Breuil- Cervinia, Valle D’Aosta
Breuil-Cervinia is one of the best kept secrets of the Alps. Many of the locals and the dedicated tourists would like to keep it that way, when people find out the many sporting and leisure options there are in this town we are sure it will become as popular as some of its French Alp counterparts. Cervinia is rapidly becoming know for its freeride and freestyle drawing people of all ages to the hill. It’s virtually unknown that Cervinia dates back to 1936 with the construction of its first cable car and subsequent Hotels Gran Baita. The skiable mountain terrain rises up to an impressive 3480m making it one of Europe’s highest skiable areas boasting a well maintained and looked after glacier ski site; Not only that but you can’t argue with Italian hospitality, local cuisine and culture.
We couldn’t mention Cervinia without Mentioning it’s Swiss neighbour of Zermatt. What makes Cervinia all the more appealing is the added extra of being able to ski over into Zermatt. The skiing in this traditional alpine heaven could take a fast skier a good few days, offering something for confident beginners, intermediates or advanced skiers, not even touching on the world famous freeride zone. You can live the high life on the Swiss side during the day, with your Rosti and over priced beer and strudel then return to Cervinia in the afternoon to enjoy a dinner of locally cured meats and cheese, internationally acclaimed wines and the warm Italian embrace.
Cervinia and the Tourist industry in the local area and increased ten fold in the last few years, particularly from 2010 onwards, the main markets are between the British and the Scandinavians; for example the average weekly input of British guests had peaked at around 280 customers and now reaches a dizzying 350 PW, The Swedish for instance had around 200 PW and now enjoy up to 300 guests PW. This does not include private bookings and only stats from one tourist group from one country, not mentioning the smaller tour operators. The advertisement in trusted Nordic and British publications such at Frifly magazine and The Ski and Board mag have helped shape the way many think about Cervinia now as a must visit destination.
Luckily with Cervinia being a part of the Association of the Valle D’ Aosta and the Zermatt Valais area, the lift pass options truly are endless. Whether you want to maximise your time to the fullest extent with a taste of the Aosta Valley, Switzerland and France’s La Rosiere as an option or stay local enjoying the best piste skiing of your life in Pila, for example, and take in the area of Cervinia and Valtoureneche then this is all possible. Depending on your budget then you can potentially ski three countries, perhaps your first couple of days in Cervinia, then explore Zermatt and later drive to La Thuile down the valley and pop over into France for the afternoon before heading back in Cervinia in time for tea. However regardless of what pass you go for, people don’t always realise you have two very lovely sub areas also available; Valtournenche and Torgnon. The two sub areas offer peace and quiet, virtually empty piste and even cheaper mountain prices than Cervinia. To make things simple, when heading into the lift pass office, think- Big ski pass or smaller, Swiss and Italian or just Italian.
If we are talking Cervinia Specifically then there is still plenty to do, some tourists think that there are only a few connecting runs on the Italian side and the best skiing is in Zermatt, but again, lets keep it a secret that Cervinia is more quiet, has better maintained piste and better food any how. As is mentioned above, you also have full access to the Sub Resort of Valtournenche which is home to a Michelin Guide mentioned Restaurant, one of Europes longest pistes and total tranquillity. In Cervinia there are 15 ski lifts and 46 slopes just here in Italy, starting at 2050m up to the Italian Peak of Plateau Rosa at 3899m. Cervinia Boasts the home of one of Europe’s most advanced and sophisticated lift systems with the addition of the Cime Bianche- Plateau Rosa Cable car. This cable car is super speedy and efficient giving you rapid access to the Swiss side and the ample Glacier skiing summer and winter. Not only that in recent years there have been advancments to the Pan Cheron Chair lift and this year new fitting onto the foot rests on the Bontadini chair lift, showing us that the work is being done to ensure the Mountain is the best it can be.
The piste system in Italy is known around the world, particularly in the Valle D’Aosta for being very leisurely skiing indeed. Even the hardest reds and steepest Blacks are a pleasure to ski in Cervinia, especially on a morning when they are freshly groomed; other than on the weekends and in peak season, the Piste are a treat. We couldn’t talk about the Piste in Cervinia without mentioning the famous Ventina Run. From the very top to the very bottom in Valtournenche this run stretches for a colossal 11km, only broken up by what seems like the worlds shortest chairlift, lasting only 30seconds. This run is an intermediates to advanced skiers dream, its steep in parts and it winds gently down to mountain until your legs come to a well deserved stop at the bottom cable car in Valtourneche. Not only Ventina but a popular set of runs among the locals are Red 29, when its not being used to race training, Black 12, 59 and 62 are all favourite as they are generally very quiet, well groomed and challenging. The are some must do runs.
Eating on the Slopes
This is a very important aspect of a holiday in Italy, let alone Cervinia where eating on the slopes is the biggest game there is. We have some big players in the restaurant world right on our door step which makes trying to save money and not living the Dolce Vita, very difficult indeed. First up a must mention is Chalet Etoile whom for over 4years has been offering innovation through their food, if you want to live the true Italian Dolce Vita with a Swedish twist this is the place. next up on the top recommendation list is Foyer Des Guides which is situated in lower Valtounenche his producing Michelin standard food to an ever increasing cliental base, its specialises in cuisine of the Valley and champions locals produce. These are two more pricey recommendations, perhaps for a more friendly and affordable option try Bontadini Restaurent, La Pousset and Linos. In the average lunch gaff on the mountain you should be prepared to spend 6/9 euros for a dish of pasta, 10/12 for a pizza, 6 for a panini and for a beer 5 and a glass of vino 3.
Despite what people may have heard, Cervinia is surprisingly home to a few very good Apres Bars. Bars that are generally good any day of the week. Because there are only a few it means that the bars are often busy with locals and tourists alike making for the kind of atmosphere you could look forward to in Austria. First up we have the Principe Delle Neve which is on red run 3; This bar has lovely staff, a beautiful sun terrace and if you are feeling free enough they encourage you to dance on the bar. We also have Plan Torette which is on Red run 3 directly as you disembark the Cretaz lift, this Is where one should start their apres afternoon; Plan Torette has another beautiful sun soaked decking area, they often play music nice and loud so plenty of dancing at atmosphere- they regularly hold parties on the piste too. Linos on the bottom on Cretaz is another good option for all the family, ice skating for the kids, a mini job part for the teens and sun loungers for the mums and dads, Linos is also home to the odd rocking apres party when the tourists come to town. If you want to play it more chilled out, one wonderful spot is the tea rooms names Samovar; sit next to the roaring fire and sample an array of teas or local wines with the traditional Italian Aperitivo which is the snacks that accompany the drinks, they are the best in town here at Samovar.
Freeride in Cervinia
Because Cervinia has been known as a family resort it has never attracted many freeriders. This means for the few of them that are there the lines stay untouched and there are achres of terrain waited to be explored. the beauty of Cervinia is that so much land is very easily accessible by the chair lifts that is easy and great fun. If you are an experienced freerider and you are willing to put the effort in, with just a few short hikes and touring expeditions, you can get to some legitimate backcountry that will changed your mind into thinking Italy is the place to be. I recommend heading out with a guides to explore the runs around the Glacier, with your equipment in tow and very little walking involved you have a world of powder to ride. Although the Pan Cheron Lift if an avalanche risk zone, if you are experienced and have the knowledge, the runs that are accessed by hiking around the Matterhorn Basin are not to be missed.
Ski Patrol and Mountain Rescue:
Emergency- Call 112
Non Emergency- 0039- 0166944311