Following on from our previous articles on the most difficult ski runs to be found in the Alps, we now turn to Italy to see what this magnificent country has on offer. Italy isn’t as well known for its heart-stoppingly difficult ski runs as the other Alpine countries, but you can still find one or two – or, in this case, several – to amuse yourself and test your thigh muscles and bravery. Read on for our pick of the hardest ski runs throughout the Italian Alps and Dolomites.
Pista Alberto Tomba, Vigo di Fassa in the Val di Fassa
Up in Vigo di Fassa you’ll find a consistently steep black slope which burns up your thigh muscles and develops into a tree-lined run. This is the Pista Alberto Tomba, or the Tomba for short, a 2km run named after the Olympic technical skier, who used to train very frequently in Vigo di Fassa. Alberto Tomba, whose nickname was Tomba la Bomba (which means Tomba the Bomb, rather than “Tomba Who Tumbles Down Mountains” as it sounds) won three Olympic golds, two World Championships and nine World Cup season titles. He can still be found skiing for pleasure in this area. On an interesting note, Vigo di Fassa is a mountain village in which 85% of the inhabitants natively speak Ladin, an unusual language derived from Latin but took a different path to Italian – keep an ear out for the locals talking.
The Pista Alberto Tomba is steep but it’s fairly wide – get an idea of it here:
The good people behind the Flying Fox XXL in Leogang, Austria, make a good point: Remember zooming across the playground on a flying fox when you were a kid, and how exhilarating it was? Why should you lose that sense of rushing through the air, of being able to fly, just because you’ve grown up? Enter the Flying Fox XXL – a 1.6km run over the mountains, forests and hills, 143m in the air, travelling at up to 130km an hour, making it one of the longest and fastest cable rides in the world.
Following a short silence we’re back on track with presentaion of what’s new in Alpine ski resorts. A few weeks ago we covered Livigno ski resort. Today, we go with Saalbach.
New in Saalbach Hinterglemm!
New for summer is the Tauern mountain bike path. Saalbach already has an extensive mountain biking circuit for summer use, and they have now connected into the famous trail which runs for 270km along the Salzach and Saalach rivers, taking in castles, palaces and cities along the way. This latest extension of the trail is making Saalbach Hinterglemm one of the best mountain biking regions in Austria. In the 2011/2012 winter season, Saalbach also replaced two old chair lifts with a gondola (Bernkogel) and a heated-seat, six-man chairlift (Reiterkogel-Ost) with a bubble hood.
All that skiing, biking, trekking and mountain climbing can wear a person out. But don’t forget that the Alps are home to some wonderfully relaxing natural springs, thermal waters and spas. Some have been used as health retreats for the wealthy for over a hundred years, some are the most modern standard of luxury and decadence, while still more are small, intimate and friendly. Here is our comprehensive list of thermal baths and spas in the Alps of France and Switzerland, and what they can do for you after a hard day on the slopes.
Perfect rest after a day of skiing. This picture shows natural spa in Leukerbad, Switzerland.
Playing golf up a mountain is a rather special experience, with amazing panoramic views galore and varied and challenging golf courses. Here is a collection of our favourite highest golf courses up in the Alps – you shouldn’t quite get altitude sickness, but you’ll definitely be putting more effort in than usual! Unsurprisingly, France and Switzerland take most of the prizes for golf clubs at altitude, though Italy gets an impressive look-in with Europe’s highest 18 hole golf course…