23 November 2014

The Milky Way – Italy’s temptingly sweet ski area


In the UK, it may mean another thing but the Milky Way is fast becoming a pull for skiers from all over Europe.  Many holidaymakers look at individual resorts without realising that they offer access to a much broader ski area.


Sauze D’Oulx and Sestriere are definitely the big attractions in this ski area but the Milky Way also the less-known San Sicario, Cesana, Pragelato, Claviere and the French Montgenèvre, representing a mouth-watering 212 pistes (7 green, 67 blue, 97 red and 41 black) and 69 ski lifts. Those who only think of going to the Dolomites should really reconsider!




The ski in the Milky Way area is characterized by wide open spaces, panoramic and sunny slopes that connect traditional villages with modern amenities.  From the peaks and slopes you have magnificent views in all centres. The vastness and variety of the area can satisfy both the more demanding skier, thanks to the variety of long and difficult slopes, and those who are dipping their toes into the world of skiing for the very first time.  Snowboarders are also well catered for in the Milky Way with a fantastic new snowboard fun park available in Sestriere as well as mini parks available in each of the resorts themselves.


As a destination it's much more laid back than its rivals in France, Switzerland and Austria, so expect a great all-round holiday experience.

Family fun



For families, there are a myriad of activities available to children; fun parks with inflatable structures, great ski schools and plenty of off-piste activities.  Families with young children are welcomed even in the most chic hotels and restaurants.

Tasty food


Lovers of Italian cuisine will be completely satisfied by the Milky Way: there are over 30 mountain huts comforting skiers who prefer to stay on the slopes all day – prices are great in comparison to other resorts and neighbouring France. You will find plenty of pasta and Lasagna on offer but also more traditional mountain stews served with flavoursome and wholesome polenta, which is famous from the north of Italy.


How to get there

The Milky Way skiing area is located in Piemonte and is within easy reach thanks to its privileged geographic position and to the proximity to Turin airport. Most resorts can be reached within an hour of the airport, making them an ideal ski weekend or week’s holiday destination. Other connections are also available from Geneva, Nice and Milan. For those contemplating to attire by train, high speed trains stop daily at Oulx from Rome, Turin, Lyon and Paris.

Accommodation


Holiday Homes in Italy offers a great range of affordable ski accommodation from quaint Italian bed and breakfasts to self-catering ski apartments suitable for both families and larger ski groups.


View ski apartments in Sauze D’Oulx

View hotels and b&b’s in Sauze D’Oulx

View ski apartments in Sestriere

View hotels and b&b’s in Sestriere

5 October 2014

2014/15 Italian ski season prices released

Italian ski accommodation


With only a couple of months away until the start of the ski season, Holiday Homes in Italy is pleased to release prices for Italian ski accommodation.


Italian ski resorts


Skiing in Italy is a friendly and relaxed affair, involving not just skiing, but eating, drinking and sunbathing!  This season, we are pleased to offer a variety of locations, from quieter family resorts, to lively and chic resorts.  With a mix of old and new, ski resorts in Italy continue to delight visitors with their traditional customs and stylish facilities.

Food is one of the cornerstones of Italian culture, so expect some great food both off and on the slopes.  In addition to this, most Italian ski resorts have plenty of bars and nightlife, so apres-ski can be lively, particularly at the weekends.


This season, we are pleased to include the following resorts in our portfolio:



All resorts are well-served by flights from the UK and worldwide.

Ski accommodation


We offer a wide choice of ski accommodation in Italian ski resorts from fantastic ski apartments to chalets, B&B's and luxury hotels, with something to suit every budget and requirement. We also offer a wide range of resorts, so you can choose on the basis of facilities, piste network and altitude.

