Abruzzo skiing in Ovindoli, Italy

One of the (many) reasons I like living in Rome is the wonderful year-round climate. Still, come winter time, I do miss seeing snow – if not actually shovelling it – so I am happy to be close enough to the mountains to enjoy nice weekends skiing in Italy.

One of my top Europe travel tips is to visit the mountains close to Rome, the Apennine mountains in the neighbouring region of Abruzzo. Although Abruzzo skiing is not as good as that in the resorts of northern Italy, the proximity and convenience of the Abruzzo resorts make them extremely popular weekend destinations for Romans and a great Europe destination.

Abruzzo is an ideal travel destination in all seasons. In the winter there is downhill and cross-country skiing, sledding and ice skating. In the summer, there is fantastic hiking, biking and horseback riding. Abruzzo is still a fairly undiscovered Italian region and tourist masses never descend upon the charming mountain towns in the same numbers as they do in neighboring regions such as Tuscany and Umbria. Yet the towns are lovely, the food and wine extremely good, the mountain air rejeuvenating and the nature breathtaking.

One of the most popular Abruzzo skiing resorts for Romans also happens to be one of the closest and easiest to reach by highway, the town of Ovindoli. Ovindoli is about a 1 ½-hour drive from Rome and all but the last 15 km is easy highway driving. It is equidistant from the airport in Pescara, on the Adriatic coast. The town itself is small, with plenty of hotels and apartment rental options and many restaurants serving up hearty mountain fare.

Food in Abruzzo is simple, but excellent. Regional specialties include the chitarra pasta, fresh egg pasta – thicker than linguine, but narrower – served with the local saffron sauce, delicious gnocchi (especially good in this potato-producing region) with ragù (tomato sauce with meat), sausages, scamorza (melted cheese) or arrosticini (lamb skewers), all of it perfectly accompanied by the regional red wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

My family and I often enjoy Abruzzo skiing at Monte Magnola , just 3 km from the center of town. If you are driving up with your own car, head up early as the parking lots fill up quickly. There is also a frequent shuttle bus which departs throughout the day from the town square.

The mountain is panoramic and is popular with skiers and snowboarders. There are also easy slopes for children and beginner skiers and lessons can be easily arranged.

Just a few kilometers from Ovindoli is a second ski resort, Campo Felice . The closest towns are Rocca di Cambio (at 1434 meters from sea level, this is the highest town in the Apennine mountain range) and Rocca di Mezzo.

This isn’t an area used to lots of foreign tourism, so fewer people will speak English or other foreign languages. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to make yourself understood and will most likely have a great time in this unspoiled region. Enjoy your Abruzzo skiing holiday!