Choosing Italy to Ski!!
As promised, here’s my blog on our amazing, what I’m calling ‘ski-moon’. It’s taken me longer than intended to write this as I’ve had to whittle it down so much; I must have loved Livigno as my fingers have never typed so hard. So, I apologise that it is slightly longer than my usual blogs, and I also apologise to Tom (if he reads this!) for the terrible photos I have of him... just please focus on the food everyone ;)
I was so excited about the thought of skiing in Italy. The thought of pizzas and lasagnas for lunch; washed down with prosecco, and then an apres ski fuelled by aperol spritz and delicious Italian wines just ticked all of my boxes.
We decided to fly to Milan the day after our wedding, just to continue our high. I had booked to stay in Bellano on Lake Como to help break up the 3 hour drive to Bormio. I also thought we’d appreciate an early-ish night. Ha.... well, we ended up arriving at 1am (thanks RyanAir for the 3 hour delay) and in fear that we wouldn’t be able to get into the B&B. Luckily, the lady opened up in her pajamas and, with bleary eyes, showed us to our room. We both breathed a sigh of relief and crashed into bed.
Waking up the next morning was lovely as the views from the B&B were beautiful. We had an interesting breakfast consisting of incredibly sweet cakes and bread, fruit, yoghurt and cereal. Breakfast was always the one thing I struggled with in Italy; For a country known for its delicious food; breakfast was always slightly disappointing. Not so much if you love your cake and chocolate cereal though!
We drove on to Bormio, hoping for a scenic route next to the lake, however, like many other coastal drives through Italy, it was largely made up of long tunnels, so most of our journey was in the dark, with absolutely no view! 2 hours later, we arrived in Bormio and admittedly, we were slightly disappointed by the lack of snow in the resort. Tom suggested that we drive onto Livigno, where it’s 1800m above sea level as there would be a higher possibility of snow.
Just a note: I’m conscious that this is quite a long blog but Livigno deserves it, so please scroll to the bottom if you want the highlights!!
After a very pretty 45 minute mountainous drive, we descended into a lovely picturesque snowy town. It’s amazing what snow can do - our moods were automatically lifted and we couldn’t wait to get out and ski! We parked up and sought to find a hotel. Rather than spending hours trawling through TripAdvisor, we decided to pop into a few of the hotels, asking to book there and then - Booking.com who?! We ended up booking ‘Hotel Crosal’ for a mere 125 euros a night. I did think, given that it was our ‘ski-moon’ that we might splash out slightly, but actually everything about the hotel suited us. The service was really friendly, the room was lovely and it had its own spa. It was also metres from the ski lifts and restaurants. Perfect.
Next stop: Lunch. We had possibly the best pizza of the trip at a restaurant called ‘Le Mirage’. ‘Pizza Diavola’ came with pepperoni and peppers and Tom even said, “this is the best pizza I have ever had”, quickly followed with “besides yours of course!” But seriously, given that we weren’t even that hungry when it came, it was up there in one of the best I’ve had too… and only 8 euros too. We had a couple of beers to wash the pizza down with too.
By this point, it was 230pm and we agreed that it was mad to be at the bottom of a slope and not skiing so we raced to get into our sallopettes and got our ski hire sorted. I'm not quite sure how we did it but we managed to get on the gondola at 3pm! So much for slow Italian service! A ski pass at Livigno is around 45 euros per day, or 36 euros for half a day. We had such a fun couple of hours skiing around the 78 runs Livigno had to offer. I was a little wary about going skiing with Tom, as he skiied competitively with the army for months and he is just RIDICULOUS - but I was proud of myself for 'kind of' keeping up with him and not falling over!
We had two full days skiing before we had to fly back home. Unfortunately, although it snowed quite heavily during our time in Livigno. Perfect if you're walking around the town, but not so great on the slopes. It was the kind of weather you dread when you go skiing - heavy, windy snow which makes it impossible to see where you’re going. However, there was a big benefit in that no-one else was mad enough to ski in it - so Tom and I basically had the slopes to ourselves. It was such good fun and I’m so happy that we ploughed through and made the best of the situation.
We had some delicious meals while we were in Livigno. Everything was just on our doorstep; we never had to walk more than a few hundred metres. There was a huge selection of restaurants, varying from pasta restaurants, traditional Italian to burger bars. We opted for our usual approach to dining and went for a tapas crawl of Livigno. We managed to tick a LOT of the restaurants of the list so rather than write about each one; I've summed them up below;
Tea Borch - this was a great find - it almost felt quite exclusive as you could only get to this restaurant if you opted for the black run; and it was a real black run at that! Steep, icy and generally not nice… but the restaurant was SO worth it. It had a great view and even better pizzas for only 8 euros. We shared a Diavola and had a beer to wash it down with. So good, but be careful of drinking too much as you have to take the black the whole way down!! There’s literally no other way.
