My new year resolution was to keep this blog regularly updated as after last Summer I found myself a bit overloaded with juggling work and the neverending Italian school holidays that are just way too long in my opinion! As a working mother, trying to organise your kids for 2.5 months can get very challenging and also expensive if you don’t have any relatives to help out. My magazine has also been keeping me very busy and is now a bimonthly issue which means that the printed issue has a much nicer presentation now. The January February issue is out now and below is an article that I wrote about skiing in Tuscany which I experienced for the first time a few weeks ago. It was the first time our boys had seen the snow and the weekend was a huge success. We stayed in Val di Luce and I loved how easy it was to hire skis and then access the slopes. We organised a ski lesson for Matteo, our six-year-old and he really loved it. On our last day, we didn’t ski and as we also have a three-year-old, Thomas decided to catch the chair-lift up to the ‘Rifugio’ (bar/restaurant) for lunch and as it was such a beautiful day, it was very pleasant to sit outside basking in the sun while the boys attempted to build a snowman!
Tuscany is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of skiing in Italy but it may surprise you to know that located a short distance from the famous cities of Florence, Lucca, Siena, and Pisa, you can find one of the most renowned ski destinations in central Italy.
Abetone is in northern Tuscany, in the province of Pistoia and is home to one of the most important ski resorts in the Apennines. It offers fifty kilometers of ski slopes for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and walking trails for snowshoes. There are ski slopes for every level of experience, perfectly divided into blue (for beginners), red (intermediate) and black (for expert), the ski slopes of the ski resort are ideal for both training and fun. Moreover, snow is always guaranteed by an artificial snow system which covers 80% of the area.
Access to the slopes is provided by the most modern and efficient ski lifts, while along the slopes you can find typical restaurants where you can stop to eat, take a break and enjoy the stunning scenery.
Abetone was created as a custom post on the main road from the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and the Duchy of Modena, founded in 1732. The name derives from that of a large tree cut down to allow the construction to proceed.
Abetone was a destination for elite tourism, especially after the opening of the new railway line, La Porrettana. Starting from the early 20th century, it became a renowned skiing resort. Zeno Colò, one of the greatest Italian alpine skiers was born here in 1920. At the World Championships in 1950 in Aspen, he won gold medals in both downhill and giant slalom, and the silver in slalom.Two years later, at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, he won gold in the downhill and finished fourth in the giant slalom.
After his retirement from professional skiing, Colò became a ski instructor in his native Abetone, helping to develop the Pistoia ski resort and promote the Abetone Ski Company. In 1973, he designed three ski slopes that descend from the Gomito mountain, named Zeno 1, 2, and 3.
Abetone is a regular destination for European cup competitions and has also hosted world cups in recent years.
The Apennines are home to many modern ski resorts from the bigger area of Abetone Val di Luce and Monte Amiata, to the smaller resorts of Garfagnana and Zum Zeri in Lunigiana.
Mount Amiata is located between the provinces of Siena and Grosseto, in southern Tuscany. During winter, Mount Amiata offers ski lovers a natural setting in one of Europe’s largest beech forests.
From 1984 to 1986, the European Ski Cup for women was held here.
The ski resorts of Amiata are second only to Abetone, although slopes are fewer and shorter. Usually pretty crowded during weekends, it is more pleasurable during weekdays. Here you can find twelve slopes with ten kilometres of Alpine skiing and ten kilometres of cross-country skiing. A snowboard park is also available but without a half-pipe.
Garfagnana offers a network of three ski resorts, including Passo delle Radici, Careggine and Casone di Profecchia. Careggine offers splendid panoramas and five kilometres of slopes, plus another five for cross-country skiing. Casone di Profecchia has two short slopes for beginners and fifteen kilometres of certified cross-country skiing paths. Passo delle Radici has one slope and is mainly targeted at beginners and children. These three small resorts are perfect for families.
In Lunigiana, across the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, is the pass of Due Santi and Zum Zeri.
In total, here you can find twenty-five kilometres of slopes. The baby playground makes these two destinations perfect for the family with shorter and easier slopes. At 1600 metres high, the view of the Ligurian sea is wonderful, sweeping from the white snow tops to the blue Mediterranean sea.
The next time you plan your visit to Tuscany during the Winter months, don’t forget that you can also add a ski-trip to the itinerary, whether you plan to go for a quick day-trip or a week, known in Italy as a ‘settimana bianca.’
This drink below is called a Bombardino and it is the ‘littel bomb’ of a cocktail preferred on the Italian ski fields. It’s made from 2/3 hot Zabaglione, 1/3 Brandy & coffee and then topped with whipped cream. It’s served hot and is the perfect remedy to warm you up and give you a burst of energy when spending a day on the slopes!