The snowy dolce vita of Italy’s apres ski culture

Paul De Tourreil | 04/01/2019
Italian Skiing on the Alps. Ski resort in Northern Italy.
Ski Resort of Madonna di Campiglio

When it comes to apres ski, Europe’s legendary ski destinations have been doing it right for decades. Learn how some of the best Italian ski resorts keep the fun going with fine dining, spas and outdoor activities long after the lifts close.

Madonna di Campiglio

The Dolomites are among the best places to ski in Italy — and Madonna di Campiglio is near the top of the list. Alpine, nordic, snowboarding, it’s all here, with more than 90 miles of runs and practically no line-ups, thanks to 22 lifts that can move more than 33,000 people an hour. Apres ski, a sophisticated gastronomic tradition offers up delights such as polenta with deer stew, aromatic cheeses, and Trentino wine in candle-lit ski bars and restaurants. Try the Cantina del Suisse for amazing food, decor and service. 

Madonna has a largely Italian clientele, with fewer foreign guests than other Italian ski resorts. Grand balls, late-night carousing and even St-Moritz-style polo on ice compete for attention as the lifts close and the festivities begin!
 

Cortina d’Ampezzo

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, beautiful Cortina embodies the Dolomites skiing experience. Earning its name as the ‘Queen of the Dolomites’ Cortina’s car-free cobblestone main street, Corso Italia, is a great spot for apres ski shopping, with high-end fashion, antiques, jewelry and art on display. 

This former Olympic host city has been a mecca for celebrity-spotting since the 1950s, when Sophia Loren, Clark Gable and Brigitte Bardot were out and about. (Today, you’re more likely to spot George Clooney). 

Fine dining options include the Tivoli, the only Michelin-starred restaurant In town, the mountainside Rifugio Averau (voted one of the ten best restaurants in the Italian Alps), or perhaps some cheese and sausage at Enoteca, a wine bar acclaimed as much for its warm and homey atmosphere as for its selection of more than 700 wines.

Livigno

Livigno Italy, Ski village. Apres ski in livigno Italy.

Tucked up against the Swiss border in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, Livigno’s initial claim to fame was its status as a duty-free zone, first established back in 1840 by the then-Austrian Empire. Along with the usual restaurants and bars, Livigno is a shopper’s paradise, with more than 250 stores featuring everything from electronics, alcohol, tobacco, and high fashion.

For those seeking a more active apres ski experience, you can go skating, hop on a snowmobile, or try out some ice-circuit driving in cars, go-karts, or quad-bikes.

If you’re looking to recuperate after days on the slopes and nights of apres ski, the Aquagranda Spa by the lake is a perfect place for family style rest and relaxation. The 65,000 square foot facility includes a waterslide and aqua parc for the kids, a fitness gym and swimming pool, a tranquil spa (kid-free zone!) with jacuzzi, sauna and water circuit, and a full-service wellness and beauty center.

Along with those mentioned above, resorts like Courmayeur, Sestriere, San Martino and Val Gardena offer some of the best skiing in Europe. Whether it’s a horse-drawn sleigh ride, folkloric events of all types, or an epicurean dinner in a mountain cabin, followed by a torchlight procession back to town, the apres-ski experience in Italy is sure to be memorable.