Madonna di Campiglio, Italy Ski Resorts
Madonna di Campiglio, Italy Ski Resort Review
It may not have the height advantages of Livigno, or quite as breathtaking a backdrop like Cortina, but Madonna di Campiglio is in a league of its own when it concerns flaunting style on the ski slopes. The ski resort draws in almost exclusively Italian holidaymakers - a lot of them more occupied in the posing and promenading than the pistes themselves. Indeed, Campiglio (the preferred abbreviation 'Madonna' is a somewhat strong swearword in Italy) can often feel like the Monaco of the Italian ski circuit, and most of the time in the month of January each year, when Ferrari holds an international press conference in town to present its drivers for the coming year.
On a regular basis though, Campiglio's cosmopolitan style can be seen showcased in the number of swanky fashion boutiques, four-star hotels and high-class restaurants in the blissfully “pedestrianised” town center. Prices are higher than you could expect, but then this is not a resort geared towards young hell-raisers on a beer budget; indeed, the nightlife is far from generally hedonistic (though anything tends to go at the out-of-town Zangola club). Campiglio is appropriate for beginners and young families: the slopes, like the clubs, are seldom chaotic, almost one-half of them leisurely blues and all brilliantly maintained by a first-class system of grooming and several hundred snow blowers.
Being a ski beginners' paradise, Madonna di Campiglio has plenty of long, laid-back blues that even complete newbies should be comfortable cruising by the end of the week. To get warmed up, ride the free shuttle bus to Campo Carlo Magno, where a good selection of non-threatening nursery slopes help take the edge off. And soon enough, you'll be ready for the big time, and it doesn't get any bigger than the network of winding blue runs that go from the peak of Passo Groste (2,505m; accessed through the Groste gondola at the far end of town), climaxing in the Pozza Vecia piste to Campiglio - although look out for crowds during peak season, as this is among the more popular runs. The same epic adventures await at the top of the Pradalago on the other side of the valley: novices can take the Pradalago Facile from top to town, with wonderful sweeping views across the jagged Brenta peaks.
Skiing intermediates are every bit spoilt for choice, although a safe bet is to unpack and head straight for Pancugolo, the mountain most usually pegged for international competitions, where some long, challenging reds cut a somewhat straight line back to the valley. Those on Groste, including the Spinale Diretta red, are a bit more winding, take a little longer and boast some really gorgeous tree cover on the lower third, but once more, watch out for peak season jamming. The red and blue slopes at Marilleva and Folgarida tend to be the most tranquil, although access to both includes some tricky piste negotiation from Pradalago. For more advanced skiers, nevertheless, it's a journey worth making: the most cursory glimpse at the Campiglio piste map will leave experts with less doubt as to the lack of challenging runs in the area and two of the best - the Pista Nera mogul field and the Orti/Marivella black - are above Folgaride and Marivella respectively. Otherwise, notable black runs include the hairy Spinale Direttissima (from the top of Monte Spinale) and the 3-Tre racetrack which is utilized for the annual World Cup. Apart from that, it's a case of heading off-piste (booking a mountain guide is recommended).
Restaurants and Bars
Your ski holiday week in Campiglio would not be complete without at least one snowcat ride up the slopes for dinner in one of the ski resort's svelte mountain restaurants. Among the best of these is Cascina Zeledria in Campo Carlo Magno, which dishes up a range of food you cook yourself on hot stones, as well as regional dishes and some delicious valley wines. Other huts worthy of sit-down dinners include the Malga Montagnoli on the lower part of the Groste, the Malga Ritorto and the Boch, although anybody looking for a quick bite and a beer over lunch would do just as well to snatch a burger at the Graffer and also on the Groste.
Campiglio's abundance of long and laid-back blue and red runs has constantly been popular with snowboarders, making it one of Italy's prime boarding destinations and resulting in the creation of the first terrain park around two decades ago. The Ursus snowboard park came about by the Groste lift, a genuinely first-class endeavor with a range of kickers and rails divide into beginner, intermediate and advanced arenas, and with a 100m half-pipe and professional quarter-pipe both well managed by the local team.
There's more to off-slope entertainment in Campiglio compared to window shopping: numerous seasonal activities cater to snow cadets of all ages, one of the most memorable being ice-skating on the frozen lake in town or at the artificial rink in nearby Pinzolo. Alternatively, for animal tricks having a winter twist, saddle up the huskies and head off dog-sledding in the great wide open; not as easy as you might think, but fortunately there are trained professionals whose 'mush' works when yours has no effect. For similar adventures with a better view, the Val Rendena Riding School organizes snowbound horseback treks through a variety of routes.
When it comes to gastronomy, Madonna doesn't beat around the bush, pushing regional cuisine to an international degree of excellence. Nowhere is this more true than Da Alfiero, where the rustic interior contradicts an incredible modern menu, or Artini, the owner of which also runs the Zeledria in Campo Carlo Magno. A little farther out of town, Mildas is the place to go for more obscure Trentino specialities like gnocchi, dumplings and modena zampone (stuffed pig's trotters), while the scenic Hermitage Biohotel serves all-natural dishes in a warm, cozy setting and features one of the finest wine cellars in the valley. Meantime, cheaper local cuisine can be tried out at Lantana d'Oro, and there are good pizzas to be had at both Antico Focolare and the excellent Le Roi.
Once the lifts close down, most skiers go to La Stube di Franz Joseph or the Bar Suisse for aperitifs. The latter, home to a well-heeled 1930s lounge bar, gets particularly jammed: for a more relaxed surroundings try Cafe Campiglio, also in the town center. Farther out of town in Campo Carlo Magno, La Stalla offers karaoke. Later in the evening, more harmonious live sounds can be discovered at the upmarket Cliffhanger club, although a more wide-ranging program of events is offered in Des Alpes, from the conventional disco dance floor to the more elegant piano bar, with occasional cabaret in the restored Habsburg ballroom - especially throughout the Carnival. None of these comes cheap, nor is it exactly hedonism incarnate: serious weekenders are alternatively advised to take a taxi to the legendary club Zangola, which actually means 'butter churn', 3km out of town and befittingly housed in an old cattle market. Here you'll find lewd and lascivious conduct on a regular basis, and by when the lights go on the lifts running back in town. If you rush out, you might even get first tracks.
Accommodations in Madonna di Campiglio
To be at par with its sophisticated image, Campiglio has almost as many hotels with four stars as it does with three: one of the best is the Hermitage Biohotel, where wonderful rooms provide a view to the Brenta mountain range, and there's an excellent health center to boot. For utmost convenience, the central location of the four-star Spinale is hard to beat, although those willing to stay a little farther away from the town center ought to look into the Carlo Magno Zeledria.
In Pinzolo, at the other end of the valley, the Olympic Palace Hotel is a four-star that's classy and comfortable, featuring a charming piano bar, friendly staff and free rides into Campiglio each morning. Decent three-star places in the town center include the Hotel Diana and the Milano.
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