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SKIIING

Why your ski trip in Italy will be more expensive this winter

Due to rising energy costs, many mountain resorts in Italy are increasing their prices this winter - with some saying they won't be able to open at all. Here's what you should know if you're planning a winter break.

Skiing in most resorts in the Italian Alps will be more expensive this winter.
Skiing in most resorts in the Italian Alps will be more expensive this winter. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP.

Italy’s ski season, which usually lasts between November and March in high-altitude areas, will be more expensive this year as operators are hit by high energy prices.

The price of ski passes has risen to offset the cost of electricity used to operate ski lifts. Prices for daily, seasonal or multi-day passes in Italy have risen by between 6 and 13 percent, according to SkyTG24, with average increases of 10 percent across the country.

The ski slopes of Bormio in Alta Valtellina have seen the highest increases, with the cost of day passes rising from €46 to €52, according to a survey by the consumer rights association Assoutenti.

In Valle d’Aosta, day passes with rise from €56 to €61 in Courmayeur (8.9 percent), from €53 to €57 in Cervinia (7.5 percent), and from €47 to €51 La Thuile (8.5 percent).

The Dolomiti Superski day pass, which gives users access to 12 different resorts across a 3,000 sq km area in the Dolomites mountain range (making it the largest ski area in the world), will cost €74 in high season, up from €67 last year.

The prices increases only partially cover the increased energy costs, Dolomiti Superski’s press officer Diego Clara told the Repubblica news daily, with the company noting on its website that it reserves the right to raise prices further if necessary.

Energy crisis: Italy risks ‘thousands’ of business closures, say industry groups

Only the six ski areas of Friuli Venezia Giulia have said they won’t raise prices, with a day pass continuing to cost €39.50 and a week pass €250 for the entire ski season.

The ski resort of Panarotta 2002 in Trentino Alto Adige, for its part, has said it will remain closed this winter.

“Under these conditions we do not feel up to starting the winter season”, Matteo Anderle, president of Panarotta 2002, told Il Dolomiti newspaper in October. “There are too many unknowns that risk causing the collapse of the company.”

The news came as a blow to ski equipment rental businesses in the area, who say they learned of the decision just a couple of months before the start of the ski season and are now scrambling to find alternative sources of income.

“Last season I bought 50 sleds because the slope had been opened, now all that investment will be thrown away because if the ski slopes close the rental is worth zero,” Marco Bogazzi, who owns the ‘Snowfamily’ ski rental shop on Panarotta, told local press.

Other resorts are reportedly considering various measures to bring costs down, including opening only on certain days of the week or for limited hours during the day, or opening only the most popular slopes.

Valeria Ghezzi, president of the cable car operators association Anef, told Repubblica that “structural solutions and not those based on contigency” are needed to prevent the industry from facing a crisis.

“We lead a sector that creates an economy. If the ski lifts close, that closes all the related industries.”

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CHRISTMAS

Seven of Italy’s most enchanting Christmas markets in 2022

Here are some of the most magical Christmas markets taking place in Italy this year.

Seven of Italy's most enchanting Christmas markets in 2022

After two years of pandemic cancellations and restrictions, Italy’s Christmas markets will be back in full swing this festive season.

While the energy crisis means some towns are cutting back on lighting and limiting the hours of operation, there’s still plenty of magic to be found.

Whether your focus is on sipping mulled wine surrounded by snow-topped mountains, riding a ferris wheel, sampling German sausages or marvelling at light displays, Italy has something for everyone.

Without further ado, here are some of the country’s best Christmas markets in 2022.

Bolzano

One of Italy’s longest-running Christmas markets, the festive extravaganza in Bolzano’s Piazza Walther is also said to be the country’s largest, with around 80 stalls selling a variety of traditional handicrafts and local treats.

Resting at the foot of the snow-capped Dolomites, Bolzano’s pre-WWI history and proximity to the Austrian border means the city is steeped in Germanic influences, with a number of citizens speaking German as their first language.

This gives Bolzano’s Christmas market a German twist; expect to be offered candied fruit, apple strudel, cinnamon-spiced mulled wine and other alpine delights as you browse its chalet huts.

When? Until January 6th

Christmas balls on display in Bolzano's Christmas market.

Christmas balls on display in Bolzano’s Christmas market. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

Trento

While it hasn’t been running for quite as long as neighbouring Bolzano’s, Trento’s Christmas market has become almost as popular, with new stalls added every year.

