Some of Macugnaga's buildings date back to the thirteenth century and it has something of a cult status, and a 'Swiss feel', thanks to its location a few kilometres south of Switzerland. Its position, across the modern border, accounts for its Germanic Walser tribe traditions. The vintage (but fast!) cable car and a piste map done in oil paints help to underline the feeling that you're stepping back in to the era of classic ski resorts; even if Macugnaga's first lift didn't start running until 1950 when those early resorts were losing their monopoly. Made up of two pretty villages, Staffa and Pecetto, Macugnaga is located beneath the magnificent Monte Rosa, over the border from Saas Fee in one direction (which can be reached on ski with the help of a guide) and fellow Italian ski centre Gressoney on the other. Staffa is the larger of the two villages and the one commonly regarded as 'Macugnaga' as well as being the location for the usually lively, informal après ski scene. The majority of the serious skiing is here and most of the old chalet style buildings, many of them clustered around the central square. Pecetto, a 15 minute walk away, is quieter and has the smaller and easier ski area of Belvedere above it. Macugnaga originally grew up as a trading and meeting point, but also has a long mining history. The ancient gold mine which can still be visited today, opened in 1710. Another monument to the village's long past, the old church, was built at the place where Macuganga was established. Inside there are frescoes and furniture dating back through the centuries. In the churchyard, beyond the graves of the village's inhabitants, the power of the mountains in emphasised by the graves of guides and hikers who have lost their lives on Monte Rosa - a tribute to the real power of the mountain and a world away from the sanitised ski centres of the modern era. The image painted so far may give Macugnaga the wrong skiing image as a hardcore winter sports centre like Chamonix or a La Grave; in fact the resort attracts a great number of beginner and second-week skiers who have ideal terrain and conditions. There are some superb long reds and blacks for more advanced skiers but most will want to venture off piste with a guide for more variety.
Made up of two pretty villages, Staffa and Pecetto, Macugnaga is located beneath the magnificent Monte Rosa, over the border from Saas Fee in Switzerland. Staffa is the larger of the two and location for the usually lively, informal après ski scene.