Sestriere, Italy Ski Holidays

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Two round towers dominate the view here in Sestriere; these were among the resort's first hotels and were built in the 1930s. Club Med presently owns the towers as part of its famous 'village'. But despite its unstylish look, Sestriere draws in quite a following and is pretty popular with the Italian glamour bunch. The village features multiple swanky boutiques, and food and drink are generally quite high-priced.

The ski slopes above Sestriere go down from the peak of Sises. The Cit Roc and Garnel four-seater chairlifts whisk you just over halfway up, and from there, several short but sweet reds and blacks whirr back down to Sestriere, or go to some uncrowded slopes in the Grangesises region.

The novices' areas in Sestriere are ample, though they are mainly served by draglifts and are consequently no good to novice snowboarders. Those needing to progress and venture up the mountain must not be put off by the reds labeled on the map - these are typically quite gentle.

Expert skiers should take the Chisonetto Banchetta chairlift, which takes you to several challenging black runs. After a couple of days on these slopes, you might want to take advantage of the rest of the Via Lattea (Milky Way) system, which can be accessed through the Col Basset gondola. And from here, the Sansicario and Sauze d'Oulx areas feature all modes of delights on offer. To return to Sestriere, take a long red from the top of Col Basset that winds below the gondola, although the lower half is frequently closed.

Sestriere isn't the most convenient base for skiing the entire Via Lattea, because it sits on the extreme of the area and so demands plenty of careful planning to cover ground without missing the last lift going home. Although it's technically possible to ski over to Montgenevre, you'd have to rise up at dawn, negotiate about 27 different lifts, and begin leading back the instant you're done with your cafe au lait in France. A much better alternative is by traveling by road and taking an entire day to explore Montgenevre and Claviere - a return taxi ride would be enough.

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