Cross Country Skiing in Italy

Where to find nordic nirvana in the Italian Alps.

Livigno

One of Italy’s highest , Duty free shopping , Authen...

Great for:

  • Late season
  • Après ski
  • Non skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Kronplatz

Authentic Tyrolean charm , Pristine pistes , Excellen...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Foodies
  • Non-skiers

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Passo Tonale

Glacier skiing, Cheap ski holidays , Sno many activities

Great for:

  • Families
  • Snow sure
  • Freeriders

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Selva

Access to Sella Ronda , Awesome Dolomite scenery , Ne...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Cross country
  • Foodies

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Courmayeur

Pretty, car-free village , International ski pass

Great for:

  • Families
  • Off-piste
  • Foodies

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Ortisei

Amazing scenery , Charming village , Italian & Austri...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Après ski
  • Groups

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Cortina

Spectacular scenery , Olympic resort , Friendly local...

Great for:

  • Intermediates
  • Off-piste
  • Families

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Gressoney

Awesome scenery , Pretty villages , Laid back atmosphere

Great for:

  • Families
  • Intermediates
  • Quiet holiday

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Madonna di Campiglio

Classic ski village, Linked area , Epic Dolomites sce...

Great for:

  • Families
  • Scenery
  • Snow sure

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Bardonecchia

Superb snowparks , Own rail station , Bordering France

Great for:

  • Beginners & intermediates
  • Cheap skiing
  • Families

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Snowboard

Top 10 Most Popular

Home to Europe’s biggest XC area (Dolomiti NordicSki, at a whacking great 1000km), Italy’s sci di fondo has a lot going for it. Firstly, the Italian Alps are mind-meltingly scenic – especially the Dolomites – and most trails are designed to capture their best angles.

Then there’s the specialist instruction, with tuition costing a lot less than it does in France or Switzerland. Pick one of Italy’s best resorts for cross country skiing, and if you’re not already fond of di fondo, we’ll bet our bombardinos you soon will be.

Italy: Top 10 for Cross Country Skiing

Kick starting Livigno’s winter season each December is the international Sgambeda XC marathon (now part of the Swix Ski Classic circuit), placing cross country firmly at the core of this ski town’s agenda. Onto the terrain, 40km of trails are prepared with tramlines, with the sunny 5km Marianna Longa competition track kept tip-top by snow cannons. We love the blue trails here - they’re steady, scenic and feature just enough vertical to give a buzz as you pick up downhill speed: the Turistica is all about the distance, touring 18.6km of the valley. There’s also a biathlon centre in the middle of town, where beginners and experts alike can dabble in the famous combination of skiing and rifle shooting. Nearby Scuola Sci Fonda are always on hand – whether it’s for a guide, instructor or prepping for next year’s marathon...

They call Kronplatz the King of the Dolomiti Nordic Ski network, and we’re inclined to agree. Such a big claim has to have solid evidence, and Kronplatz isn’t short of convincing numbers – 300km of terrain to itself(!) and a whacking great 35km racing track. First-rate snow making machines keep the easy and intermediate tracks primped and primed, while the lovely folk at The Nordic Ski School help skis meet the snow. The Val Casies Monguelfo Tesido - Gsieser Tal Welsberg Taisten is one of the (biggest names and) biggest draws to the region. Proud home to the annual 35km Gsieser Tal Lauf marathon, it’s spectacular for skiers and spectators alike. Giving long distance a break, a 0.7km trail from just below the Ruis Cable Car connects St. Vigil to Pederü, mixing it up with the odd bump and plenty of the Dolomites’ best angles. A firm favourite is the red Sun Trail Kasern route that spans 10km and ventures through the Aurina Valley to Ahrntal. There’s also the wonderfully sunny 5km Olang, that skirts the town borders and places you back exactly where you want to be after a long day on the groomers.

