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Freeride & ski touring check in Livigno

Italian flair, a unique valley and plenty of opportunities

by Alex Schober 12/24/2019
Livigno, a duty-free municipality in the Italian province of Sondrio in Lombardy with an altitude of 1,816m. With the surrounding mountains towering more than 1,000m above the charming little town, Livigno is not just a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts on paper. We were there in spring as part of a press trip to check out the winter sports on offer in the Italian valley and quickly fell in love with this unique region.

Livigno - Italian freeride and ski touring highlight in a unique mountain setting

Due to its geographical location, even the journey to Livigno in the winter months is a very scenic experience: coming from the north, you pass through the dead-straight, single-lane, seemingly endless tunnel before crossing the border into Italy directly at the reservoir and getting your first glimpse of the beautiful high valley. After another 15 minutes' drive, you find yourself in the center of the charming Italian village which is surrounded by mountains on both sides and you get the feeling that the ski lifts start directly from the center of the village.

This assumption turns out to be not so wrong in principle: On the western side of Livigno, the Carosello 3000 ski area with around 75 kilometers of groomed slopes, while the Mottolino Fun Mountain ski area with 25 kilometers of slopes is located on the eastern side of the village. Both ski areas therefore offer 100 km of slopes including some freeride variants. The incredible freeride potential of this area becomes particularly clear when you realize that distances in the north-south direction can be perfectly covered by public transport, making it easy and inexpensive to get to the starting point (or back to the valley station) at any time.

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During our stay in Livigno, we learned to particularly appreciate a special feature of this region: If you come to Livigno for freeriding or ski touring, you will have a really hard time choosing a guide. Not because there aren't any, but simply because one is more likeable than the other.

The morning meetings with the guides and skiers at the "Outdoor Center Livigno" were therefore not just for exchanging avalanche and snow-related information and coordinating the day's activities, but were also used for the first coffee of the day, including rambling tales from the lives of everyone involved. Freeride stress, as we know it from Tyrol, doesn't exist in Livigno. Thank goodness!

On the first day, we decided on a ski tour to Monte Vago, which at 3050 m promises a beautiful north or east descent. The weather was good, the mood was relaxed and so we headed south to the end of the closed pass road, from where we skied further south. Initially relatively flat, following the valley, the tour becomes much steeper on the eastern flank of Monte Vago and opens up wonderful views of Livigno.

The descent towards the pass road followed over extensive, appealing ski touring terrain, on which we skied perfectly back to the starting point of the tour. Once there, we passed the time until the transport arrived with another coffee before enjoying all kinds of cheese specialties that the valley has to offer for lunch at the Latteria di Livigno. This was followed by a revitalizing end to the day at Aquagranda Livigno to recharge our batteries for the following day. A dream of a day!

The next day started - like every day during our stay - with a morning meeting and coffee at the Outdoor Center Livigno. There, we chose Monte Campaccio (3004 m) for today's ski tour, which, after a short abseil, offers a fantastic north-west descent back to the Carosello 3000 ski area. Both the ascent from the ski area and the abseiling point were completed quickly due to the good snow conditions, followed by an enjoyable descent back to the ski area.

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The subsequent lunch at La Calcheira and the traditional cheese fondue dinner at the Alpino Restaurant were also delicious. To get to dinner, we went on a night ski tour in the Mottolino Fun Mountain area, from where you could get a great view of Livigno at night. The ascent can be shortened by the open pass road, but due to the upcoming substantial dinner, we decided to take on a few more meters in altitude.

A long but fun night and an early morning followed after a wet and cheerful descent to Mikey's Pub, which to everyone's delight had fewer meters of ascent than the previous days. Together with our guide, we let off steam in the freeride variants and the Federia side valley before enjoying some free time in Livigno after lunch at La Stuvetta. In the evening, the program included night skiing in the Carosello 3000 area, which was a real treat thanks to the perfectly groomed slopes - even for me with 110mm under my legs and a slope-averse attitude.

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As a grand finale, all participants and guides gathered for breakfast together in the Costaccia Restaurant to bring the stay in beautiful Livigno to a fitting close.

It's probably not hard to see that I had a good time during my stay in Livigno. I was and still am very enthusiastic about the wide range of options this region has to offer for winter sports enthusiasts. Of course, demanding steep slope junkies won't be drawn to Livigno, but the valley offers a varied range of groomed slopes and a multitude of off-piste options to explore. In my opinion, the main focus here should be on ski tours, which can be started from Livigno in any direction. But off-piste skiing in the two ski areas also offers plenty of appealing terrain.

And yes, of course the culinary delights don't fall by the wayside either: a coffee here, delicious pastries there, fondue or simply a pizza - you should stay active in Livigno, otherwise you could be in for a rude awakening on the scales....

On behalf of PowderGuide, I would like to thank the Livigno tourist organization (Martina & Michela) and all the guides (Mario, Alberto, Emanuele, Luca, Davide, Paolo and Fabiano) for the great time we had together!

This will certainly not be my last visit to Livigno.

A presto e saluti!

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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