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A stylish Italian resort

Madonna di Campiglio

If you like your skiing to be fun but not too challenging and you want to sample some of the best that Italy has to offer in terms of alpine scenery, you owe it to yourself to check out Madonna di Campiglio.
Beginners and intermediates will love the skiing here, and there’s plenty of Italian pizza to go alongside it – wander around the pleasant town centre after a day on the slopes and you’ll see enough fur and jewellery on display to grace a Parisian catwalk. You can be sure the owners have not been tearing up the slopes earlier in the day, rather idling over coffee and cakes in a chi-chi café. However, whilst this kind of clientele may make the people watching more colourful they do also have the unfortunate effect of helping push up prices in the town, such that this is not the ideal place for budget skiers.
The resort
Lift accessed skiing in Madonna di Campiglio dates back over 70 years to the installation of the resort’s first chair lift in 1935. Needless to say things are considerably more efficient and high tech these days, and lift queues are only likely to occur at busy weekends and holidays.
The town has a fashionable air and is a kind of low-key version of better-known Cortina, whilst its traditional alpine looks of the resort go well with its setting in a broad valley complete with frozen lake, above which are forests rising into open alpine terrain and impressively rugged mountains. The ski runs snake down from the mountains through the trees and back into town and the main lifts are all within easy reach of the town centre, although the resort does straggle along the valley somewhat. That said there’s also as good free ski bus service linking the region. If there isn’t enough skiing to occupy you in Madonna di Campiglio alone you also have the option of links to the smaller resorts of Marilleva, a not especially attractive settlement of 1960s concrete apartment blocks, Folgarida, a family friendly spot above the Val di Sole and Pinzolo to the south-west, which is the best of the three.

The skiing
Renowned for the impeccable quality of its piste grooming and the preponderance of beginner and intermediate runs, Madonna di Campiglio is the kind of place that will massage your ski ego at the same time as providing great pistes on which to develop your technique.
It’s also located beneath some wonderfully scenic mountains, of which the Monte Spinale/Grosté area above the tree line to the east of the town stands out. Over it loom the huge and impressive granite cliffs of Pietra Grande, which dwarf the skiers below – the Graffer blue run starting at the top of 2,504-metre Grosté links in with other blues lower down the mountain to take you on a long, undemanding but exhilarating run all the way back into town.
Another great attraction for intermediate skiers is the opportunity to get out and explore on your skis. Beside the above mentioned Monte Spinale/Grosté area, there are two other fine ski areas accessible from the town, Cinque Laghi and Pradalago, both of which have plenty of long blue and red tree lined cruisers. All three areas are linked at valley level and from the latter two you can explore the above mentioned Marilleva and Folgarida areas, where yet again more long, wide cruisers provide fine open skiing down into blue shadowed tree-lined slopes. The Pinzolo area is about to become accessible via a new gondola from the Cinque Laghi – here you’ll find a nice selection of steep red and black runs and generally good snow conditions.
Beginners will find that Madonna di Campiglio offers a great introduction to the sport – not only does it provide all the character and atmosphere of a classic alpine resort, it also has some excellent learner slopes at Campo Carlo Magno, and quickly you’ll find around half of Madonna’s runs accessible to you, some several kilometres in length, and unlike many resorts novices in their first week can access the top levels of all lifts and find a way down that isn’t too demanding. It’s only when it comes to tougher skiing options that Madonna doesn’t really deliver the goods. There are only a handful of challenging black runs, of which the most exciting are the steep but short Canelone Miramonti just above town and the longer Spinale Diretissima, whilst the best off-piste is amongst the trees beneath the Genziana chair.
Bear in mind that off-piste skiing in Italy is officially allowed but you may find yourself being pursued by the local carabinieri if your practice is regarded as potentially dangerous in terms of avalanche risks.
New from december 2011:
- Pinzolo Campiglio Express, that's the new gondola lift linking Madonna di Campiglio to the nearby town of Pinzolo
- The new slope DoloMitica, the longest (5,750m long) and greatest run of the domain, offering 3,5 km (with a gradient of 36%) to the expert skiers and 6 km (with a gentler gradient of 20%) to the beginners with its Tour alternative route
- The new ski area Campiglio Val Rendena Val di Sole: 150km of pistes in the heart of the Brenta Dolomites - Unesco World Natural Heritage
Off the slopes
There’s a reasonable choice of traditional winter sports options available locally including skating on the lake, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding and ice climbing, along with snowshoeing on trails through the forests and lower slopes of the mountains.
Eating out and nightlife
There are some good options on the slopes, including the Stoppani restaurant on Grosté which offers fabulous views and excellent pasta, and the picturesque Cascina Zeledria on Pradalago where you can cook your own lunch and then be towed back to the slopes on your skis behind a snowmobile! Back in town good options include the cheerful Ristorante Le Roi for pizzas and pasta and the high end Da Alfiero which rarely fails to get favourable reviews.
The town is busy immediately after the lifts close at spots such as Bar Suisse and Café Nardis but things really kick off after midnight when Des Alpes Mood Bar in town competes with the infamous Zangola Clubbing three km out of town which only closes a few hours before the lifts reopen.
Where to stay?
Check the holiday rentals in Madonna di Campiglio. Or an excellent upmarket option is the Hotel Carlo Magno, a four-star family owned establishment with a wellness centre and gourmet restaurant. For mid-priced accommodation, try the St. Hubertus which is conveniently located in the centre of town and often offers good value skier packages, or the rustic and friendly Hotel Arnica, only a hundred metres from the lifts. At the budget end the Brendena Chalet B&B is a good value option with panoramic views in a quiet setting some 12km outside town, with good connections to the regular free ski bus. 
Getting there and figures
Nearest airports: Bergamo (4hrs) Verona (3hrs), Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate (5hrs)
Nearest train station: Trento (70km)
Road: On the SS239 south from the SS42 Bolzano – Bergamo road

Resort elevation: 1,520 metres
Top elevation: 2,505 metres
Base elevation 800 metres
Number of lifts: 62
Total runs: 150km
Number of snowparks: 5
Snowmaking: 95 %
Madonna di Campiglio
For even more information, visit resort guide and find out about snowfalls, ski passes...
Text: Alf Alderson
Pictures: Madonna di Campiglio Pinzolo Val Rendena Tourist Board
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