Ski Resort Review: Bormio, Italy
Ski Destinations in Italy: Bormio
A lot of people would agree that Bormio is among the most beautiful ski resorts in the world - indeed its historical status as a medieval spa town makes the term 'resort' meaningless - but it is also one of the most frustrating.
The slopes are limited -inconveniently split in two separate areas on opposite sides of town - and no snowboard park. Poor snow cover on the lower mountains leads to queues for the return leg. Bormio's attractions are more aesthetic than athletic, and the town will most appeal to first-timers and families looking to do as much culture as serious carving.
The focus of Bormio's skiing is the network of red and blue runs leading north-west back to town from Cima Bianca (3,010m), and accessed by the new gondola going from town via Bormio 2000. The most famous of these - the Pista Stelvio - is closed off for yearly competitions, but when accessible forms a steep, long red with good views all over. A lot of the reds here are steeper than normal, and their upper exposure allows winds to whip them into icy trails closer to black runs.
There's also a long blue run leading all the way from Cima Bianca back to town (through a short stretch of red at Ciuk, 1,620m), although again the first leg is far from child's play in poor conditions. Novices are better off on the slopes at Valdidentro, a short bus ride out of town but all the quieter for it, with a range of far less daunting red and blue runs accessed by lifts at Oga (1,535m) and Le Motte (1,430m).
Experts, however, are less well served: Bormio's handful of token black runs are just that. A fair quantity of off-piste opens up in good conditions, but advanced skiers looking for a variety of challenging slopes will be better off elsewhere.
The biggest on-hill buzz is generated by La Rocca, a bustling hut on the main run down from Cima Bianca serving a world-class bombardino. The Cedrone is less atmospheric but every bit less hectic, with terraced seating. The Baita de Mario at Ciuk is also well worth a punt, having plenty of outdoor seating and a good kids' menu.
There's no terrain park in Bormio, nor are the pistes especially well suited to advanced snowboarders.
The old town is a clutter of cobbled streets and ancient squares; guided tours leave from the Piazza Cavour. A 3km journey by bus or taxi leads to the Bagni Vecchi, Roman and medieval baths open to the public and providing a huge range of on-site treatments.
Kuerc, in the Cavour Piazza, is renowned for its bresaola, while the cavernous II Filo has an excellent selection of wines. Less stylish but cheap and cheerful is Vecchia Combo, and there are also several pizzerias around town - the Cristall being one of the best.
Bormio isn't a resort renowned for its nightlife, but that doesn't mean everybody is in bed by 10pm. If the King's Club is anything to go by, 10pm is when most people get up: the place tends to be pretty quiet before 11pm, but in high season ends up surging with locals and tourists alike until the early hours. The Clem Pub has pool and football tables, while the Shangri La is a good spot for upbeat tunes and early evening cocktails. Cafe Mozart and the Aurora are two more peaceful places to jumpstart an evening in Bormio.
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