Madonna di Campiglio is one of the world's best ski resorts, and certainly one of Italy's most famous, certainly domestically, ranking up there with Cortina d'Ampezzo as one of the brightest jewels in the country's crown.
Sitting at 1,550m, with 150km of well-groomed, mostly intermediates pistes supported by great snowmaking, it offers a hugely enjoyable ski area, with access lifts coming right down into the town. Almost all the key trails are served by modern, comfortable chairs and gondolas. The terrain stretches to Folgarida in the north, and Pinzolo in the south.
Madonna di Campiglio is also a very chic resort, staging the kind of grand balls and polo-on-ice tournaments that you might otherwise find in a place like St Moritz - but the prices here are nothing like those you'd encounter in the Swiss resort, and the scenery, if anything is more stunning. The Rendena Valley is dominated by the towering peaks of the Brenta Dolomites - spires of red rock jutting straight up into the sky.
The area has a long and storied history, but had been in a period of decline for around 150 years when skiing first began here in the 1930s. The resort really took off again in the '50s, and most of the local population are now employed in the tourism industry. Trentino is now one of the wealthiest regions in Italy, and unusually for a top European resort, the vast majority of Madonna's clientele is domestic.
Madonna di Campiglio - Ski Map & Pistes:
Madonna's excellent ski area extends over 150km, with fully-integrated lift links via Monte Vig over to the two purpose-built centres of Marilleva and Folgarida in the Val di Sole. The slopes are varied and the terrain extensive, with long, confidence-building blue runs, as well as some 'light' reds. These are great for building up to tackle the 22 percent of pistes that are rated black. The best of these is on Monte Spinale, heading towards Marilleva.
Overall, Madonna offers wonderful terrain for intermediate skiers, who will find long cruising trails through the forest and plenty to explore between the different sectors of the ski area. The feeling of discovery is perhaps enhanced because, whichever route you take, you will emerge above the tree-line, but then descend back into it to reach the base of the next lift, before popping out again.
Madonna's near neighbour, the lovely village of Pinzolo, comes with its own medium-sized ski area below Doss del Sabion, complete with modern lifts. On the other side the Val de Sole the resorts of Passo Tonale (with its high altitude, year round, glacier skiing), and the slightly more distant slopes of Pejo, above the old village famous for its thermal springs, are also included on the area ski pass, as is Monte Bondone, next to the biggest nearby city, Trento.
Back in Madonna beginners are often collected from their hotels or the ski school office and taken on a mini bus up to the gentle nursery slopes of Campo Carlo Magno, away from the busy main slopes. From these beginnings it's easy to start touring the whole area by the end of your first week.
Madonna di Campiglio - Off-Piste, Backcountry & Ski Touring:
Madonna di Campiglio is not generally renowned for its off-piste, but if you know where to look (or better still, hire a guide who does) there are some great runs to be had here. If the snow's good, there are some nice lines down from Monte Spinale down through the trees.
If you're happy to strap on skins and go touring, your options become exponentially more exciting. Ride the lift up to the top of the Passo Grosté and you have the whole of the Brenta Dolomites to explore, or head up the other side and you're into the Adamello Brenta National Park.
Madonna di Campiglio - Restaurants, Bars & The Town:
Madonna di Campiglio is a pretty Alpine town with a smart, car-free centre. Nearby is a small park and a lake which is used for skating and there are some good cross country trails in the valley.
There are some buzzy bars for après, especially at the foot of Monte Spinale. Food throughout the resort is also usually a highlight, both at the many excellent mountain restaurants and in town. Over recent years, gourmet dining has become a huge feature in the area.
Here, three Michelin-starred restaurants can tempt diners looking for the best in Italian cuisine, including Il Gallo Cedrone, the Ristorante Dolomieu and the Stube Hermitage. But even if your pockets are not that deep, Madonna can cater for most tastes - so long as you like Italian food!
Madonna has a reputation for its après ski that rivals that for its actual skiing. 'People watching' begins as soon as the lifts close. In most places around the resort the bars and restaurants retain quiet sophistication until the small hours, when the legendary nightclubs really start to buzz. If you're visiting at a busy holiday weekend, some stay open through to the time when the lifts re-open in the morning . Bars worth checking out include Ober 1, the Home Stube and . the up-market Cantina Suisse which is popular for cocktails and has live music until midnight.
Off-slope activities include dog-sledding, tobogganing, paragliding, ice climbing and a wealth of spas and wellness centres, as well as galleries, delis and smart shops.
Madonna di Campiglio - Ski Hire: