Bormio Is Never Boring
by Ted Heck
Some guidebooks tell skiers that they may be bored with the skiing in the charming town of Bormio in the Rhaetian Alps of Italy, just across the border from St. Moritz in Switzerland. They say that there is not enough challenge to keep good skiers interested for a whole week.
This despite the big ice cream cone that is the Valllecetta mountain, with 31 miles of groomed slopes, plenty of off-piste opportunities, a longest run of six miles and a vertical drop of 5,800 feet. Plus 17 uphill conveyances, including a cable car, two gondolas, seven chair lifts and seven draglifts.
And that's before you throw in three other areas---the facing mountain above the Valdidentro Valley, the charming area of Santa Caterina (20 minutes away) and the large ski circus of Livigno, the duty free village 60 minutes up the road. All are covered by a common ski pass. Stelvio, an extraordinary area atop a rugged mountain pass, offers glacier skiing, but only in summer. Deep snow clogs the road in winter.
But what turns me on about Bormio is that you can walk the Roman walls with a new friend. It is worth the four-hour ride from Milan's Malpensa airport to sleep where Napoleon did, play at being a centurion in a Roman thermal bath, roam the hills of a region featured in Hemingway's World War I novels.
In the medieval part of the village are hotels, restaurants, and shops that make strolling a fashionable delight. You do not have to wait for the disco to open to be caught up in the friendly aprés ski scene. Shoppers discover bargains in leather and clothing-and ski boots. Many of the world's best-known boots are made in Italy.
The narrow streets in the Old Town don't appeal to skiers who dislike being shuttled to the slopes and who prefer accommodations across the river and closer to the lifts. But I remember fondly two visits to the three-star,reasonably-priced Hotel Posta, tucked away in the middle of the action. Guests were treated like family. At dinner, always a celebration, the owner uncorked a chilled local wine that played well with the steaming pasta. He sat with us in the disco after dinner.
The hotel was on the route of the annual race in February, when hundreds of citizens raced through town on cross country skis, on snow thrown off the roofs. We cheered our host as he sped by and later joined him in the main square, where everybody hoisted a glass of mulled wine.
Lingering at the bar over a late night cappuccino was a romantic way to end that walk in the moonlight. I think about it when I wear the Gucci tie she bought for me.