Are you craving crisp mountain air, daydreaming of powdery adventures and tranquil mountain life? Perhaps you’re a foodie, pining for yummy Italian cuisine paired with a delicious cappuccino?
We’re guessing you’re in need of a treat, so ditch that stressful ski holiday experience that we all know too well. Let crowded runs and streets littered with swarms of Brits become a thing of the past, and instead head for this gorgeous unspoilt village on the Italian-Swiss border.
With a reputation for peaceful slopes and a warm atmosphere of Italian authenticity, we reckon you’ll fall in love with Madesimo.
It’s always been one of my favourites, and it’s just too good not to share, so here are my top reasons why Madesimo should be your next stop for a relaxing winter break.
1. It’s Easy to Get To
Situated right on the border of Switzerland, this cosy Alpine village is easily accessible and you avoid going through the usual busy alpine airport hubs.
Milan Linate or Bergamo are the best airports to fly into with transfers of roughly 2 hours that take you along the shore of Lake Como and then up towards the Spluga pass.
I recommend you take this time to relax, listen to some music and enjoy the ride, which is rich with panoramas of snow-capped mountains. The 2 hours will fly by!
2. Your Wallet Will Stretch Further
On a budget? Christmas has emptied out most of our wallets too – another reason why Madesimo will put a smile on your face.
Unlike the glittering A-list resorts such as Courchevel or Cortina, Madesimo doesn’t attract celebrities or people wanting to throw their money around. Instead it’s a small family-friendly destination for you and your kids.
I can guarantee you’ll be amazed by the incredible value for money with one of the cheapest ski passes we have come across. It may be brilliantly cheap but the quality is extremely high, with an excellent modern lift system, well-groomed terrain and an excellent snow record.
3. Madesimo is Unspoilt
Madesimo boasts real Italian charm coupled with empty pistes and a quiet village.
You can’t say this about many resorts nowadays, where come February half term they come in their flocks, resulting in long lift queues (not ideal especially if you’re only there for a short break), icy pistes, and trying to snag a seat at busy restaurants.
In the village, locals are welcoming and friendly to guests, rather than in a busier resort where they may resent the masses of holiday-makers for disturbing the tranquillity of the mountains.
Although it does tend to fill up a little at the weekends, Madesimo remains a blissfully uncrowded destination during the week. You deserve to unwind and truly relax without shivering chairlift queues or late night disturbances from tipsy tourists partying in the street.
4. You’ll Find Some Great Italian Cuisine
If you come for anything, let it be for the food. This is Italy, so expect good things.
There are plenty of great eateries for you to try out whether it’s a wood-burning oven pizza you’re after, one the area’s classic hearty local dishes like pizzoccheri or stinco di santo or perhaps something more sophisticated.
For gourmet, try the Michelin-starred Cantinone in the Hotel Alpina, or my absolute favourite restaurant, the Dogana Vegia, located in a 17th-century customs house. This place is oozing with ambiance with its collection of antique objects and log fires. Osteria Vegia is another recommended spot for local specialities, and there are also some good pizzerias such as the Soldanella.
Whilst in Madesimo, you simply have to taste another local speciality, Bresaola (dry salted beef). It makes a perfect accompaniment to an aperitivo at the Bolicine, a stylish bar which gives you huge platters of meat and cheese complimentary with your drinks!
If you’re looking for more foodie recommendations for your next ski holiday, I dedicated a whole article to Our Favourite Restaurants in the Alps last week!
4. There Are Some Great Hotel Options
There’s a range of good value family-run hotels, many of which are ski in ski out or at least very close to being so – in fact it is a real family affair. There’s nothing luxury, but if you desire a laid-back setting this is your place.
Brothers Athos and Andrea run the Hotel Capriolo and Hotel Meridiana respectively, both of which are ideally located on the main strip and right by the Larici gondola. Also just across the street from the lift is the K2 Hotel, a more budget option (not that anything is expensive here) but with excellent food.
Boscone Suite hotel is perfect for young families: complete with a spa (sauna and Turkish bath) for unwinding whilst the kids are entertained in the hotel’s crèche.
The Andossi is fab hotel run by Franco, the mayor of Madesimo and his lovely wife Tiziana – offering an indoor swimming pool and spa a short stroll from the nursery slopes. Next door The Sport Hotel Alpina is run by their son and is a beautiful boutique hotel in an ideal location sharing the same pool and spa.
5. Skiing for All Levels
Lastly, but most importantly, the skiing. This is where to find one of the best-kept secrets in the Alps and a run that should be on everyone’s list of must-do descents.
For the braver members of the group the Canalone itinerary is 1000m vertical of un-pisted excitement. It is one of the absolute greats and should be on your bucket list! However there are plenty of well-groomed, gentler pistes to explore for the rest of you.
The intermediates can lap up the acres of lovely tree-lined cruising, as the beginners master those first turns on the Arlecchino piste. I think this is the perfect beginner slope – a decent length and an ideal pitch for those who are still a bit wobbly on skis, as well as a cute dog to greet you at the bottom (he comes with the lifty – if it is still the same guy).
There’s even floodlit night skiing – ride the gondola after dusk and see the mountain in a totally different light.
As an alternative to skiing, there’s also an incredible 70 kilometres of snowmobile tracks reaching right up to the Swiss border. There really aren’t many places in Europe where you can hire and drive your own snowmobile in open country rather than round a short marshalled circuit – this unique experience is perfect for the adrenaline junkie or a family outing where Mum and Dad drive the kids on their back and set off for a picnic, throwing a blanket on the Swiss-Italian border. Where else could you experience that – putting your kids in Switzerland while you’re eating your sandwiches in Italy?!
Get Your Skis On…
So there you have it. Delicious Italian food, all round brilliant value, cosy hotels in a village that will enchant you with its beauty and Alpine magic, and challenging terrain to get stuck into.
If the idea of Madesimo has caught your attention, and you want to experience it yourself, get in touch to start organising your tailor-made trip.