Bardonecchia ski resort
Bardonecchia is one of Italy’s original alpine ski resorts, having been established in the early part of the 20th century. The first Italian skiing championships were held here in 1909, and, nearly a century later, the town was a venue during the 2006 Winter Olympics based in Turin.
Bardonecchia is a mid-sized resort with around 100km (62 miles) of runs served by two dozen lifts – some of which are now unfortunately rather elderly. Like Utah’s Park City, four years before, the resort went from having no snowboarding facilities to boasting a state of the art terrain park and Olympic-sized halfpipe, assets available to all guests today.
Once within Bardonecchia itself, located close to the French border at one end of the Fréjus rail tunnel, visitors discover a pleasant, small town with a semi-pedestrianised centre and a history that long pre-dates winter sports. Historic buildings with 15th- and 16th-century frescos painted on the walls are prime evidence of this. Due to its long-term, year-round resort status, there are above average recreational facilities besides the extensive winter sports offering, which is divided between two main bus-linked areas.
Bardonecchia is located in the upper part of Val di Susa in the Alps, within the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The resort is situated on the French border, due west of Turin.
On the slopes
Thanks to the high altitude of its largely north-facing upper slopes Bardonecchia has a good reputation for reliable snow conditions.
Bardonecchia’s skiing is divided between three areas: Melezet, Jafferau and Campo Smith. The latter is the heart of the ski area and is where most facilities, including a ski school and numerous après-ski bars, are based.
Melezet and Campo Smith are fully lift-linked, while Jafferau, a five-minute bus ride away, has the highest runs at nearly 2,800m (9,186ft). Much of the terrain across these areas is ideal for the recreational skier looking for fast, easy to moderate cruising trails, and there’s a good mix of runs both above and below the treeline.
More experienced skiers may struggle to find slopes to keep them entertained, although some tougher terrain is available at Jafferau, including bowl and tree skiing both on- and off-piste. Those seeking greater challenges still – who also have money to spend – can sign up for heli-skiing.
From Bardonecchia, it’s also possible to make a day trip to the giant Via Lattea (Milky Way) ski area. A trip to the nearest Via Lattea resort of Sauze d’Oulx takes around 45 minutes by bus (with a change in the town of Oulx).
Bardonecchia can lay claim to having the only Olympic half pipe in Europe that is on a par with Nagano, Salt Lake City and Vancouver. The resort also has a dedicated terrain park with kickers and moguls of all sizes and shapes.
Cross-country skiers will find around 28km (17 miles) of well-prepared tracks for all levels of ability, from beginner to expert.