After Austrian soldiers opened the locals’ eyes to the world of XC during WWI, there was no going back. These days, cross country has become a Val di Sole staple, with 55km of the country’s finest trails linking beautiful villages to scenic mountain peaks. The most prestigious of them all lives a double life as a 9km former racing track and easy-going tourist route, connecting Ponte di Lego to Vermiglio. Having your own car is a godsend here, with XC centres spread across Vermiglio, Cogolo, Mezzana, Ossana and Rabbi – most within a half hour drive. Still easily packed into one day are the cross country trails in the Volpaia-Stavel-Velon area (a little further out) – where 20km of conifer-lined routes zig-zag through the Stelvio National Park. Closer to home, the Cologo centre hosts one especially spectacular trail: starting off from the Biancaneve ski slope, the advanced lines follow a touring track, passing a 15th century Pegaia church and the Rio Polveriera waterfall before merging onto the Contra slope. From here it’s a world of icy rivers and Cologo/Celentino viewpoints, all leading to one thing – Il Mulino, a restaurant as classically Italian as it gets.

The stupidly scenic Val Gardena is home to a whopping 133km of trails. Pick out the parish church and head 15 minute’s west (on foot) to where local XC schools and hire centres have set up shop; whether skiing solo or with the help of an instructor, the Vallunga is first port of call. Just north of Selva, the Natural Park links Puez to Odle and manages to cram in terrain of all gradients and classifications. Starting off flat, blue and green signposts encourage beginners onto short courses; a 1.5km green and 3.0km blue are smooth, simple and a slice of bigger things to come. Just round the corner, experienced skiers are often spotted in V formation skating skywards up the 5km red, a training slope that often plays the role of race host. A weekly pass (usually around 30 euros) covers all of this, including a fabulous 10km black itinerary. Crossing the entire valley towards the Pra da Ri field, this intense workout features an endless backdrop of craggy Dolomite peaks, where it feels like just you and the mountains.

Burrowed in a corner of the Val Ferret, at the foot of the mighty Monte Bianco, Courmayeur and the Arpy valley manage to tick every box on our XC wish list. All routes here begin in Planpincieux, but that’s the only common factor – a sleek 9km red winds down to Lavachey, while experienced skiers continue on through a connected route of 5, 10 and 20km sections to the stonkingly pretty area of Arp Nouaz. On the way down, there are two brilliant connections; the piste de Entreves and the piste de Dolonne. The former’s labelled blue and doubles up as the stomping ground for the Monte Bianco Ski School who bring out beginners to tackle 3.2km of gentle terrain. Just a little longer, the 4km Dolonne draws in intermediates hoping for a bigger challenge – keep an eye out for the unsuspecting steeps! The most scenic of the areas surrounding Courmayeur have to be the Arpy tracks; ranging from 2 - 7.5km the tramlines loop around the Arpy Valley which connects Morgex to Colle San Carlo via fir forests, 18th century homes and alpine rivers.

The pride and glory of this small community village is the Alpe di Siusi, where the locals claim the sun’s out all day, every day. Making it a cracking setting for XC, a mammoth 80km of tracks have popped up here over the years. Take the lifts up to 2000m, where classic and skating routes have been fine-tuned to encompass every level. Vying for top blue spot, the 5km Compaccio-Ritsch loop, 6km Moser and 9km Col del Lupo circuits are friendly to novices, but have enough length and smooth lines for intermediates. Competition is just as hot in the red corner, with the 12km Hartl, 6km Saltria and 3km Passio Pinei cramming in historic sites and panoramic views. Helping Ortisei garner a reputation for seriously hard trails is a selection of lengthy and lofty circuits like the Panorama route - a challenge tackled only by the pros that, passing Dolomite giants as it unfolds over 11km, does what it says on the tin.

