I love living in cities. Maybe it’s just part of growing
older – ahem – more mature, but now I find that to continue to enjoy living in cities, I need to escape them occasionally. And I’m not sure if there’s a better escape than a skiing get-away.
Italy has lots of great skiing destinations in the northern part of the country, but I enjoy the convenience of a destination closer to home: the region of Abruzzo, which neighbors Rome’s Lazio. For the past eight years I’ve been going to Ovindoli, a little resort about a 1½-hour drive from Rome. All but the last 15 km is easy highway driving. It is equidistant from the airport in Pescara, on the Adriatic coast.
Abruzzo is an ideal travel destination in all seasons. In the winter there is downhill and cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating. In the summer, there is fantastic hiking, biking and horseback riding. Abruzzo is still a fairly undiscovered Italian region and tourist masses never descend upon the charming mountain towns in the same numbers as they do in neighboring regions such as Tuscany and Umbria. Yet the towns are lovely, the food and wine extremely good, the mountain air rejeuvenating and the nature breathtaking.
Food in Abruzzo is simple, but excellent. Regional specialties include the chitarra pasta, fresh egg pasta – thicker than linguine, but narrower, and cut with a stringed instrument that resembles a guitar, hence the name – served with the local saffron cream sauce, delicious gnocchi (especially good in this potato-producing region) with ragù (tomato sauce with meat), sausages, scamorza (melted cheese) or arrosticini (lamb skewers), all of it perfectly accompanied by the regional red wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Monte Magnola is the resort that is 3 km from the town of Ovindoli. Parking is available or you can take a shuttle bus service from the town’s main square. The mountain is panoramic and is popular with skiers and snowboarders. You can enjoy great views of the Apennines’ highest peak – the Gran Sasso- from the trails. There are also easy slopes for children and beginner skiers and lessons can be easily arranged.
Just a few kilometers from Ovindoli is a second ski resort, Campo Felice . The closest towns are Rocca di Cambio (at 1434 meters from sea level, this is the highest town in the Apennine mountain range) and Rocca di Mezzo.
This isn’t an area used to lots of foreign tourism, so fewer people will speak English or other foreign languages. Nevertheless, I’ve been hearing more foreign languages on the slopes in recent years, so it’s nice to see that not only Romans are making it out to this unspoiled region.
Enjoy your Abruzzo skiing holiday! I was there last week and the only hard part was coming back…