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In medieval times the ‘Franchi" went through the valley – the main route to Gaul; thus many abbeys were constructed on the Via Francigena which rises to Moncenisio. The first one, founded just outside Turin at Rivoli, is Sant’Antonio di Ranverso. The preceptory and adjacent hospital were founded in 1186 by Umberto III and then entrusted to the Antoniani di Vienne priests. These structures were built for protection as well as to provide food and lodging for travellers. Other castles in the valley were aimed at defending the peninsula from invaders – of whom there have been many, from Carlo Magno onwards. The most striking one is undoubtedly the Forte di Exiles: an extraordinary example of military architecture. Food is important here – you’ll find many of the best products of Piemontese traditional mountain cuisine, many of which have been given the mark of quality: salami, cheese (Murianengo, Toma del Piemonte, Raschera, Reblochon del Moncenisio), mushrooms, apples, the potatoes of Cesana, wine (Cimont), liqueurs made with herbs (Genepy, from the mountains of Cesana). Furthermore, you cannot leave without sampling the delicious chocolate, like the famous Gianduiotto!
In the picturesque Piedmont region there are several ski resorts, such as Sauze d’Oulx, Courmayeur and Sestriere. The area, known for its long wide open surroundings and sunny skies, is often called The Milky Way and it´s just perfect for a snow holiday!
Sauze d’Oulx

Sauze d’Oulx

Italian skiing was born in Sauze d’Oulx. Here in 1897 Adolf Kind, a Swiss engineer, made his first appearance on skis and then taught locals how to organise the first competitions. Sauze d’Oulx – which once hosted the Olympic Winter Games - is a village with a delightful little centre of traditional stone and wood built buildings. The area of Sauze d’Oulx is also famous because of its eco-system: close to it, in the Gran Bosco (Great Forest), live 21 species of mammals, including deer, roe-bucks, chamois and wolves, more than 70 species of nesting birds and 600 types of flora. Via Lattea consists of five Piedmontese resorts: Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx, Sansicario, Cesana, Claviere, and Montgenevre in France. It offers 203 skiing-connected runs (52 blue, 111 red and 40 black), for a total linear extent of 400 km. There are 78 lifts that range from an altitude of 1,350m in Cesana to 2,800m at Mount Motta, a peak that gives a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains, allowing skiers to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the area. There are also two snowparks, one in Sauze d’Oulx and one in Séstriere. You have the possibility to purchase a one day ticket, a multi-day pass (e.g. a 2-day card) or a weekly card, according to your needs. Don´t worry about the equipment because in Sauze d’Oulx there are many ski rental shops where you can get anything you need! Downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross-country are the main disciplines taught in all the ski schools of Via Lattea, but there are also instructors who specialise in telemark skiing. Moreover, some instructors are experts in teaching children and the disabled. Here are two schools in Sauze d’Oulx: Sauze Sportinia www.scuolascisauzesportinia.com +39 0122 850218 Sauze Project www.sauzedoulxproject.it +39 0122 850654

Courmayeur

Courmayeur

Set in the Aosta Valley with spectacular views of Monte Bianco, the traditional alpine village of Courmayeur is one of the most picturesque Italian ski resorts. The range of skiing options makes it suitable for all abilities, be it the gentle beginner’s slopes of the Checrouit-Val Veny or the more demanding upper reaches of Monte Bianco which are more suited to experienced skiers. Other activities to be found around the town include snowshoe walking excursions, indoor climbing, ice skating and a cinema, whilst for those who like their entertainment to be a little more cerebral, there is the nearby ancient town of Aosta and a myriad of medieval castles to explore. After a hard day on the piste head to the atmospheric cobbled alleyways in and around Via Roma and sample the delights of Courmayeur’s restaurants, renowned as the best of any Italian resort. Slope Life: Standing in the shadow of the Monte Bianco-Mount Blanc massif, the beautiful alpine resort of Courmayeur offers 100km of pistes and caters for all levels and abilities. The main hub of the mountain is the Plan Checrouit, but most skiers will use this as a starting point to access more challenging runs on the mountain as can be found at Mount Chetif, Col Cherout and Cresta Youla. At the top of the range there is Cresta d Arp, strictly for high level skiers, offering the chance to experience some good off piste guided skiing. Ski passes are available from 1 to 14 days. All passes valid for 6 to 10 consecutive days may be used for 2 days in one of the other ski resorts of the Aosta Valley, which include the resorts of La Thuile, La Rosière, and Champoluc-Gressoney-Alagna and also include access to Chamonix (lifts on the French side not included, though). Scuola Sci Monte Bianco +39 0165 842477 www.scuolascimontebianco.com Interski +39 0165 304711 www.interski.co.uk If you want to kit yourself out with some go faster skis or if you´re looking to keep up with the Courmayeur fashionistas, then there are a number of outlets which can provide what you’re looking for! 4810 Sport 106 Via Roma +39 0165 844345 www.grivel-courmayeur.it Alpineve Loc Plan Checrouit +39 0165 846357 www.alpineve.it