Click here to view our Italian ski accommodation


Book early

There's money to be saved with planning ahead - if you are thinking of taking a ski holiday this winter, book early!  Leaving bookings to the last minute will not necessarily result in an excellent deal as Italian ski resorts notoriously stick to advertised prices and airline ticket prices often increase close to the departure date.  If you book early, not only are you more likely to secure the desired resort and accommodation but also benefit from reasonable flights and early bird booking discounts.

23 September 2014

Selva Val Gardena – the crown in the Sella Ronda ski circuit



The Sella Ronda is one of the most famous ski circuits with 24 km of terrain that can be skied in either direction around the vast jagged Sella Massif mountain, and many of the resorts are connected from here. It provides lift-linked access to the valleys of Alta Badia, the Val di Fasse region and the Val Gardena area, including Selva Gardena, home to the annual World Cup Downhill races.

Selva itself is undoubtedly one of the most famous and popular villages in the Alps. The stunning and often dramatic scenery of the Dolomites combined with relatively easy access, has meant this resort should be on the shortlist of anyone wanting a real Italian ski holiday.


Selva is a long roadside village in a spectacular setting of the Val Gardena. Part of the charm of the valley is that is that it is steeped in history; visitors can enjoy a skiing holiday with modern facilities but where traditional life and customs still exist.  For many years, the area was part of Austria, and it still retains its Tirolean charm today as German is more widely spoken than Italian. Expect to see lots of traditional wood crafts and quaint mountain huts!


You won’t feel isolated here as there is a lot to explore; Santa Cristina, the next village down the valley, almost merges with Selva and further down the valley is Ortisei, the main town of Val Gardena, set beneath the distinct Alpe di Siusi area.

Hitting the slopes



In terms of skiing, you are spoilt for choice; Selva is great for snowmaking (when required) and offers excellent slopes with a real mixture of open and wooded areas.

Beginners can expect some seriously good nursery slopes; the blue runs in the Plan de Gralba area are gentle, quiet and perfect for getting up to speed. The village nursery slopes below the Dantercëpies gondola are excellent; spacious and convenient and perfect for adults and children alike.


There is plenty of fast cruising available to intermediates with some great long red runs and some challenging runs for expert skiers. The Val Gardena World Cup piste, the Saslong, is one of several steepish runs from Ciampinoi and one not to miss!

Eating out and having fun



Selva Val Gardena has a wide range of restaurants that offer both Austrian and Italian dishes, the quality is very good and many are great value too. The mountain restaurants are a real treat; think lively and character filled huts with warm, traditional fare.


Although not a real party town, Selva does offer quite a good apres-ski scene. There are some seriously good bars; one with an outdoor DJ, others offering live music and there is a nightclub for those looking to party until late. At the same time, it’s very easy to find a quaint pub and mix with the locals.

An all-rounder



All in all, Selva is a great all-rounder. There is a huge amount of skiing to do, and in several areas. Many come to ski the Sella Ronda but it is equally possible just to stay in Selva and its surrounding resorts without feeling the urge to venture further. There are some wonderful quaint restaurants and a real warm and traditional feel about the place. Those looking for a genuine Italian ski getaway and a blast of nostalgia (but with all the mod cons…), should look no further than Selva this season.


How to get there

Innsbruck airport – 1hr 30
Verona airport – 2hr 20
Bergamo airport – 3hr
Venice airport – 3hr 15

Accommodation


Holiday Homes in Italy offers a great selection of accommodation in Selva Val Gardena from a Residence Hotel to some great self-catering apartments – all within easy reach of the town and ski lifts.

View ski accommodation in Selva Val Gardena


22 September 2014

Top Italian resorts for early snow


With summer over and winter fast approaching, many are itching to get those ski boots out of the cupboard. The ski season may seem a while away but there is no reason to drag it out and wait until peak season in Feb. Early ski in Italy is possible in a number of resorts, so those looking to get away for a pre-Christmas break will not only find uncrowded pistes but some great snow, cheaper ski passes and low apartment rental prices.

For those looking for a fabulous ambience with many pre-Christmas festivities, a laid back atmosphere and some fabulous snowsure resorts with beautiful scenery, then Italy is for you!


