Originally Posted by prickly
That's not exactly true, though it might be the case at some areas I've not skied.
Every Italian resort I've ever skied at allows backcountry skiing at skier's own risk, except when there is extreme avalanche danger, and even then things are up for debate.
Of course there's no patrolling of backcountry areas (there's no patrolling, as US skiers would recognize it, on piste, either), but there isn't patrolling (in the sense of ski patrol) in the backcountry in North America either.
Seconded, otherwise we'd all be fined or arrested for skiing Canalone, Camosci, Cavallina, Angeloga and the likes.
Still, skiing off-piste at many areas its kind of frown upon. Not that there aren't places where one can ski off piste, in fact there are many (one, very easy and famous above all, the Mittagstal on the Sella Ronda).
And with the press "pushing" for sensationalism this year as well, lashes are being tightened...In Piedmont it's been passed a regional law making it compulsory to carry the three main safety pieces (APS in Italian, ARVA, Pala, Sonda : ART avalanche rescue transceivers, shovel and probe) of AT skiing...which makes everyone skiing offpiste, even near a run, passible of fines if not equipped in such a way (again, everything it's up for debate).
In some Italian forum, people are starting to report Police fining them, or attempting to or witnessing such fining, for skiing off-piste at resort w/o the necessary AT equipment (the three above plus skins and AT bindings). All this is unconfirmed, but the main idea that I've made for myself is that it's the usual Italian mess...anyway, at Made, there's a Police station mid mountain and no one that I know of has ever been fined to ski off-piste.
As for "opened for debate" here's the proof :
Last Saturday the lifties were closing the Canalone (it was mid morning by the time they opened the tram the previous day it had snowed), roping it off and still people were "happily" ignoring that.
After a couple of hours, the area was "officially" declared "opened (the Avalanche danger signs were removed)
The only effective way to close that run is to close the access tram to it. And they do that in case of really bad weather and high avalanche risk.
As for the "Cavalese affair" , it was a Marines A6 (EA-6B) Prowler (4 ppl crew).