Dosde - this is a pasta restaurant, and attracted us because it looked very classy from the outside. Tom was very surprised that I chose here as I'm not a big pasta eater, but the wedding is over now - so it's time to EAT! ;) We shared a veal tagliatelle and had two glasses of prosecco at 3 euros each. The food was nothing special but the restaurant had a nice atmosphere.
Cervo - we were recommended this by a local and decided to spend our final evening here, including all three courses, rather than have an evening of tapas crawling. It was a lovely looking restaurant with glass tables and deerskin chairs, and the service was brilliant. There was a good range of local dishes and everything tasted great, but it didn’t stand out ahead of any of the others.
Camanel - we skiied to this restaurant as we had heard great things. It came with great views (well, if it wasn't snowing!) but awful service and expensive prices. We shared a basket of chips and two beers. This was probably the worst stop of the trip. However, there is a fancier restaurant upstairs but we weren’t keen on big lunches in between skiing, so didn’t try it.
Bella Vita - you could ski the whole way down to this restaurant, it's right at the bottom of the slope. Although it does a wider food menu, we went for crepes, cappucinos and tiramisu. The food was okay, but the coffees were the best we had during our stay. Also, you got to see people zooming down the mountain, which was brilliant.
La Grolla - we had lunch here on our last day. It was always packed and the canteen vibe inside had previously put us off, however, we opted to sit outside as it was such a lovely sunny day. The service was so quick and we immediately received our customary breadsticks and basket of bread. I ordered an aperol spritz, which came with free crisps and Tom had another pizza (obviously) and I had pork knuckle, the local spinach dumplings and polenta. Both were delicious and proved a perfect way to end our trip in Livigno.
Bivio Bistro - pretty much in the middle of the town; it has fire pits outside and was busy every time we walked past it. It had such a nice atmosphere from the second you walk inside and had a delicious range of cocktails and wines. The best part was obviously the food! Every evening from 6.30pm, they had a delicious buffet spread from 6.30pm every evening - you could fill a plate (either 10 euros or 15 euros, depending on size) with the most delicious array of Italian antipasti including cured meats, grilled vegetables, mozzarella, various salads and deep fried treats. I, obviously piled our plate as much as I could get away with. We also ate off the a la carte menu on one of the nights; which was also delicious - possibly the best lasagne I’ve had in Italy.
‘Bait del Ghet’ - this place had queues at every hour of the day - we couldn’t understand how a restaurant could be so good that people could justify standing outside in the cold for so long. So, one night at around 930pm we decided to join the masses, and give it a go. We didn’t have to wait too long outside as the queue moves pretty quickly, but as soon as you get inside - you’re thrown into the hussle and bussle of a tiny aperitivo bar. The best part? All the alcohol is free! They just leave bottles of Prosecco and aperol on the side for people to help themselves to while they wait. There’s also the obligatory crisps! Absolutely brilliant. I’m well acquainted with ‘aperitivo’ - where you get free nibbles with your drinks, but not the other way around!
We were sat within 15 minutes and couldn’t wait to order, as the restaurant had a wood fired oven and the pizzas looked amazing. We ordered a bottle of sparkling water as I didn’t really need much more after my mini aperitivo session! We decided to share a Pizza Speciale with a mixed salad. Unfortunately, we never found out how the pizza tasted because they forgot us… but at least we got some salad!
Despite being forgotten about on our first evening, we still wanted to give it a go so we popped in for lunch, in between skiing. It was just as busy, but we received our pizza this time! Verdict? Pretty good - solid 7/10, but it wasn’t as good as Le Mirage and it was just a little too chaotic in the restaurant. So, all in all - yes I would probably recommend it as it’s just so different and you get free prosecco - winner every time, right? But if you’d like a more civilised, calmer experience - maybe give it a miss.
Livigno Quick Facts! 1816m elevation; on the Swiss border, with 78 runs.
It’s also ‘tax free’ so alcohol is super cheap here - there are over 200 shops too! I likened it to the Bicester Village of the slopes.
Highlights: Friendly service - awesome range of restaurants - delicious food - great prices - wide red runs - little to no queuing at the lifts - wide red runs with beautiful views - hardly any British!
Fireworks every night at 630pm
Free skiing in off season
Nearest airport: Innsbruck (flying to Milan was a mistake on our parts!)