Bormio - For those owning a Bormio season pass, they have the possibility of being able to ski one more month than on the other ski resorts of the Alps. The ski area of Bormio has this great quality that enables people to advance the opening thanks to the high altitude, the freezing temperatures and the excellence of the snow making system.

Read our Bormio resort guide

View Bormio ski accommodation

Read our Bormio blog


Selva Val Gardena in the Dolomites offers spectacular and varied slopes within one of the most famous ski domains in the world, the Sella Ronda. The village has traditional style and is blessed with altitude and superb snow conditions.

Read our Selva Val Gardena resort guide

View Selva Val Gardena ski accommodation


Gressoney is located in the Monterosa Ski area, which has an extensive network of pistes, pretty villages and outstanding scenery. It is often blessed with excellent early and late season skiing and plenty of wide uncrowded pistes.

Read our Gressoney resort guide

View Gressoney ski accommodation

18 August 2014

Autumn holidays in Italy; smart prices, less crowds and plenty of sunshine


Most tourists visit Italy predictably in the high season months of June, July and August.  You also have to remember that millions of Italians themselves staycation in Italy (can you blame them?) mostly during August. Even September in Italy these days but towards the end of September and October really is a magical time to visit!


Visiting outside of peak season will bring lots of benefits to the potential visitor. Prices for a start are significantly lower and can range from 25% to 50% less than high season – you can normally cherry pick your choice of self-catering villa or apartment with ease.  The weather tends to still be good in September and often well into October in many regions – it can drift easily into the late 20’s in most places but obviously cooler in the mornings and evenings and becomes a little more unsettles to add even more drama to the beautiful landscape. A refreshing change to the often stifling heatwaves of July and August.


Visiting Italy in the autumn will often help you to discover the real regions; visiting historical hamlets and villages without the midsummer crowds, and driving on quiet country roads with crisp blue skies can really be a joy.


Another benefit is the fantastic food. Italian food is always wonderful but during this period, many areas will boast festivals and start harvest season showcasing their local produce.

In terms of activities, it is also perfect for a game of golf and other activities of interest such as sailing and diving, horse riding and fishing.

Where to visit

Autumn is fab all over Italy but here is our pick of areas:

Lake Garda – We love the lakes but they can get so crowded over summer with too many campervans heading down from northern Europe. Once the Italians are back to work and the high season families have scattered, Garda becomes elegant again and a real joy to navigate around.


Tuscany – One of our favourite places like many others but autumn really is a joy here are the roads are not congested and you are not surrounded by tourists at every turn. You can really see the true Tuscany and sample some of the wonderful food and wine.



Sardinia – Most would think of visiting earlier but the weather often holds out. What then remains is a beautiful island; tranquil, endless sandy beaches and enough space to find your own piece of paradise.



Sicily – similar to Sardinia, this island really shines in autumn. You will probably find some of the best weather all over Italy in Sicily in autumn, where the locals will often swim in the sea into November. A truly magical place.



Search our property portfolio for self-catering villas and apartments in Italy


4 August 2014

Italy for the kids – family holidays in italy



When planning a child-friendly holiday that will suit the whole family, there really cannot be a better destination than Italy. There is so much to see and do making it one that suits any age.


Go self-catering


The best and most economical way to see Italy, especially in a family, is to rent a self-catering apartment or villa in a country area for a week.  Even though the accommodation comes with a kitchen, it doesn’t mean you need to use it as there are an abundance of restaurants but often being able to have the familiar snacks and food on hand will contribute an enormous comfort factor for your children.


Not only do you have plenty more space renting a villa or apartment in Italy than taking hotel bedrooms, this type of self-catering holiday offers you privacy and freedom.  There are no schedules or timetables for meals and you can come and go as you please. And, not forgetting, there is no morning urgency to secure a lounger or your place by the pool as the pool is all yours and private; perfect for relaxing or keeping your children safely entertained.  Kids can watch early morning children’s programs on television (they don’t seem to notice which language cartoons are in) and Mums and Dads can have that after dinner quiet time, all in peace and privacy.


