I won’t lie, I can’t. That part of any trip where I sit at my desk and relive each moment to digitally pen the experience, that really is not the best bit. Where is the snow? Where are the divine panoramas of iced mountains and frosted pines?
The morning light hits a little differently in the cityscape I see from my window at home as I embark upon my day. Alas, from my screen to yours, I imbue your daydreams with all the details you need to plan your next sojourn in the Italian Alps.
Where to stay
Just a short 90 minutes through the rolling countryside outside of Turin brings you to the Aosta Valley region of northern Italy. Home to the highest resort in the country, Cervino Ski Paradise, it’s famed for its year-round snow, stunning scenery and particularly diverse skiing. At the southern edge of the Breuil-Cervinia village, affording some of the best vistas of any residence in the area, lies Cervino by VRetreats.
A modern iteration of alpine chic, the space is contemporary yet welcoming. A warm grey stone facade is opened by swathes of uninterrupted glass hovering lightly above it on a cantilevered level, framing the valley from within Le Saveur restaurant and the Santus Lounge Bar. The space offers uninterrupted panoramas of the Monte Cervino, known for its nearing symmetrical peak and pyramidal shape; it may be better known for its iteration in chocolate form or its Swiss moniker: the Matterhorn.
The stretch of glass which defines the hotel’s architecture is mirrored across each residence, a grand view opens to a private balcony, peeking out into the valley, or the quiet forest enclosing the rear of the hotel. Of the four different types of rooms, the 60 deluxe and superior offer comfort with advancing size, and six suites offer extra room to roam with his and her bathroom and wardrobes. New for the 2024 season, four spa suites offer a private in-room sauna too, for those moments when the spa is just too far away.
Where to Dine
Pre-dinner at the Santus Lounge comes with canapés and cocktails as you share your wins and wipeouts of the day. Crisp arancini filled with rich and saline local cheeses, and the sublimely-smooth and decadent, Ultimate Old Fashioned, twisted with Crème de Vanilla de Madagascar and chocolate bitters, served with a candied dark chocolate dipped orange slice.
Le Savour offers the aforementioned panoramic views, a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch, or to watch the dancing lights across the valley after dark. The effortlessly chic Abri, ‘The Refuge’ is an intimate space for private dining, tucked away through the main dining space.
The menu changes day by day, taking into account the daily offerings of their local suppliers and influenced by their head chef’s heritage of residencies in Courmayeur and Taormina. Rich alpine dishes are balanced with the freshness and simplicity of traditional Sicilian cooking, with platings that experiment with design and texture, and a touch of theatre with each dish.
A favourite starter, the beef tartare comes from the local breed Valdostana Pezzata Rossa, seasoned with walnut oil, atop caper tapenade and Saras del Fen – a soft cheese wrapped in hay, made locally in the Italian Alps. At serving, a bell jar filled with woodsmoke is lifted from your plate, flavouring your dish and scenting the room.
Prima Piatti is just as exciting and experimental – each dish is interwoven with local delicacies of intense flavour, like the Cureggio and Fontaneto onion soup, or the Verrayes potato gnocchi with Fontina cheese. Secondi Piatti saw more local meats but the beef, paired with piquant celery root, sweet quince mustard and tangy Toma cheese (local, of course, to the Aosta Valley) was a showstopper, bejewelled with pink and blue cornflower and chamomile blossom. It’s not dinner without something sweet to finish, so try their deconstructed tiramisu, you won’t regret it.
The Cervino Ski Paradise is one of the largest skiing areas in the world, with the highest skiing in the Alps across five resorts: Valtournench, Breuil-Cervinia, Chamois and Torgnon of Italy, and Zermatt, Switzerland. As the only resort to guarantee skiing 320 days a year, the area is interlinked by 99 slopes and a vast network of 56 lifts as it climbs up to 4,478m at the peak of the Cervino.
Between Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche alone there are 68 pistes across a total of 157 km of terrain, but across the entire resort stretches a vast combination of 322 km of slopes, with the highest skiing in Italy at 3,480m from the Plateau Rosà, and skiing in Zermatt from 3,820m.
Further expanding the opportunity for adventure, the newly opened Matterhorn Alpine Crossing from Testa Grigia on the Plateau Rosà completes the continuous cable car link between Switzerland and Italy with a 24-person gondola. Creating a long-anticipated connection between the two countries it offers access right across Zermatt from Cervino. On the 1.6 km route, the ten cabins cover over 4,000m of altitude during the one-hour journey, with stunning views through the glass floor cabins.
Famous runs include the Reine Blanche, the longest red run in the world. From Zermatt to Breuil-Cervinia, it offers 22 km of non-stop cross-border skiing, with a total altitude difference of 2,359m from top to bottom. Or, to travel by green and blue runs and enjoy views of the entire Breuil-Cervinia valley, take the Ventina slope. Starting at the Plateau Rosà glacier, you’ll arrive at Breuil-Cervinia 11 km and 1430m of altitude difference later.
Where To Pause
Across the valley are spread more than fifteen restaurants, offering a quick coffee or glass of something cold, lunch and of course, après ski. Taking lunch at Up offers sweeping views from its outdoor terrace, lively later in the day with live DJs, but inside, the lodge-style space creates quiet private dining spots. With a beautiful menu that combines the contemporary and traditional, expect beautiful fish dishes like their red shrimp tartare or their orzotto – a risotto of pearl barley flavoured with local blue cheese and topped with crisp boudin sausage.
Nearby, Rocce Nere affords picturesque framed views of the surrounding mountains, with a menu of cured meats, warming soups and pasta dishes. Higher up the valley, make sure to stop at Chalet Etoile to enjoy their traditional lodge for a coffee and something sweet.
The Breuil-Cervinia village offers cafes and shops to peruse at leisure, from a new outfit to gifts to bring home. For something more exhilarating, husky sledding is a must, with the Siberiana Husky Experience leaving just a stone’s throw from the hotel.
The area offers a plethora of ways to enjoy the great outdoors, and Cervino’s ski room is fully equipped to kit you out or house your gear during your stay. With a courtesy shuttle to the ski lifts and the resort centre, it serves vast opportunities for ski and snowboarding, Nordic and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even skating or climbing, with mountain bikes available from the hotel too.
If a spa day is what you need, they have you covered and then some. A panoramic swimming pool, hydromassage pool, a soft sauna and Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, ice waterfall, Himalayan salt chamber, gym and a relaxation area with herbal tea room. It’s the only place to be after a day immersed in the mountains, and their treatment rooms offer a wide menu, from relaxing facials to rejuvenating massage, including a course of massage for your entire stay.
However you find yourself outside of an evening, make sure to find a spot to savour the sunset. As night starts to fall the sky moves through warm pinks to dusky blues and mute greens, and the sun catches the breeze-lifted powder off the peak of the Matterhorn, you won’t want to be anywhere else.
Inghams offers 7 nights at the 5* Cervino, by VRetreats, half board in Cervinia including flights and transfers from £1468 pp [www.inghams.co.uk, 01483 938047]