Our summer in the mountains – one week in Courmayeur.
Since I first went to Courmayeur, having stopped there for breakfast, on our way home from our annual ski week in Pila, driving through the scenic SS26, I fall in love with the place. When we were coming up, just after coming out the Mont Blanc tunnel, you see the gondolas and the tram on top of the route, plus the town with all its buildings very prettily aligned around the route and I knew I wanted to check it out! Being working in the ski biz for almost all my life, before moving to the UK (in the US/Canada and Argentina/Chile), I knew about Courmayeur as a name, but I have not visited many ski areas outside America.
Of all places in our first family ski holiday in Europe, we’ve finished in Ollomont – a small ski ‘field’ – I would say, in the end of the road where mountaineers go to ice climb – but I will write more of this in another post.
But back now to Courmayeur. Since our first breakfast there, we had a second one on the following trip with my friend Claudine from the Tourist Office of Courmayeur and her baby – and then again we’ve been up the Skyway coming back from Lago di Como, and finally we’ve stayed for some nights in winter for two years now – and managed to ski the mountain! First time only one day and the last time, for two (even though my knee was not up for skiing!).
But last summer, I’ve convinced my husband to go at least one week during our summer holidays. I would love to uproot my family there, (to the answers of my husband of what will I do, I don’t speak the language – and me telling him to just learn it!) I wanted to stay in the summer, to see how it is life in Courma in the summer. I’ve been in the fall, seeing at all the hotels – for my Must-Read Guide to Courmayeur. Even many hotels were closed, they’ve opened them to me, and I could see them while many of the maintenance and upgrades were taking place.
A Dolomites train project could be ready for the 2026 Olympics
The project that will link the provinces of Trentino, Alto Adige (Sudtirol) and Veneto has a high degree of feasibility according to former councillor Mauro Gilmozzi. The cost is of one billion two hundred million Euros to be absorbed by the State and the provinces.
The Dolomites train could become a reality by 2026, in time for the Winter Olympics. Connecting Trento to Bassano, then to Feltre, Belluno, Calalzo, Cortina, Dobbiaco, Bressanone, Bolzano and returning to Trento.
A challenge that has a very specific name: Ring Dolomiti. The feasibility is “high” according to Mauro Gilmozzi, former councillor for infrastructures and the environment of the junta Dellai. “We keep in mind that for the most part this ring is already there.”
Total cost: from one billion two hundred million upwards. What seems an onerous amount, “… would be a cost to be divided between various agencies, the Provinces, the State.”
A Feltrinelli bookshop at an altitude of 3466: Europe’s highest bookshop opens on Mont Blanc
60 square meters at an altitude of 3,466 meters and a literary proposal addressed to those who love walking in the woods, surrounded by nature, to those who are always looking for stimuli and points of view, to those who challenge their own limits and to those who feel the need to escape (and find themselves) in open solitudes. The images are of the new library in the Punta Helbronner’s station of the Rotating Funicular Skyway Mont Blanc.
On the Mont Blanc, inside the Punta Helbronner station– The SkyWay, the third floor of the Skyway Monte Biancodi Funivie Montebianco S.p.a.: here Feltrinelli has chosen to inaugurate the highest bookshop in Europe.
“What makes the mountain unique and the lucky explorer is the possibility of looking at the world from a different and exciting point of view. And this is precisely what makes a good book and the mountain, the reader and the traveller, so similar”, reads the presentation of LaFeltrinelli 3466 (the photos are by Lorenzo Passoni, ed).
134th IOC Session
Host of the Winter Olympic Games 2026
Voting cards distributed
Abstentions (including blank votes)
Stockholm – Åre
Milan – Cortina
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Congratulations to Milan-Cortina. We can look forward to outstanding and sustainable Olympic Winter Games in a traditional winter sports country. The passion and knowledge of Italian fans, together with experienced venue operators, will create the perfect atmosphere for the best athletes in the world. The Olympic Winter Games Milan-Cortina 2026 will feature iconic venues and beautiful settings, combining the attractions of a modern European metropolis with a classic Alpine environment.”
He added: “The new Candidature Process has demonstrated the success of Olympic Agenda 2020. We have lowered the cost and complexity of developing Games projects, which now serve the long-term development goals of the host communities and have sustainability and legacy at their hearts. This has led to a significantly reduced organisation budget and the use of 93 per cent existing or temporary competition venues. I also want to thank Stockholm-Åre for presenting an excellent candidature and being part of the Candidature Process for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”
Italy is a sport-loving nation, and winter sports are part of the tradition, culture and identity of Northern Italy. The region has world-class winter sports venues, ranging from the ice arenas of Milan to the well-established and iconic World Cup and World Championship destinations of Cortina, Bormio, Antholz and Val di Fiemme.
The clearing work is continuing ahead of the summer opening
The exceptional snowfall, even out of season, forced us to postpone the opening of the main passes in Alto Adige, after a particularly rainy winter. These days the clearing crew is working on the Rombo Pass, on the border with Austria, on the Stelvio Pass, Passo Stalle and Passo Pennes. The snow is able to form walls of 10-12 meters. On the Rombo pass, at an altitude of 2,500 meters, the snow mass accumulated by wind and landslides reached a height of 21 meters.
