Livigno ski resort
Livigno is one of those ski resorts that quietly keeps going, getting gradually bigger and better, while others rocket to global fame then quickly drop back out of the limelight and fade into obscurity.
Part of this slow burning approach is thanks to Livigno's isolation, straddling the Italian-Swiss border three hours from the nearest airport. It's this far-flung location has twice been the resort's saving grace. The story goes that when the resort first opened tax inspectors faced such an ordeal to reach it during the winter that they simply stopped coming, making Livigno a cheap duty free ski destination.
While the lack of tax remains a draw, Livigno's obscure slopes remain quieter than the majority of popular European resorts, making it a mecca for skiers wanting to avoid the crowds. Additionally, Livigno's range of piste is ever-increasing, branching out from its high, and relatively snowsure, base.
The resort itself is based along one main road, lined by the same small bars, eateries and hotels that sprang up in the 1980s. Because of this exponential investment in the area after becoming tax free, the resort does still lack a real heart (one of its primary criticisms), although efforts are continually being made to rectify this.
Livigno is in the northern Italian province of Lombardy at the southern end of the Alps. The ski resort is also close to the Swiss border, which is a few kilometres to the north.
LivignoResort Elevation: 1816m
Top Elevation: 2797m
Base Elevation: 1816m
On the slopes
Livigno's skiing is basically divided in two by the valley road, along which the resort is dispersed. The two halves are accessed by high-capacity, high-speed gondolas (Mottolino and the two-stage Carosello 3000) and a network of high-speed chairlifts that form part of a modern lift network.
The ski area is characterised by a series of village-side nursery slopes on the meadows beside the resort; long, fast, open 'motorway' runs above; and a few steep blacks below the area's highest skiing at Monte Della Neve.
Freestylers and snowboarders will enjoy the resort's terrain parks at Mottolino and Carosello 3000, with the former also including a super-pipe. There are also facilities for the less experienced who may want to have a go at getting some air.
Thanks to its altitude, the village nursery slopes are normally snowsure throughout the season, which normally runs from the end of November until the start of May. In fact, most of the slopes are blessed with good snow cover, with the lower altitude slopes aided by snow-making facilities.
An area pass covering resorts in the surrounding Alta Valtellina region, including Bormio and Santa Caterina (as well as a day over the border in St Moritz), is available for those with a minimum stay of six days.