White weekends

Ovindoli-L-Aquila-001So you&ve seen the Colosseum, walked through the ancient ruins of the Foro Romano, and visited St Peters. You have already braved the bustling city streets, and no doubt had more than a few close calls at the mercy of the less than sane Roman motorists. While Rome is a rich blend of history, culture and excitement, there are many parts of Italy than remain pristine and unexplored. For those of you looking for a little adventure, why not venture into the mountains for a day of skiing’ Many people might think that ski holidays in Italy are limited to the more mountainous regions of the north, so you may be surprised to learn that there are more than a handful of resorts just outside of Rome.[GARD align=”center”]

A mere 45 minutes east of Rome, the Abruzzo region offers an experience like no other.  Nestled in the heart of the Appenine mountain range, where eagles soar high, bears wander the mountain sides and Cinghiale (wild boar) still roam freely in the valleys below, is the Parco Nazionale D’Abruzzo.  With over 400 square kilometres of pristine, unspoiled wilderness, just waiting to be explored, it is the 3rd largest national park in Italy.

Ovindoli Magnola is a popular ski hill for which to enjoy the sunny slopes. Boasting 5 ski lifts which access three separate mountain faces, including a new 8 person ‘gondola’, getting up the hill is a breeze. Getting down is up to you, depending on your skill level on the snow.  Fortunately, the majority of the trails are of the long, lazy variety, which snake down the valley.  Lift passes are 26 euros for adults and 22 euros for children.

If skiing isn’t your thing, not to worry. Many people can simply walk on to the ‘gondola’, and after enjoying a scenic trip to the top, retire to the refugio and soak up the sun rays while sipping hot chocolate.

Once you’re on the slopes, get ready for some comedy. Skiing down is like a busy Roman street in rush hour, people coming at you from all directions, often out of control, but looking very stylish. Out of shape men dribbling down the hill at a snail’s pace will certainly put a smile on your face.

However, as with any service in Italy, you are bound to experience long lineups, whether it is waiting to buy lift passes, getting on the lift, or before grabbing a quick panino. However by this point, you should be well adjusted to this sort of things. Armed with a little patience, just take a deep breath, and look around at the spectacular panoramic view.

Lessons and rentals are available, usually offering private and group rates, by the hour, or for the entire day. Friendly, knowledgeable and professional instructors are available to make your day on the snow a more enjoyable experience. If you have never skied before, it is strongly recommended that you take a lesson. Spending your whole day falling, and collecting various pieces of your equipment is not an enviable experience to have. With the guidance of a professional instructor, you will be skiing in no time, and having the time of your life!

For the more adventurous spirit, there is plenty of back country access for those who are willing. A short hike can yield endless turns in deep powder, but remember to take precautions, and always check the avalanche report before venturing out of bounds. It is advisable to travel in a guided group, and it is recommended to be equipped with all the necessary back country gear; avalanche transceiver, shovel, and rescue probe.

Accommodation

If one day on the slopes isn’t enough to satisfy you, there are many local hotels that offer spacious rooms at reasonable rates, usually with breakfast included. The Park Hotel, located at the base of the village is one of the largest hotels in the area. The friendly staff and warm atmosphere offer a welcome environment. After a hard day on the slopes, why not relax your sore muscles in their hot tub’

Since its proximity to Rome, a day trip to this region is not out of the question. However, after a fun filled day on the snow, many people prefer to spend the week-end here for a few days of exercise and relaxation, Italian style.              

For more information about rentals, passes and snow conditions, call toll-free at 800-014745

by Jacob Campeau

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