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Head South for Snow

by Elena Guarneri last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

If you think all skiing stops in the Alps then this is the article for you. We travel south along the Apennines and discover ski resorts a stone's throw from the sea . . .

Head South for Snow Want to go skiing this Christmas or New Year? Why don't you head for some of the great resorts in Central and Southern Italy? Because there's snow beyond the Alps and there's more to the South than sun and sea. So wax down your skis and slip on your snow boots as we make our way towards the Apennines.

Our first stop on our journey down Italy is in Tuscany at Abetone and Monte Amiata. The former is one the border with Emilia and has a distinct Emilian flavour. It boasts 27 ski lifts and 2 ski schools. The slopes are at 1,700 above sea level and there are 5 mountain inns where you warm or fill up on the way down. Monte Amiata is a 1,738 metre-high rocky mass between the Maremma and Chianti areas. On a clear day skiers can see lakes Bolsena and Trasimeno, the Umbran hills, and, if you're really lucky, the eternal city - Rome. Rifugio Cantore, beside Pian della Marsiliana at 1,428 metres is an ideal place for a pit stop.

Talking about Rome . . .
If you're visiting the capital but can't resist the call of the mountains then Monte Terminillo - just 20 km from Rieti - is the place for you. A haven for Roman skiers, downhill enthusiasts will love the 600 metre drops over 40 km of runs. There are also 18 kms of runs for cross-country fans at Cinque Confini. Guests at the Piccola Baita Hotel can step from the hotel onto the Togo run and look forward to a Finnish sauna before a mount-watering meal on their return.

Abruzzo forever
Roccaraso, in Abruzzo, is a favourite with Neapolitan skiers. It's a well-organised resort with a good selection of hotels and restaurants, situated in the Alto Sangro area, between Abruzzo National Park and Majella Park. Improve on your style by booking lessons at the Roccanaso-Aremogna Ski School and launch yourself onto the 120 kms of runs, all for the price of one ski-pass.

Skiing on fire
If you have the time and patience to go the extra mile then cross the Straits of Messina and make your way towards Mount Etna. It's out of the way and some of the lifts were destroyed during last summer's eruption, but believe us, it is well worth the effort. Its excellent value as well - a one-day ski-pass costs around 13 Euros - and there are few places in the world that afford sea views as you swoosh down the slopes, all within easy reach of Taormina, Catania and Giardini Naxos.

Before leaving . . .

Don't forget to listen to the weather and snow reports (snow has been plentiful in the last few years, but you never know . . . ) And if all else fails remember that in Italy there's always somewhere new to visit, or an old friend to rediscover.

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