Eight Reasons Not To Go Skiing in Tuscany
- There’s no snow.
Well, technically that’s not true. We had 40cm overnight one night and all the branches of the trees were beautifully covered like in a Christmas card… But who wants Christmas scene skiing conditions?!
2. It’s crowded.
The Italian resorts are predominantly used by Italians on weekends who drive up from nearby towns and cities. As such it is blissfully quiet midweek and as you’d probably travel weekend to weekend the busier times wouldn’t affect you much anyway.
My private instructor took me through the forest to an unpisted black run at around 10am and there wasn’t a track in sight – pure heaven on virgin powder! Unless the crowds muwere in the bars (where they serve Prosecco which is a refreshingly bubbly alternative to glühwein or vin chaud) or having a five-course lunch in a slopeside restaurant (we did both later in the day. I’ll admit that I felt I could be rolled down the mountain back to the cable car after lunch!
3. It’s too far.
Well, with transfer times from Florence of around an hour by car they’re significantly less than many of the French resorts. (There are also other airport options – Pisa, Modena and Bologna for example.) This shows that smaller resorts aren’t necessarily harder to get to. Abetone extends along the crest of the Apennine Mountains and sits between Tuscany and Emilia Romana. What’s particularly unique about the location is that from the summit of Mount Gomito you can the Tyrrhenian Sea and Corsica on sunny days!
4. There’s nothing for non-skiers.
On the contrary, there are plenty of possiblities from snow-shoeing (you’ll definitely work up an appetite with this) or zooming up to the summit on a snowmobile, and there are plenty of other activities available. Further down the mountain there is also a local jam producer who, along with his daughter who speaks English, gives tours of his quaint production line. In the valley you can also test your nerve on one of the longest suspension bridges in Europe or browse the boutiques.
5. It’s expensive
You may think of Italy and think of the expensive fashion labels of Milan, or the costly costas of Amalfi but here you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Real value for money is represented here with lift passes coming in much less than the bigger resorts and combined with friendly locals and great cuisine it makes an inspired choice for those new to skiing or looking to combine a few days on the mountain with discovering a new Italian city or getting lost amongst the cypress trees of the Tuscan hills. Half price child places can be found in many hotels, even during the school holidays making it the perfect place for young families to come and try skiing without breaking the bank.
6. The food is awful.
I’m sure you can guess this one wasn’t going to be true! Hand-rolled pasta laden with mushrooms and venison… the typical Florentina steak “tagliata” topped with parmesan and rocket served with salty polenta fries… cakes made with berries from the local woods (with a healthy side of Chianti or Brunello wine)… they combine to make for a delightfully hearty treat after all the energy you’ll have expended on the slopes.
The quality of the food is amazing and restaurants proudly boast about their produce. I enthused about a chilli sauce to one owner and he promptly went away and came back with a bagful for me to take home as a gift – that’s what you call service! Our Italian guide was given the embarrassing task of translating of a certain pasta dish we were to try… “orgasm pasta”. With the wine flowing you can imagine the giggles we had during that course… we all confirmed the name was very apt!
7. The accommodation is below par.
I discovered numerous characterful properties with lovely owners at very reasonable prices (as mentioned even offering half-price children’s places). One thing to note was that the star rating is most definitely not reflective of the quality of accommodation or cuisine. In Italy the hotel can even choose to reduce their star rating and many do so to help with taxes and government requirements necessary for 4-star and above properties. You very pleasantly surprised by the 3-star properties on offer in the region.
8. There’s no culture.
Italy has the most Unesco sites in the world so you’ll never ben far from a cultural delight. Secret Abetone is perfectly positioned to allow you to be able to combine skiing with culture. You can be skiing one day, at a cookery school in a tiny hilltop village the next, and taking in the mighty Duomo of Florence on the third. The possibilities of twin or multi-centre itineraries are endless…
From the beautiful Siena to Pisa’s Leaning Tower, an authentic spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna or vinegar tasting in Modena, the walled-city of Lucca to the hiking trails of the Cinque Terre… You may need to come back again to fit it all in!
So as you can see there is absolutely no reason to go skiing in Tuscany. Please stay home and leave it for me to return to instead!