For people travelling with young babies, it is worth putting a used pillow slip or blanket in with your packing to provide the comforting smell and feel of home, even if the property is provided with a cot or crib.
Whichever part of Italy you want to see, the regions are jam packed with things to do and experience - you will be spoilt for choice! Each night when you return to the same place and each morning when you wake up in the same beds, your children will relish the familiarity.

The whole family will find it more relaxing to be in the country with day trips to the city rather than the other way around.  Most accommodation comes with a swimming pool or at least a garden or terrace, so cultural excursions can be balanced relaxation time back at the accommodation.

Eating out


Meals in restaurants are much more fun than the UK; most Italians love children and will bend over backwards to welcome them and it is not frowned upon to take children out to a restaurant, piazza or bar in the evening. Over the summer, Italian children often stay up late as there is no school.
Many country restaurants also have lovely gardens or spacious piazzas where the children can play within eyesight, whilst the parents finish their wine.

Culture vultures

One of the biggest challenges for any parent is how to get a dose of city culture. There are guide books for older children (such as those by Dorling Kindersley), which provide simple low downs, suggested itineraries and lots of pictures and diagrams that will help the children to better understand things in a visual way.

Hitting the beach



Italy offers some of the best beaches in Europe and it has always played a major role in The Blue Flag awards given by the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education), which assesses the best beaches and marinas through strict criteria such as water quality, environmental management, safety and services provided close to or within the beach area.  Italy was assigned 248 blue flags in the last year alone!


The beauty of many Italian beaches is that the ‘lido’-style beaches are perfectly family friendly. Each beach normally offers facilities in terms of a bar, showers and toilets. There are lifeguards on hand and even better, many have fenced off play areas for children.


Our recommended areas

Whilst we believe that Italy is completely family-friendly, we have selected our top 3 family-friendly areas:



1. Lake Garda – the largest lake in Italy. This is a great all-round family destination. You have beautiful towns like Torri del Benaco, Garda, Bardolino and Lazise to welcome you, plenty of space for relaxing strolls on the lakes side and sunbathing on the small nice beaches.  You can hire bikes, try watersports or a bit of fun for the families, there are amusement parks like Gardaland, Caneva and Movieland on the doorstep.


View apartments in Lake Garda

View Villas in Lake Garda

Read our Garda blog

Antica Fabbrica
Try Antica Fabbrica - lovely residence with pool and mountain views. The residence also offers many activities including tennis court, table tennis, bowls court, volleyball/Football pitch and a playground for the younger children.


2. Sardinia – if you are looking for a pure beach holiday, Sardinia ticks all the boxes! Sardinia is very family friendly and you will certainly see a lot of well equipped "lido" style beaches, where children can play safely with plenty of activities to keep not only the children happy but adults alike! Sardinia’s beaches have won many awards and have featured highly in International Magazines.


View apartments in Sardinia

View Villas in Sardinia

Read our Sardinia blog

Villa Daisy

Try Villa Daisy - great for families; pool, garden and walking distance of a beach...


3. Tuscany – dotted with vineyards and olive groves, this destination is perfect for a more rural back-to-nature type countryside holiday. Neighbouring Umbria and Le Marche will offer a similar experience but for its sheer beauty and popularity, Tuscany offers offering spectacular scenery, authentic cuisine and a great splash of culture for the parents. The children won’t be bored, you can still take a day trip to the beach, there are water parks and lots of activities like cycling and horse-riding.


View apartments in Tuscany

View Villas in Tuscany

Read our Tuscany blog
Toscana beach
How about The Toscana beach resort? A beautiful property surrounded by nature with 3 pools (including childrens pool), sports facilities and miniclub for children.