Ski Aosta Valley in North West Italy and you're close to both France and Switzerland for cross-border skiing, plus you can choose from a range of ski resorts and have access to three of the highest peaks in Europe. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Italy your essential guide for visiting Italy.
But dig a little deeper and you'll discover Italy's smallest region is also big on food, offers excellent hotels, comes good on many fine traditions and even has remarkable mountain vineyards.
The Ancient Romans conquered Aosta Valley in 25BC and fortified its peaks to control strategic mountain passes. Even today you can see the majestic ruins of their legacy across the region.
In its more recent history, Aosta only became part of Italy in 1821. Before that it belonged to Savoy, so Savoyard traditions play a large role in life here and most locals speak both French and Italian.
Although it's a modern resort in terms of facilities, you'll find several vintage hotels mixed in with newer apartment blocks and you can expect an authentic winter holiday atmosphere, as it's a favourite resort with Italians.
Despite the ski-village vibe, Breuil-Cervinia offers over 350km of terrain as well as cross-border skiing in Switzerland and Italy. Plus, its lift network accesses Plan Maison, Plateau Rosa and Zermatt - weather permitting.
Hotel Excelsior Planet is within easy walking distance of Breuil-Cervinia village centre and only 500m from the Plan Maison lift. Alternatively, if ski-in-ski-out is a deal breaker, think about booking Alpine Rooms Guesthouse.
Mellow Monterosa Ski links three valleys and offers over 180km of runs in a mix of blues, reds and blacks. The Passo dei Salati-Indren gondola accesses slopes at 3,275m, and the area's also known for its off-piste terrain and exceptional glade skiing.
A good all-rounder Monterosa has eight resorts in total, all pride themselves on a family-friendly atmosphere, as well as a range of on and off-mountain activities and a wide choice of restaurants.
Try Champoluc at 1,579m for its peaceful ambience, stunning views and varied skiing. Gressoney-La-Trinité is Champoluc's nearest neighbour and sits at 1,637m. Or there's pretty Alagna, just south of Monta Rosa at an altitude of 1,191m.
For a mix of luxury and an eco-friendly vibe, book CampZero in Champoluc. This laid-back resort covers après ski with an all-day bistro, Finnish sauna, hammam and lap pool. But also has indoor and outdoor climbing walls for more energetic guests.
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Courmayeur sits at 1,224m and is probably Aosta Valley's most famous resort, it certainly has the most dramatic landscape and a well-deserved reputation for extreme luxury in everything from après-ski to accommodation.
Popular with skiers from Milan, the resort offers over 100km of runs and a range of 14 peaks at altitudes of 4000m plus.
It's also linked to Chamonix by Mont Blanc Tunnel and accesses Vallée Blanche, the world's longest lift-served run. Both Skyway Monte Bianco and the Punta Helbronner 3,462m high viewpoint are easily reached from Courmayeur too.
To indulge fully in Courmayeur's spectacular views morning and evening, book Le Massif lux eco-resort with spa. Conveniently located for Courmayeur centre, Le Massif is also close to Mont Blanc, hence the amazing views.
Historic La Thuile is a traditional mountain town on the Aosta Valley's French border. It sits just beneath Mont Valaisan at an altitude of 1,450m and is part of the renownedEspace San Bernardo ski area.
Families and novice skiers like La Thuile for its gentle, north-facing slopes. However, a network of 35 lifts, over 150km of pistes rising to more than 2,600m, also appeals to more experienced skiers.
This is one of the best areas in the Aosta Valley for ski-touring and heli-skiing so it attracts a fair share of extreme winter sport enthusiasts. But if you want a different mood entirely, go visit the graceful Roman ruins in La Thuile town.
Book Montana Lodge & Spa for the pleasure of a luxury spa hotel with wonderful mountain views, just three minutes from La Thuile ski lifts. As well as convenience and soothing powers, Montana also has an indoor pool and charming alpine style bedrooms.
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