“Great hospitality, fine weather and incredible food and drink – all things the Italian Alps can lay claim to.” Crystal Ski
Sestrière, one of the highest ski resorts in Italy, has lots to offer its winter visitors. Excellent snow conditions with man-made options should the unpredictable weather not produce enough of the white stuff, 400km of immaculate groomed terrain set across the Milky Way and chilled-out yet entertaining aprés options. It may not be the prettiest of resorts but you can enjoy Italian hospitality both on and off the slopes.
Ski and Snowboard
Obviously most visitors to Sestrière in the winter months are there to ski or snowboard so the alpine resort is set up to accommodate all their needs (Rent and Go – best rental shop/ski storage/lockers we have encountered in Europe). As the highest resort in the Milky Way, or Via Lattea as it’s also known, the Sestrière ski area offers a good variation of pistes to keep all levels of skiers and boarders entertained. Beginners can practice near the village on the nursery and the more gentle blue slopes (24 blue runs in Sestrière, 42 across the Milky Way) whereas intermediates are recommended to head to Borgatta or Motta for more exciting, steeper runs (15 red runs in Sestrière, 102 across the Milky Way).
Advanced skiers can challenge themselves on the world championship pistes with thirteen black runs and twenty-one in total across the Via Lattea including the daredevil Olympic black run (Sestrière was home to the 2006 Winter Olympics). The 2018 season has seen some amazing snowfall but even if the snow is not so good Sestrière will always offer its man made alternative to keep as many runs as possible open. Fancy trying night skiing? Join in the weekly torchlight descent with the Crystal Ski reps. There’s also a snow park for those who like to practice their tricks.
Included in the weekly ski pass is the opportunity to head over the French-Italian border and enjoy a ski away day where you can ski two countries in one day. The gondola gives visitors easy access out of Sestrière to the rest of the Milky Way ski area that encompasses the resorts of Sauze d’Oulx, Sestriere and Claviere in Italy and across the border to Montgenèvre in France (pass allows one day in France). Once in Montgenèvre you can enjoy the Luge Monty Express aka the longest sledge run in France, loads of powdery runs and two border cross tracks which is ideal for snowboarders and freestylers.
Husky Dog Sledding
Fancy a day off the slopes? Try an exhilarating dog sled ride with Siberian Huskies under the guidance of qualified instructors. An adventurous snow activity without your skis and board, there’s also snowmobiling and skidooing activities and cross-country skiing available all bookable in resort.
One of the best bits about a ski holiday is the aprés and while Sestriere may have a more relaxed scene than some other resorts there’s still plenty to do. Pinky’s Pizzeria is the place to eat delicious traditional Italian pizzas, work your way through the well-stocked bar and catch some live music at twice nightly slots during the week.
Don’t miss an evening with The Emiglios at Pinky’s, the lively Italian all male trio who certainly know how to get the aprés party started. The early evening slot of classic tunes continues later in the evening with party songs and mashups where for some unknown reason the guys are dressed as tennis players. The self-titled party jukebox band are very entertaining and you are guaranteed a fun night all round, they are very friendly and welcome any willing guest performers to join them.
GFC (Gargote Fashion Cafe) is the place for the biggest aprés party of the week every Wednesday from 3.30pm. Pub du Col located in the Hotel du Col has lots happening every week including live music, quiz nights and pub crawls. Kovo offers great burgers and lively music that may get guests dancing on the tables. Tabata is the largest nightclub or ‘discoteca’ as it’s more commonly known in Italy. Expect pumping music until the wee small hours and late night intoxicated revellers crashing along your hotel corridor at all hours.
Those looking for more lively nightlife should head to the cobbled streets of Sauze d’Oulx with its range of après bars to cater for everyone’s tastes, a selection of restaurants as well as late night bars and clubs for those party animals.
Enjoy some pampering at one of the various spa facilities around the resort. Refresh tired limbs in the sauna and hot tub and for that extra indulgence book a massage. There is also a public swimming pool with a jacuzzi and a leisure centre.
Luxury spa Erato Wellness is located at the stunning Principi di Piemonte hotel and welcomes external guests with a prior booking.
Mountain cafes and restaurants are usually the cutest and there’s nothing better than chilling in a deckchair on the terrace in the sun with your chosen tipple in hand. Whether you are looking for a quick bite between runs or a longer lazy stop these venues offer a range of everything from snacks, local dishes, burgers, schnitzel and even steaks, catering for all appetites and budgets. My favourite was the traditionally decorated ‘Ristorante Da Casse’ which was tucked between a blue and red run.
While most visitors have dinner included with their hotel half board hotel packages there are still many great cafes and restaurants to sample for some tasty Italian cuisine. The aforementioned Pinky’s has a large selection of traditional pizzas and Bar Sestrière is good for toasted sandwiches, burgers and a daily happy hour.
Contemporary eatery QB in the main street is very popular, if you haven’t booked a table be prepared to queue. The restaurant has a modern interior with lots of wood and fur akin to a charming high-end chalet with views of the slopes. It’s a good place for breakfast, lunch, dinner and aperitifs, the burgers and beers were popular in our party. There’s an extensive wine list for those who like a boozy lunch and it’s a great place to chill out on white out days.
Sestrière isn’t just a winter resort, once the snow has melted the resort attracts plenty of visitors who want to enjoy what the Italian Alps has to offer in the summer. Golfers can play on Europe’s highest 18-hole course and mountain bikers ride the slopes that form part of the Alpi bike resort offering some of the best riding in Europe. This area features regularly in the Tour de France which increases its popularity with cyclists who want to challenge themselves on the same terrain.
Unless otherwise stated, all views and photos on this page © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved. Additional photos used with courtesy of the respective venues.
Read more about Sestrière in my previous post In Pictures | A Postcard from Sestrière