spices.
I stayed in Madesimo as a guest of the local tourist office www.visitmadesimo.it
Momentum Ski www.momentumski.com offer tailor-made Madesimo packages.
By Gretta Schifano
Gretta’s a travel writer who’s lived and worked in Italy. She shares her experiences on her blog www.mumsdotravel.com
Alex Roe, Italy Chronicles’ publisher has skiied at Madesimo a couple of times and he liked it a lot. He advises you to beware of the il Canalone black run, unless your skiing skills are up to scratch!