The Milky Way (Via Lattea) ski area in the Italian Alps opened yesterday. 

[R1603R, Sestriere], [R1606R, Sauze d'Oulx], [R2260R, Claviere], [R1612R, Cesana] and [R1923R, Sansicario] are open with 60cm on upper slopes, 30cm on lower slopes. The one French resort in the Milky Way - [R1685R, Montgenevre] - opens Saturday Dec. 10.

Sestriere made the start of winter 2011-12 official yesterday with an opening ceremony. The Head of Tourism and Sports for Piedmont, Alberto Cirio, and the owner of the Milky Way, John Brasso, gathered at 2700 metres to cut the ribbon. The resort has 12 kilometres of open terrain (22 slopes) and 16 lifts.

Montgenevre, the only resort in the Milky Way yet to open, has made some improvements for the 2011-12 ski season: the new four-main chairlift 'Le Montquitane' replaces the old two-seater; a new blue ski run with artificial snow making facilities; a new draglift to create ski-in/ski-out facilities for Hameau de l'Obelisque; the new Anova Hotel & Spa; a new snow garden for beginners learning how to ski; a daily shuttle bus to/from Briancon every hour; and a resort membership card for kids.