Cortina's Queen of the Dolomites, and XC skiers will have a royally good time here. The trails – all 75km of them – are high altitude, extremely organised and cover all abilities (and last time we checked, they were free to access). Start at the Fiames Sport Nordic Centre which is a colourful, flag-lined hub of activity just minutes from the village. Here the tramlines run parallel to each other before splitting off in every direction: Experts can head for the Tre Croci Pass, a 10km route that climbs to 1800m and winds its way through forest, over steeps and across the occasional hairpin bend. For a gentler ski, a 1.3km green loops left onto the flat school field, before joining a lengthy but simple 11.4km blue that links Cortina to the super scenic mountain pass, Cimabanche. Combining immense length with stunning views, the 27km Cortina to Dobbiaco skips past the craggy Pomagagnon peak, across a frozen lake and over snowy pastures. Some die-hard skiers like to ski the journey back, totalling the outing at a hefty 54km...

55km of tramlines trickle through the Monterosa region, linking the time honoured pit stops of Gressoney-La-Trinité, Gressoney St. Jean and cosy Stafal. Directly opposite Trinité’s Hotel du Lys is the Underwoald loop, and it sets the bar high: a 3.5km circuit sits at 1665m and sees some of the very best Italian snow. Just down the road, a web of groomers and grooves break away from the centre, getting up close and personal with the dense forest that shelters St. Jean from the outside world. Setting off opposite Hotel Gressoney, the Castello-Rundstrecke is a real thigh-tester - 7.5km of vertical climbing, downhill speeding and stunning snow-capped woodland. Everyone here’s in agreement on the overriding favourite, and it’s a lengthy one. Totalling a monster 30km, the Monteroslauf loop is seriously intense, but what’s a few extra km when the views of the Aosta valley are this good? Sharing the same sights is the Dresal-Rimdstrecke route, an aperitif at just 2km (or a 4km double shot with the connecting line), it’s ideal for anyone hoping to head for the pizzeria come afternoon. Come evening, the 1.1km Gover-See trail is floodlit for a spot of after-supper action.

The Campo Carlo Magno Nordic Centre set up roots here in ‘98, and it’s dominated the mountain pass ever since. Inside the grounds, 4 trails, totalling 15km, have been set aside for each ability level, right up to athletes competing on the big stage. The local ski school - Scuola Italiniana Sci - has rental and lessons covered, with classes taking place on the comfortingly named 0.5km Test trail and the 2km Baby trail – smooth, flat and surrounded by soothing rivers. Whether you prefer classic or skating, the 5km Sprint line and the 7.5km World Cup route are the juggernauts of Madonna, and they’re just perfect for building confidence. With a SuperNordicSkiPass the Val Rendena valley opens up another 22km of FIS certified terrain, connecting the stunning villages of Pinzolo and Carisolo. The Frassanida centre draws in the locals with a 5km trail that climbs the striking Val Genova valley and leads into a 15km line between Carisolo and Caderzone – trees of every size, shape and species, coated in the whitest snow. And if all that inspires you to ski ‘til bedtime, there’s a 2km floodlit circuit open in the evening…

With the looming figure of Mont Thabor on the horizon, Bardo’s never short of good-looking landscape, framing every route in the area. Peaking at 1510m, two easy routes total 3km, covering just enough of the terrain to give a taste of the sport, without needing years’ of experience. A middling 3.5km gets the pick of the views, skirting the edges of the Les Arnauds – Punta Four Sisters, a natural park that separates the valley from French territory. It links onto a gruelling 5km black for those with a healthy dose of determination, taking in the rocky limestone cliffs and nesting golden eagles. Hiking up to 1780m, the mountain refuge Re Magi is in a simply outstanding area that shows off the dazzling landscape of the Dolomites, all via an intermediate, 10km trail. Higher yet, Decauville in Jafferau sits at 2000m, and the flat terrain is the local’s pride and joy - follow the 8km trail that side-lines the narrow-gauge railway for something really special.

Above are Italy’s most incredible cross country ski resorts, much loved for their stunning scenery, careful grooming and sheer variety of trails.

To browse beyond the Italian border, have a look at our top 10 lists for XC in Austria, Switzerland and France and the whole world.


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