Just like Bolzano, Trento is surrounded by maintains, which means you can take in views of stunning white peaks as you wander the old town’s cobbled streets warming your hands on a cup of vin brulè.

As usual, the market will be spread across Piazza Battisti and Piazza Fiera; the Trento city council has also published a calendar of key events happening every day as part of the city’s festive offering.

This year Trento’s Christmas market will have a ‘green’ focus – the use of clean energy, edible bread plates and recycled paper are all part of the concerted effort to limit the event’s environmental impact.

When? Until January 8th

Trento's Christmas market has grown rapidly in recent years.

Trento’s Christmas market has grown rapidly in recent years. Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI / AFP.

Milan

Throughout the month of December and into January, Milan’s Piazza del Duomo plays host to the city’s Christmas market, with almost 80 wooden huts popping up all over the main square.

Those who want to see Milan at its most Christmassy, however, will want to wait for the “Oh Bej! Oh Bej!” (“How beautiful! How beautiful!” in local dialect) festive fair held in the area surrounding the city’s castle, Castello Sforzesco.

This sprawling, centuries-old market is held to coincide with the Feast of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint, and is expected to take place as usual from December 7th-10th.

As a result of the energy crisis, Milan will turn on its Christmas lights two weeks later than usual this year, on December 7th – so you might want to time your visit accordingly if you want to witness the city’s illumination.

When? December 1st until January 6th (Piazza del Duomo market)

People walk across a Christmas market in downtown Milan as snow falls on December 8, 2021.

People walk across a Christmas market in downtown Milan as snow falls on December 8, 2021. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Cernobbio, Como

Lake Como’s roving ‘Città dei balocchi‘ or ‘Toytown’ Christmas fair this year moves to Cernobbio, where visitors can expect to find the town’s Villa Erba park transformed into a winter wonderland.

Fairytale characters, singing trees and a talking tower will greet adults and children who enter the park, with admission free to all.

Festivities are due to kick off at 5pm on December 7th with the opening of Magic Light festival, a mesmerising light display with projections of moving images.

On December 8th – Italy’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which for many in Italy signals the start of the festive period – light displays on Cernobbio’s tree and in the old town will be switched on, heralding the arrival of Christmas.

When? December 7th until January 8th

Florence

Florence has a range of Christmas markets, but the largest and best-known is the one on Piazza Santa Croce in front of the beautiful Santa Croce Basilica.

It’s run by the organisers of the Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt in Germany, which means you can expect authentic bratwurst, stollen, Glühwein, lebkuchen biscuits and German beer, as well as Austrian, Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, French and Italian treats.

This one closes a full week before Christmas, so if you’re planning an Italy Christmas markets tour you might want to make Florence your first stop.

When? Until December 18th

Florence's Christmas market is German-themed.

Florence’s Christmas market is German-themed. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP.

Verona

Like Florence, Verona’s Christmas market is a collaboration with that of a German city; in this case, Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt.

At the main market on Piazza dei Signori you can expect to find sauerkraut, potatoes and German sausage, as well as fried donuts made with ricotta and coated in chocolate.

In addition to those on main square, the market stalls – which this year number some 100 huts – will fill Cortile del Mercato Vecchio and stretch intro surrounding squares and streets.

This year’s festive offering includes a Santa Claus house, a children’s train, two skating rinks, and a range of musical events.

Be sure to look out for the city’s famous 70m-high, 82m-long illuminated shooting star sculpture in Piazza Bra – installed in November and dismantled in January every year since 1984, the sight has become central to the Veronese Christmas experience.

When? Until December 26th

Salerno

Ensuring that Italy’s northern and central regions don’t get all of the glory, the Luci d’artista (Artist’s Lights) display in Salerno draws visitors from all over the world to this small city just east of the Amalfi coast.

This illuminated open-air exhibition runs the length of the main shopping street, up to the Christmas tree on Piazza Portanova, through the medieval city centre and up to the Villa Comunale public gardens.

Salerno’s Christmas market stalls occupy a stretch of the seafront, and this year will run from December 3rd-25th.

Accompanying the event will be a 55m-high ferris wheel, two jazz concerts, and a Santa Claus house (from December 10th to January 7th).

When? December 2nd until January 31st; Christmas market stalls December 3rd-25th.

The Luci d’artista lights display in Salerno attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Luci d’artista lights display in Salerno attracts visitors from all over the world. Photo by MARIO LAPORTA / AFP.
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