Bella Baita's View
If you haven't already made all of your winter getaway plans, let me suggest the beautiful Italian alps, or more specifically our Cottian Alps. Where, you may ask, is that? Why, where I live, of course, off the beaten path in the Chisone valley. You might think this is a post for drumming up business for our B&B, but you would only be partially right. Frankly, winter is our off season. We live just far enough away from the slopes that most folks want to be right there at the base of the area and not worry about driving. I don't blame them. Plus when Fabrizio's family ran the restaurant, this was their down time as well, so it's hard to buck a long established pattern. So we have some solutions coming up with the remodel that Fabrizio is so hard at work on, ripping and shredding his parents previous hard work, but that's for another day or two's post.
The conditions in the Italian alps this winter are excellent and would make for a nice break for those of you inclined to ski or snowboard in Europe or even just a winter holiday with a bit of snow shoeing or tobogganing. We found that we had a white Christmas at our house this year. Sestrierė our sentinel ski resort at the top of our valley is snow sure and this year has not been an exception. World famous as a world cup and the site of the down hill competition for the 2006, Winter Olympic games, it is also one of 7 interconnected ski resorts, making up the "Via Lattea" or "Milky Way" ski area, boasting to be the largest in Europe. Sauze d'Oulx, another of the resorts connected in, is just up and over the way where a fair amount of British holiday makers find their way every year. It's big alright and plenty of terrain to keep you entertained.
I particularly enjoy the Borgata side of Sestriere which has the long Olympic down hill run that will make your legs burn burn burn! Sestriere has a nice selection of mountain oasis to stop in for food and libations scattered on top of both peaks, mid mountain and at the base. If you fancy a special stay on the mountain and I highly recommend it, La Tana della Volpe (The Fox Den)is the ticket. A Pragelato local skier took over the building after it was scraped in 1984 from being the main cable car for the area and breathed new life into this huge on mountain building that still houses the bull wheel from the cable car. He and his family have done extensive renovations over the years and created 9 modern rooms for the hotel part where one can enjoy one of the most breath taking alpine panoramas of the confluence of the French and Italian borders. Have a look at their gallery of views or web camera here.
But can you keep a secret?
If you looking for an area far from the maddening crowds, with spectacular views and decent skiing to boot, then the place for you is "Nova 13 Laghi" (The New 13 Lakes) ski area. Fondly called Prali ski area by those of us from here, it has been taken over by again a local organization who are trying to put it back on the map after languishing up in one of the most beautiful and unspoiled valleys known as one of the Valdasian valleys, or Val Germansca. It's the ridge line view of the Germansca valley that we look out to every day that gives us our Bella Baita View. Tredieci Laghi (13 Lakes) is tucked up around to the left of our view and not only is it one of my favorite ski areas, it also is a wonderful summertime hiking area as well. Prali keeps the lifts open in the summer (€8 round trip tickets), making it an easy way to get up to the top and do some high level walking with the 13 lakes an easy destination. I really can't say enough nice adjectives about what a fun and reasonably priced ski area it is. They replaced their one person chair lift at the base, 2 years ago, thanks to the Olympics, with a high speed 3 person lift and it makes a big difference. The run from top to bottom is another thigh burner and more enticing with this lift to wish you back to the top. Weekend tickets are modestly priced at €20 and €14 during the week. You really can't go wrong especially if you stop in the mountain house and partake of something warming with a view like this now can you.
Monte Bianco visible in the distance