Recently I headed to Madonna di Campiglio for a wonderful weekend of skiing. Previously I had been to Canazei in the Sella Ronda. What a lovely place that was! We skied the circuit, stayed in a homely catered chalet that was like four shoeboxes stacked on one another (as if the skiing wasn't enough for my thighs!!) and enjoyed tobogganing at speed at night. Not every night!
So to Madonna di Campiglio. Four of us put the trip together ourselves as it was a cheeky few days away before one of my buying trips for Winternational. January is hectic at Winternational. It's our busiest month (no way!) and we are helping customers 24/7 and continually restocking. Combine this with having to start buying for the next winter and you get the picture. A few days away was too tempting to resist. Madonna (as I now like to call it) was a great choice as its location meant I could head off to other European cities easily to start seeing the new collections.
Here's me posing a bit in the beautiful burgundy ski jacket Pecora by Goldbergh. The colour is wonderful and a great investment as this colour runs on into next winter's collections too.
Madonna di Campiglio is a picturebox place with many treelined pistes. What they lack in length, they make up for interest and how they make you ski. I'm a sucker for views and I found plenty to dream over. Sometimes my dawdling annoyed the faster skiers or more target driven skiers in the group! But with views like this to sigh over who can blame me.
And the sun...it was January. We'd gone expecting white skies and blustery winds and snowfall but oh no, mother nature had different plans for us. Sunshine most of the time but with enough chill to create fresh mornings with that crispy topping to the snow. There's a technical term for that but I can't recall it! I took a warm ski jacket just in case as well as a normal weight one (pics later). However I didn't really need to worry, the weather was very kind although, in case my hands suffered in their usual way, I treated myself to a pair of Goldbergh Hando fur and leather mittens and they did the trick. The insulation is both warm and wicking and the extra padding from the quilted soft leather and the fur outer provides extra warmth. The ski mittens are perfect for creting warmth on very cold days but not overheating on sunnier moments.
I should mention the pizza because I was in Italy and because we found somewhere to go that was so right for our group and our needs. It's not often I visit a restaurant more than once on a short trip as I always want to get the most out of a place and visit as many places as I can, but for The Belvedere an exception was made. It's low key. There are far more swanky restaurants in the town but for us it was a perfect way to end the day on more than a couple of occasions. The atmosphere was lively, noisy and friendly. The clientele was a mix of tourists and locals. There weren't many British skiers there when we were in Madonna. Maybe a sign of the time of year or perhaps the location and the fact that it is not as well known as other Italian ski resorts.
Anyhow, back to the food. The pizzas were light and filling. How do they do that? Buy using very finely stretched dough I think and not overlaying toppings. But my goodness...they were good! There were many other Italian specialities too. I noticed locals choosing steaks sprinkled with rosemary and garlic. I always love a restaurant where the locals eat alongside the holiday makers. It makes me feel part of the community (I wish!) and a bit authentic which is clearly far from the truth but for a moment or two, it's a nice thought to enjoy.
We were really entranced with the skiing in most of this lovely resort. There was a little area called Pinzolo which confused us with a two way lift and a map we couldn't follow. But in some way that added to the rustic charm of the treelined slopes and gave us an excuse for a photo opportunity whilst we examined and re-examined the by now torn piste map. There were plenty of challenging runs too as well as many that snaked their way round the mountains. We glided in and out of the sun and our chalet was luckily situated on a ski out. A nifty right hand turn had to be negotiated to hit the path leading to some interesting (some might say treacherous) steps down to our chalet.
One of the group was celebrating a birthday whilst we were in Madonna. So for lunch that day we visited the renowned Chalet Fiat. Situated at the top of Monte Spinale, this fabulous restaurant is reached by the Spinale cable car or by skiing. At the end of the 19th century, the painter Gottfied Hofer opened the first mountain lodge in the area.
In 2006, the "atelier" became Fiat Chalet and since then, lucky skiers like us have been able to eat and relax there. We opted for lunch up in the mountains but it is possible to eat there at night. I'm saving that for my next visit to Madonna di Campiglio.
Our meal in the dining room was such a treat. Away from the hustle and bustle of the grill, one lone waiter dealt with our group and several others with charm, humour and speed. He even guessed where we came from ...to the exact city and then suggested he might ask the chef to put us something small together for a first course. A couple of wooden platters soon arrived, overflowing with mini pizzas, peppers stuffed with cheese and Italian breads and cold meats. Could we manage our main courses after this? Well luckily I'd chosen pasta which was served in true Italian style in a small portion.
The views from the restaurant were wonderful. We'd sat inside (it was January) but it must be lovely to eat outside on the terrace there swaddled in shearling or cashmere blankets. One of the group decided to stay on longer in the warmth and comfort of the restaurant (and enjoying a bit more après ski) so we left him with the bill and skied the afternoon away, energised and celebratory.
This restaurant isn't large and we'd recommend it highly so please book before you go. I saw a few people being turned away and I felt so sorry for them (because the food and ambience were second to none in the mountains). Top tip from me - book early!
Here you can see me with my middle son, messing about as you do! The snow was so deep but the crust was only just holding us...moments later we crashed through. But you don't need to see the evidence! I'm wearing a Sportalm ski jacket in navy blue (very old) which is quilted with a very fine quilt and on my lower half Goldbergh Pippa ski pants in dark navy (current). My helmet is by Deneriaz as are the goggles. They are super light and so comfortable. I can't recommend them enough.
Many afternoons found us cosied up against the flat light and shadows in a mountain cafe drinking hot chocolate, playing cards and eeking out the day. One slight drawback of skiing early in the year is that some runs close earlier than others and certainly much earlier than at Easter. But with hot chocolate and log fires and the usual group banter (mostly at the person who'd fallen most that day!) it was an easy win.
And that was the theme for the entire visit...a short trip which left us feeling revived in the dark and busy month of January. With views like this, I will definitely be back getting into my groove with Madonna!