Alagna is one of the traditional villages that make up the Monterosa ski area of Italy. Broadly speaking it can be likened to the Three Valleys in France when considering the topographical features of the ski domain. Yes - there are three valleys and 'yes' the ski area is large. However, this is where the similarities with the Three Valleys ski area should stop.
All the villages of the Monterosa ski area are really quite underdeveloped with regards winter tourism. There are only a handful of hotels, restaurants and bars in each village. There are no shops to speak of and very few resort amenities, so for non skiers there is little to do. However, therein lies the charm of Alagna - it's a ski resort that is still very much connected to its traditional Walser culture roots. Indeed many of the old traditional buildings feature the hay drying balconies which are distinctive for the region.
The local restaurants serve delicious mountain fare but menus are somewhat basic. There are a couple of bars in town but those looking for a serious apres ski scene or nightlife should look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you look for a large ski area, large tracts of untouched off-piste terrain, high alpine mountains and a sense of real place then you have hit the jackpot. There are 180km of pistes in the Monterosa area which create a large ski domain. Although this stat is not so impressive when compared to the larger interlinked ski areas of France and Switzerland it is the huge areas of off-piste terrain that are. It is not known as the Freeride Paradise for no reason.
If you like your back country skiing but don't like to share it with thousands of powder hungry ski bums then you have arrived at your Nirvana. Take a mountain guide for the week and go explore. You will not be disappointed.
Pros & Cons
- Fabulous off-piste for experts and intermediates in Alagna's "Freeride Paradise"
- The mountains are empty during the week. No lift queues and no skier or boarder traffic
- Good snow reliability and grooming
- Quiet, totally unspoiled village
- Three valley lift system gives skiing over a very large area
- The challenging skiing is all off-piste. Most pistes are suitable for intermediates
- Very limited nightlife scene in any of the villages
- Few off-slope activities
For those not dining in their hotel, Alagna has some fantastic restaurants well worth trying. Dir und Don is in the centre of Alagna. There are two parts to it, the interior has been beautifully decorated in wood, and there is one section which is mainly pizzas, calzone, pasta and some meat dishes and salads, as well as delicious desserts. The second part is more formal, serving really excellent food. Bar Union is a family run restaurant serving the very best of local cuisine such as Polenta e Selvaggina (polenta and game) and of course Fonduta di Formaggi (cheese fondue). If you are after a very special treat you must go to the Montagna di Luce hotel & restaurant. This is a really traditional mazot style buiding with a fantastic chef. Other favourites of ours are the Restaurant Ca Nosta. The new restaurant Il Corno Bianco in the latest hotel to open in Alagna is getting good reviews.
La Baita on the run back into Alagna is a traditional mountain resturant offering exceptionally good local specialities.
Once you have dropped your skis back at the hotel, Alagna apres ski is open to all looking to enjoy some fine Italian wines and delicious local delicacies. Vineria An Bacher Wi is by far the most popular apres ski bar, and definitely the place to go - often serving complimentary local hams and cheeses between 5pm & 6pm. If you are after something a little livlier then try the popular Cafe Della Guide situated just below the Monterosa Hotel. Alagna may be a small resort but it is a great place for a Bombardino or hot chocolate!
Nightlife is fairly sparse in Alagna. Hotels, bars and restaurants are the best places to soak up the local atmosphere.