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CITY & SKI IN ITALY - Roger Ainger
Friday February 22, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

Abruzzo is the playground for the Romans and the people of Naples. PlanetSKI reports from this niche Italian ski area.




Inform people that you are going skiing in Italy and they will generally assume that you will be visiting the Dolomites or the Italian Alps.

Tell them that you are flying to Naples to ski the Apennines in Abruzzo and there will be generally a look of disbelief on their faces.

This is, in the main, the winter playground of the Romans and the people from Naples.

The first good news is that as Naples is not an obvious ski destination.

Air fares to that airport during the ski season do not see the high prices that you could expect travelling to locations such as Geneva - even around half term time.

Two return flights with BA from Gatwick were purchased (including car hire) for £230 for the middle of February.

Geneva flights at that time would have been more for just one flight.

The main ski area from Naples is Roccaraso - about two hours away.

You can stay in Roccaraso itself - very much a ski town - or in Castel di Sangro which is a more typical Italian town. Here you could stay at the Hotel Lavatoio.

An interesting feature of the property is that within the reception area are the former ancient communal wash house facilities although guests are not expected to make use of them today.

Restored washroomRestored washroom
















Original washroomOriginal washroom
















Perhaps of more interest to skiers is that the hotel has a deal with a ski shop for the rental of skis, poles, boots and helmet for €25 for 6 days.

An upgrade to performance skis is only €40 for 6 days.

Whilst in Castel di Sangro, a visit to Max's bar should be on the agenda.

He stocks 120 varieties of gin and his mixing of a gin and tonic is a performance art.

Max in front of ginMax in front of gin
















Some of the 120 gins at Max's barSome of the 120 gins at Max's bar
















The slopes at Roccaraso are predominately reds and blues and can be accessed from a variety of bases: Pizzalto, Aremonga, Gravare or Monte Pratello.

The lift system has undergone considerable investment over recent years and ensures fast access to the mountain.

Three years ago, €12M. was spent updating the snowmaking facility.

On Saturday and Sunday it was quite busy on the lower slopes with weekend Neapolitan visitors but movement up the mountain soon had us away from the crowds.

View from Toppe del Tesoro 2,141mView from Toppe del Tesoro 2,141m
















Catching some raysCatching some rays
















On Sunday we tried another smaller ski area at Pescasselori (say pesca celery).

The car park was full.

The base area was heaving with people but the slopes and lifts were relatively empty.

Where were all of the people?

Well, it seems that as much as the skiing, the folk from Naples come up to play in the snow, to go tobogganing and to wander around in fur coats (despite the high temperatures).

Good for skiers and for people watchers.

So while the chairs (apart from the deckchairs) were not at all busy, the magic carpet serving the tobogganers and nursery slopes had an endless procession of people.

Empty chairs Empty chairs















Busy magic carpetBusy magic carpet
















Never too early tobogganNever too early toboggan
















Busy tobogganing Busy tobogganing
















Tree lined slopesTree lined slopes
















Abruzzo is the home of Marsican bears but there is little danger that you will spot one.

They are an endangered species with only around fifty in existence.

A sub-species of brown bears they are not generally aggressive to humans.

They are to be found only in Abruzzo although nobody explained why they never crossed into other regions.

The only one we saw was a fibre glass one outside the Marsican bear cake shop in the town of Pescasselori (seemingly they enjoy cakes - especially if they have honey in them).

Marsican Bear Marsican Bear
















On the subject of food - a very important subject is Italy - the slopes are dotted with Rifugios.

These are privately owned and serve traditional Italian fare.

From light snacks to four course lunches there is a good selection for every taste and budget.

The Rifugio at Lago d'Avoli is well worth a visit.

Good invitation at Lago DavoliGood invitation at Lago Davoli
















Anti pasta Anti pasta




















Time for a BombardinoTime for a Bombardino




















History abounds in this area.

A visit (or even a stay at the Hotel Torri) to nearby Pescocostanzo should be on the agenda.

It is a medieval village with around 1,100 inhabitants.

With only 4 babies born here each year it has similarities with Marsican bears.

It is a largely unspoilt village and it is like a step back in history.

It also has 8kms of pistes just above the village at Vallefura.

















Pescocostanzo in the middle agesPescocostanzo in the middle ages
















Hotel TorriHotel Torri
















On the way back to Naples we visited Sulmona - birth place of Roman poet Ovid whose bronze statue overlooks the main square.

There is no shortage of cultural visits in this part of the world.

Ovid keeps watchOvid keeps watch
















If your interest are more sporting, you could consider combining skiing with a Six Nations rugby match.

Italy play England in Rome next year on 15th February 2020.

Unlike Twickenham, Cardiff and Murrayfield, tickets are readily available so it is not difficult to arrange.

Who knows, you could be watching the new World Champions in action.

Roccoraso ski area: 10 black, 26 red, 28 blue and 4 green runs.

There are 100 kms. of piste at Roccaraso with another 20 between Pesco and Pesca, all skiable on the same ticket.

We stayed at the Sport Village Hotel in Castel di Sangro - a good 3 star property with a health spa.

For more information on Skiing in Abruzzo 

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news


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