Sestriere

Sestriere

Tucked amongst the mountains, the high altitude resort of Sestriere is a safe bet for guaranteed snow cover. Purpose built in the 1930’s, Sestriere is the capital of the Via Lattea or as it is known to ski aficionados – The Milky Way – a series of lifts that link a number of villages and offers a combined ski area of 400 km covering 140 slopes. The skiing caters for all levels of ability from beginner’s slopes to the technically challenging trails that were used for the alpine events during the 2005/2006 Winter Olympics. Asides from the skiing there are other winter activities designed to challenge and thrill, such as heli-skiing, ski-doo trails, winter hikes and ice skating. The resort has a wide selection of restaurants and entertainment venues that will cater for all your Après-ski requirements, whilst in the surrounding area there are many fine medieval castles and churches if you’re looking to sample a taste of the local history and culture. Slope Life: Host of the 2005/2006 Winter Olympic Alpine events and capital of the Milky Way, Sestriere is the star around which all the other resorts in the region gravitate. The Milky Way or the Via Lattea comprises the villages/resorts of Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx, Sansicario, Cesana-Claviere and Mont Genevre (in France), which offer up to 400 km of pistes and are interlinked by a series of lifts. Throughout the area there are runs to suit all levels. However, Sestriere which stands at 2,035 m has the best access and offers the highest (2,823 m) and most challenging pistes in the area with Monte Sises providing more expert black runs. Advanced skiers can also find plenty of challenging off piste action in and around the region. The Monte Motta/Banchetta Mountains are more suitable for the intermediate skier, whilst beginners will be able to frolic on the slopes just above the resort. The resort is serviced by 20 lifts and in order to access the rest of the Milky Way, take the Col Basset gondola to Sauze d’Olux. Ski passes range from 1 to 15 days. The Via Lattea 1 day pass includes access to the resorts of Sestriere, Sauze d’oulx, Sansicario, Cesana, Claviere. International passes are also available. Sestriere also has a selection of high quality ski schools for those taking their first tentative steps on the snow: Scuola Sci Sestriere +39 0122 77060 www.scuolascisestriere.com Scuola Sci Borgata +39 0122 77497 www.scuolasciborgata.com Scuola Sci Vialattea Sestriere +39 0122 76528 www.scuolascivialattea.it And for all your equipment needs, the following supplier will be happy to oblige: Centro Sci Sestriere 2 Via Pinerolo +43 720 990 293 www.rentasport.it

Visitors to this corner of the country will find that the Valle d’Aosta and Piedmont are quite distinct in character from the rest of Italy. The long history of geo-political power struggles with their French neighbours and the mountainous alpine environment have created a unique identity amongst the inhabitants. French was the official language in Piedmont only a century ago, whilst in Aosta, it still remains the administrative and legal language to this day, despite the majority of people speaking Italian. Add to this Aosta’s autonomy from central government and it becomes clear why this area is seen as the most un-Italian part of Italy. This is perhaps most obvious in the gothic style castles that dot the landscape of these two regions. Dating back to the reign of the Royal House of Savoy, the imposing fortifications set amongst the majesty of the mountains, help lend a fairytale air to the surroundings which is far from the suave sophistication of the Italian Riviera and the grandiosity of Rome.
The region’s gastronomic standards more than hit the heights expected of Italian cuisine. Throughout the two regions there is a pride in the traditional dishes that have been passed down through the ages and this manifests itself in an abundance of excellent restaurants. The region also produces some excellent wines that will ensure that the connoisseurs amongst you will be well catered for!
What´s better than a hot drink straight after a long day on the snow? A hot drink and something sweet to eat! Check one of the popular spots listed below (you will notice both cafés and proper bakeries) and spoil yourself with a hot chocolate and a slice of delicious cake, perfectly baked according to the Italian tradition!
A beer never tastes as good as after a long and fun day in the slopes. After a refreshing shower and a strengthening meal, head down to meet and greet your fellow skiers. The good mood is always infectious and you're in for a different kind of ride!
Airport

Airport

To get to the major ski resorts from The Caselle-Turin Airport the easiest way is to book a private transfer or to hire a car. There is a wide selection of rental car companies at the airport. If you rather go by public transportation you have to be prepared to go via Turin. Sauze d'Oulx The Caselle-Turin Airport is around 1 hour by car from Sauze d’Oulx. From the airport there are different ways to go to the village but the easiest, when carrying a lot of luggage, is the private transfer. A one way transfer from Turin airport for 4 people will cost around €35 per person. If you´d rather go by public transfer there is a bus from the airport to the main train station of Turin (Porta Nuova). Tickets for the bus are bought from a machine in the arrivals hall and cost around €5.00. The train from Turin goes to Oulx (ticket price €15.00) and from there a bus leaves to Sauze d’Oulx (ticket price €5.00). www.trenitalia.it Courmayeur Turin Airport lies 117km from Courmayeur and the journey takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car. To get here with public transportation you need to go firstly to Turin Central Station and from there get on the train to Aosta, which takes 2hr 30 minutes. From Aosta a bus will take you to Courmayeur in 1 hour. www.trenitalia.it Sestriere Turin airport lies 104km from Sestriere and train and bus routes to the village are operated by Trenitalia. Transport from Turin airport to Turin Central station runs every half hour and takes 20 minutes. From Turin take the train to Oulx, which takes a maximum of 1hr 21 minutes, and from there a bus to Sestriere, which takes 45 minutes. www.trenitalia.it

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