What's the skiing like? Cervinia (2050m) has some of the highest slopes in Europe, reaching up to 3480 metres, offering excellent snow coverage and a long ski season lasting November into May. Cervinia is located on the Italian side of the iconic Matterhorn Mountain and skiing over to neighbouring Zermatt on the Swiss side is also possible, offering a combined 322km of slopes, linked with fast, modern lifts.
Best suited to? Beginners and intermediates are spoilt for choice with endless long blue and red runs. Cervinia is also popular with freestyle fans who flock to the Indian terrain park (1.2km long, 200m wide and 11 features).
What's the resort like? The small, car-free village has a pretty centre with charaterful cobbled streets and stylish Italian boutiques. It is popular with famillies and there's a good choice of ski-in/ski-out accommodation thanks to the reliable snowfall. Nighlife in Cervinia isn't too raucous, but livens up considerably at weekends with live music, djs and cocktails.
The views from the Italian side of the border are phenomenal which is not at all surprising considering that the resort is set in a jagged high-altitude basin in the middle of the Matterhorn and Piccolo Cervino (Klein Matterhorn).
Non-skiing activities: Not many non-skiing activities, but plenty of sunny terraces on which to take in the dramatic scenery and enjoy afternoon drinks.
Downside? There's not a huge amount for more advanced skiers/snowboarders to get their teeth into. High winds and low cloud can sometimes hamper conditions.
Nearest airport: Turn (121km/90 minutes)
Cervinia is awash with great restaurants and there are more than 50 restaurants available to suit all tastes and budgets.
Nestled in the centre of town is long-time favourite and cheap-ish Copa Pan. The menu includes steak and chips, pizza, homemade pasta, and fondue. Upstairs is a lively bar with live music. Expect a younger crowd,
Award-winning La Chandelle in Hotel Hermitage is renowned for its creative and international menu. Food is served in a fashionable dining room with wonderful views of the surrounding pine forest. The wine list is highly recommended – ask your waiter to suggest a bottle to compliment your food.
Auberge is famous for its excellent, seasonal food. It’s so good you’ll want to make repeated visits. Specialities include polenta, trout smoked with Valle d’Aosta larch wood, braised meat dishes, and warm chocolate fondant. Chef Damiano Ceva believes in a short supply chain, with ingredients selected from local produce made by small-scale farmers.
On the mountain
On the way down from Cervinia’s longest run, head to Willy’s Bar. It’s a great spot for lunch, popular with visitors and locals.
A little off piste near the start of run no. 9 in Valtournenche is Lo Baracon dou Tene a friendly mountain restaurant with great pasta and reasonable prices. Grab a pew on the south-facing terrace - it has stunning views.
Also very good, and with a loyal following, is the historic Chalet Etoille. Located at the bottom of the Cervino, having first opened in 1974, the restaurant is a family-run affair. Cesare Frassy and his wife, chef Ulla Frassy, have created a sophisticated and delectable menu with offerings like reindeer tempura and Norwegian crab dumplings. Our reporters felt compelled to visit twice.
Meanwhile, on the main slopes, Bontadini has a reputation for excellent service and fresh delicious food. People queue patiently for the self-service counter to open and we can see why when the restaurant has a wide range of satisfying dishes. Popular items include the risotto, the osso bucco and melt in your mouth pasta.
Cervinia’s apres ski while lively, doesn’t have the same pull as nearby Zermatt’s. This changes at the weekend when locals from Turin and Milan arrive. If you’re willing to drive, there are livelier spots further afield with one such option being the world famous casino at St Vincent.
Beginners should head for the lower slopes where they’ll find plenty of wide open grooomers to boost their confidence. The nursery slopes are located centrally next to the Cretaz lifts, complete with a magic carpet lift and other child-friendly facilities. There are three ski schools
All of the blue runs from Fornet to Plan Maison and Plan Torrette are comfortably within reach of most beginners once they can ski a snow plough. Beginners can ski down to Cervinia on piste number 5, the easy blue run from Plan Maison to Cretaz, while enjoying fabulous views of the Matterhorn.
Beginner snowboarders however will probably find the terrain a little flat in places.
With an abundance of long blue cruisers, intermediate skiers will find themselves in terrain paradise. Classification of pistes isn’t entirely accurate and most of the reds are quite tame in comparison to those at other resorts. Confident intermediates would do well to give Ventina, red no. 7 on the map, a go. At 5 miles long, it’s a swooping run which is sure to burn thighs. To ski it in one would take three hours. Reach it via Plateau Rosa and cruise all the way down to Valtournenche. Each year an amateur ski competition is held on the red 7 which is open to athletes and non-athletes.
Run 37 and the lower part of 7 are also worth blasting down. Pistes are generally very well maintained.
For advanced skiers, marked expert terrain is lacking and for truly challenging skiing you’ll need to venture off piste. The runs accessed from the top plateaux, offer several good descents of around 600m with varying steepness .
Plan carefully if you’re thinking of venturing off-piste. There are great local guides available and you’ll be much safer and get more out of your trip if you book a guide. Check out http://www.guidedelcervino.com/ for more information.
The resort attracts a lot of Zermatt skiers on clear days so the mountain can get packed and queuing is an issue. The upside is that you can ski to Zermatt and it will cost you a lot less than it cost those coming from the other way.
The mountain is also home to Europe’s highest museum, Plateau Rosa, where visitors can marvel at the skill and effort that went into creating the high-altitude lift systems. The museum is open every day from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
And for those with teenagers, there’s cause for celebration as the new teen skipass, for children aged 14-18, offers savings of over 100 Euros. Baby skipasses for small children are free as are skipasses for over 80s.