Madonna di Campiglio is a chic mountain resort in North-East of Italy, sprawling along a shallow valley below the majestic Dolomites in the Trentino region.
In 1911, a group of Englishmen were the first people to try skiing down the mountains above Madonna di Campiglio. In those days it was popular for walkers in the summer but was inaccessible in winter.
They walked up Spinale Mountain and then descended on skis. They were ridiculed in the local press but this humble beginning laid the foundation for some splendid skiing. Today, the Spinale Mountain boasts a cabin lift, a state of the art 6-seater chair lift with heated seats, a cover, and four other chair lifts. It is linked to the other four ski areas above the town.
The peaks of the Brenta Dolomites rise above Madonna di Campiglio and four of them offer excellent skiing during the winter. Access to the well-groomed slopes above the town is provided by a linking system of cabin and chair lifts.
Any one of the four cabin lifts that ascend from the town, Cinque Laghi, Pradalago, Grosté and Spinale give access to the whole ski area above Madonna di Campiglio. The resort is also linked by lifts to three other ski resorts Pinzolo, Marilleva and Folgarida. Together they are known as the SkiArea and offer a total of 156 of interconnected runs. It is the largest ski area in Trentino.
Other winter sports are available in and around Madonna di Campiglio. At the top of the Grosté ski area there is a large snowboarding park. On the outskirts of the town a cross-country ski centre offers three graded circuits.
The lake in the centre of town is converted into an ice skating rink during the winter. It is also featured in the Winter Marathon when hundreds of veteran cars arrive here to take part in the annual event that culminates in the final stage – a race around the frozen lake. Snowshoe walking is also a popular activity, as is husky sledding. For the more adventurous, paragliding is available.
Trento, the capital town of Trentino, is on the local bus route and offers an interesting day out for those who are looking for a break from skiing. This pretty Tyrolean town features the Castello del Buonconsiglio and MUSE, a fascinating museum about mountain life and the history of the region.
For those who prefer to stay local Madonna di Campiglio is renowned for its luxury shopping. And after browsing the shops enjoy an Aperol Spritz in the Bar Suisse. This favoured café for locals and visitors was once the hunting lodge of Emperor Franz Josef.
Where to Stay
Madonna di Campiglio is dominated by excellent 4-star hotels both in the town centre and on its periphery but also available are some delightful bed and breakfast accommodations and self-catering apartments.
Although Hotel Lorenzetti is on the outskirts of the town a regular free shuttle service offers quick access to all the ski lifts in the town. It is also within walking distance of the cabin lift at Colarin. This links the town with the slopes on Cinque Laghi in one direction and the slopes above the next town down the mountain, Pinzolo. It has a parking area at the front and underground parking in a garage. This 4* hotel offers 5* food and service as well as the best views in the resort as it lies in the shadow of the Brenta Dolomites. Accommodation from small double rooms to large family suites means this hotel is suitable for everyone, from single skiers to families and small groups.
For those who prefer a central location within walking distance of the ski lifts during the day and the bars and restaurants in the evening, Hotel Caminetto is a good choice. This modern hotel offers stays on a bed-and-breakfast basis and an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere in this busy mountain resort. The rooms are comfortable and well-equipped and there are two ski lifts within walking distance.
Eating and drinking
Madonna di Campiglio is renowned for the quality of the food offered in its mountain restaurants. The excellent system of cabin lifts means several of them are accessible to both skiers and non-skiers. These include Boch at the mid-station of the Grosté cabin lift and Stoppani at the top of the Grosté cabin lift. Chalet Fiat at the top of the Spinale cabin lift has a large self-service area (and the best chips in the area). Very fine dining is available here in their beautiful restaurant with stunning views of the Grosté ski area across the valley. This restaurant offers gourmet food and traditional dishes at 2,100 metres.
The lovely Ristorante Viviani is my favourite. Situated just below the top of the Pradalago cabin lift it has both a large self-service area and a cosy restaurant. The weekly menu in the restaurant offers tasty traditional dishes plus panoramic views of the ski area below.
Tucked away on the lower slopes of the Pradalago ski area just off a blue run is the traditional Cascina Zeledria which offers hearty traditional dishes using produce from its own farm. This restaurant is also accessible by road so there is nothing to hinder the purchase of excellent cheeses and hams from their farm shop.
Getting there: The nearest airport is Verona Valerio Catullo Airport. However you can also transfer from Venice, Treviso, Bolzano and both airports in Milan.
Transfers: A co-operative of bus and taxi companies, the FLYSKI Shuttle offers transfers from several airports to the resorts of Trentino including Madonna di Campiglio.
Getting around: The Trentino Guest Card is available for guests staying in the hotels here and includes free public transport as well as access to numerous attractions.
Ski school: Ski schools and ski hires are numerous in Madonna di Campiglio. My recommendations are the Rainalter Ski School whose instructors I have used for the past 26 years and the new Lorenzetti Ski Hire which I discovered this winter.
Good time to get there: Trentino was once part of the Austro-Hapsburg Empire and a favourite retreat of Sissi, wife of Franz Josef. This heritage is celebrated every February during the week-long Hapsburg Carnival. The locals dress in period costume to re-enact the arrival of the royal party. A costume ball closes the celebrations in the Des Alpes Hotel where the Hapsburg Court took up residence.
More info: Visit the website Madonna di Campiglio