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Tuscany in general and Florence in particular, are places to visit in the spring, summer and autumn. The food and wine are marvellous and the Renaissance culture and beautiful countryside even more so. However, the winter in this North Tuscan region is also magical and a magnet for keen skiers.
Just an hour and a half drive north of Florence, Abertone nestles in the foothills of the Apennines. It's about half way between Florence and Modena and just south west of Bologna. This region is the borderland between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. It may be up in the Apennine Mountains, but access here is no problem. Roads are very good in this part of Italy.
Surrounded by fir tree forests and along good road from Pistoia, this has been the private ski paradise of Tuscany's population. There are lots of ski hire shops, bars, restaurants and even, if you are lucky, free parking. You can rent good skis locally and the chair lift day passes are good value for money. In fact, there are lots of chair lifts and masses of terrain over which to ski. Some slopes are very advanced, but there are also numerous ski schools for visitors of all abilities. There are areas reserved for disabled skiers, children and skiing students. You can even get off the chair lift in the afternoon and climb up the mountains to take in the view over the Mediterranean.
Ski slopes in this region spread around four valleys: Vali di Luce, Valle de Sestalone, Valle del Scoltenna and Valle di Lima. The ski resort at Val di Luce is a tiny place at 1,370 metres above sea level. Organized skiing here dates from the 1930s. At that time, there were huge ambitions to build towers with lights shining all over the valley below.
There are 22 ski lifts and a 180 km cross country ski track. You can also try snow shoes or Nordic walking. Despite the southern location of the area, snow is here until early April. Snow machines make sure there is enough cover for all of the sports. If you are an experienced skier, start at Selleta and its black diamond slopes. Ski on to Monte Gomito and Faitello towards Vali di Luce.
Cutigliano is the skiing resort for champions. There's alpine skiing and a snow tubing slope. It's just eight km from Abertone, 25 km from Pistoia and 50 km from Florence. There are slopes for children, beginners and cross country, but it is the best place for experienced skiers visiting Tuscany. This small town of just over 1,500 residents is popular for summer visitors as well as in winter. You can even hear the old Tuscan dialect spoken among the locals. At about 1,600 metres elevation, the ski season continues here until the second week of April.
Visit the Apennine Mountains north of Florence for the ski holidaysof a lifetime. The ski slopes cater for all abilities, from beginners to champions. Good roads provide easy access between the main ski centres and the bigger cities such as Bologna and Modena to the north in Emilia Romagna. What is more it's not far to the Mediterranean Sea along the road through Pisa to the coast.
Adriana Frederick writes regularly on winter holidays in Italy for a broad range of websites and blogs. She can advise on skiing around the Florence region. In this article she is sharing some valuable information with the readers on ski holidays.
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