Skiarea Valchiavenna 2012/2013: Opener
Yes, we currently live in Stockholm (Sweden and not WI) so it's just a little more than a two hour flight to Linate. I've done som free-lance assignments for a Milano-based company for many years and there are a few skiers there who recommended Madesimo as a good family resort--snow reliable and a fairly easy commute from the city.
Thanks for your kind offer--but I have already booked a hotel (Meridiana) and a car at the airport. Any advice or recommendations regarding skiing, restaurants or the drive up there from Milano will be very welcome and much appreciated, of course. We'll arrive on February 21st and leave on the 27th.
Meridiana is a good choice. Very convenient, one of the more atmospheric hotels there too. As far as the drive goes, it's a nasty bit of work, lots of construction around Monza, traffic all day until that point. Should be clear from there. Just take it slow. The road from Campodolcino up to the resort is one of the most treacherous in the Alps. If the road is dry and it's daylight, do it for the experience. Otherwise, follow the signs for Isola from Campodolcino, that road takes you to Madesimo too, but it's much less curvy, adding only a km or two. Also, you have to have chains in the car or snowtires by law.
Soldanella for pizza, simple fare, most likely to be alive during week
Osteria Vegia for atmosphere
Cantinone has a Michelin star
Slightly outside town of note: Bicocca in Pianazzo, Vittoria up on the pass (road is sometimes closed), Sorgente over by the Arlecchino lift.
You can also eat at the Larici station at mid-mountain some nights, the gondola ride up is free.
For skiing, bottom part of hill is all fast lifts and mostly cruisy, nothing special. All the serious skiing is off the tram, which only runs every half hour on weekdays and shuts at lunchtime (though Feb might be busy enough that they'll run continuous hours, you never know). There's lots and lots of offpiste at the top, I can give you some indications if you're into that.
Thanks a ton for that post. I've rented a car from Europcar--I'll make a note about checking that they have winter rubber on or put some chains in the trunk (I guess if it's the law they can't rent us an "illegal" vehicle without potential trouble?). We'll be driving mid day (1ish), so traffic might be slightly lighter compared to rush hour, I hope.
Also making a note about taking the longer route toward Isola, unless top notch conditions.
Will be skiing with my kids (7&10). They're both still learning (aren't we all), so if there are any good "introductory" off piste runs you can recommend at the top, I'd be greatful.
Ok. The chain thing is law locally, not nationally, so it's likely you won't get chains with your rental (if I remember correctly in US, they never give you chains). But, unless it's absolutely dumping, you won't need to be chained up, just legally need a pair in the car.
You could also consider a slightly longer route, driving via Como and then along the NORTHERN side of the lake. It's considerably slower without traffic but competitive if there's traffic on the south side, as there will be, and the north side of the lake is far more scenic. Just a thought.
Pretty much any of the runs at the bottom are fine for kids midweek. On the weekends I'd stick to Val di Lei at the top with them assuming it's sunny (will be whiteout if not and there's no tree cover for definition up there). If you want to do lessons midweek for kids shouldn't be a problem finding an instructor. I know a really good one as well though he doesn't speak English.
Edited by prickly - 12/3/12 at 3:00am
I'll make sure to have chains in the car. If we want a guide or instruction, I'll let you know. The 10-year old should be ok and is up for most stuff on groomed (she's doing her first season racing in Sweden) and would probably handle some off piste w/o problems, but the 7-year olds technique and endurance just isn't there yet.
I'll have a look at the map think about the route options. We're driving up on a Thursday, so I guess traffic will be a little less compared to a Friday.
It'll be -5C and bluebird skies during the day, and then dump at night.