One of the largest, highest and - perhaps thanks in part to the cheap alcohol – liveliest ski areas in Europe, Livigno is actually based on three original villages spread out along three miles of road. Livigno is able to offer skiers natural snow skiing from November to May. The ski area is very big for a single resort and has a modern, efficient lift system. It is situated in what was a remote mountain valley between the Alps to the north and the Dolomites to the south - protected from both the cold northerly winds of the former and the snow-melting warm breezes of the latter.
It is located just south of the Swiss border, with St Moritz one of it nearest neighbours. The resort is famous because it is 'duty free' and contains over 200 shops, mostly selling alcohol, cigarettes and perfume. The resort's duty free status is really just a by product of its long struggle for an independent identity which was recognised as far back as 1600 when the local people were granted economic and religious independence. At that time the village was virtually cut off from the rest of the world for much of the year.
One of the later arrivals on the winter sports map because of its isolation, only intrepid visitors arrived by sledge in the snowy months before 1952 when the road down to Bormio was opened. The first ski lift appeared as recently as 1958 and in 1964 there were just four hotels and still only one ski lift. Today there are more than 100 hotels and other places to stay.