“Every year mountains of snow are removed. Our road service does its utmost to prepare our mountain roads for the summer season. It is a difficult job but also dangerous because of the risk of avalanches,” stresses councillor Daniel Alfreider . The experts are however confident of opening the passage to transit by the end of May, at the latest in the first days of June.
The Gran Baita Hotel is a four starts hotel, part of the Alpissima group of hotels in the Aosta Valley. It is located in Courmayeur, 15 minutes from the Armani funicular, 10 minutes from the Via Roma, the elegant pedestrianised shopping road in Courmayeur, and five minutes-drive with a free hotel transfer to the Dolonne gondola.
It is located in a quiet and elegant neighbourhood in Courmayeur, with amazing vistas of the Mont Blanc chain, and the characteristic Dent de Géant peak. I totally recommend it as a lovely hotel to go for your ski or summer holidays.
Decoration is all in the Valdostan style, with lots of wood and cosy interiors. The hotel has 54 well-appointed rooms, many of them with balconies offering magnificent views of the Alps, as Courmayeur is located just by the Mont Blanc and the views everywhere you look at, are amazing! From the regular rooms, many of which are being renovated for the next winter holiday, to the Executive Rooms, with a wooden rustic-chic feel and mini private outside pools with jacuzzi, you have a choice for your stay. Some of the rooms are connecting, to house families.
The in-house restaurant is lovely decorated in wood with oozes cosiness and offers local and international dishes. The American bar has a welcoming fireplace and a spacious terrace with amazing views of the Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains.
Our Route des Grandes Alpes to cross from France into Italy
This past summer we went to have a holiday in the mountains. From Chamonix we were off onto Courmayeur. But it was a Saturday – what is considered here in the mountains as a Samedi Noir or Sabato Nero, meaning very long queues to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel.
This past summer was ridiculously hot – even in the mountains – with the temperature being 31 C in Chamonix in the morning – imagine staying a couple of hours in line to cross the Mont Blanc Tunnel did not seem too much fun at the time.
I’ve asked the evening before some friends I have in Chamonix on how other way we could go – and how about taking the Petit St Bernard Pass. Arnaud Jamson, the deputy director of the Chamonix Tourism Office suggested me to go all around and stop in Megève for lunch, then go to the Lac du Roselend and from there go up to La Rosière to cross into La Thuile through the Petit St Bernard. This is a typical road for motorcyclists and bikers alike – many of these roads have been used by the Tour de France!
As I have a memory of a mosquito, I’ve asked at the hotel’s reception where I could get a good map, and I was told to go into the main street in Chamonix. There is a wonderful books and magazine store – that I could stayed for hours just looking around, where I bought the IGN Map of Route des Grandes Alpes. I love maps and this one was a great addition to my collection.
Our family hike in Pila during the past summer holiday
Last season we’ve had a holiday in the mountains, staying in Courmayeur. We tend to go to the Aosta Valley every winter, and we’ve passed by Aosta coming back from Lake Como a couple of times, but we never went up the mountain up from Aosta. My kids are very keen of Pila, as it is the very first resort where my youngest learnt how to ski, and the first European resort where my oldest skied. Pila is just on top of the city of Aosta, the capital of the Aosta Valley, in the border of Italy with France to the West and Switzerland to the North.
This week we have chosen to stay in Courmayeur was a bit unsettled, you had nice weather in the morning and torrential rain in the afternoon, so we needed to choose the gap when to go up in order not to get soaked!
We went in the morning, Pila is 30’ through the motorway from Courmayeur, and 40-45’ if coming through the scenic national route. We went through the nice route and left the car in the parking lot of Pila by the train station in Aosta.
My kids were really excited, and so were my husband and myself, to get into the 18’ Leitner gondola ride up the mountain. It is weird to see all the mountain without snow, and weirder to see the landing of the gondola full of grass and nicely piquet fencing to direct the ‘pietons’ up or down the mountain.
We’ve started by going down to the start of the Chamolé chairlift. Walking down it seemed much shorter than going on skis – which I find weird, but I guess that not having to pass by all those ‘Interskiers’- (as we call the kids that come with Interski to Pila in the winter) who barricade the exit of the gondola, makes it a smoother walk down.
Work is underway to open the Petit St Bernard Pass – up to 7 meters of snow.
LA THUILE – The abundant snowfall on the Piccolo San Bernardo hill, at 2,200 meters above sea level, has led to the formation of a thick layer of snow along the highway that leads to the border crossing with the territory of Savoy, in France. In some sections the snow accumulations reach 7 meters in height. The reopening of the pass is scheduled for the end of May.
ANAS is at work at the Colle del piccolo San Bernardo (Petit St Bernard’s pass) for its reopening. The abundant rainfall on the Piccolo San Bernardo hill, at 2,200 meters, has led to the formation of a thick layer of snow along the highway that leads to the border crossing with the territory of Savoy, in France. In some sections the accumulations reach 7 meters in height.
“The activities are carried out with turbine blades able to cut the compact front, collecting and channelling the snow which is then ejected at a distance of several meters from the roadway using the ejector pipes”.