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Half-term budget skiing: Italy

Desperate for a family ski trip, stuck with the half-term week and don’t want to blow the year’s holiday budget on one trip? We weren’t planning to get away as a family to the slopes this year, but with a bit of planning found that it is possible to do half-term skiing on a budget(ish)!

Taking advantage of the EasyJet Big Orange Sale we picked up return flights to Venice (including two 23kg bags) for £365 for a family of four. We travelled on a Wednesday and flew home on a Monday (taking advantage of a school inset day). Avoiding flying on a Saturday saved us A LOT of money.

We picked up a hire car from Italy Car Rent for a bargain €60. Despite some pretty dodgy TripAdvisor reviews we were very pleased with their service. Our hire vehicle was a brand new Jeep Renegade with just 300km on the clock.

Our accommodation was in a town called Gallio, a 120km drive from Venice Marco Polo Airport. This should have been a straightforward drive, but it was late and the fog had come down. The journey took nearly 2 hours, not ideal after a long day, and we didn’t arrive until 1.00AM!

Our accommodation was in the small town of Gallio on the Asiago Plateau. A traditional Italian mountain town, with everything you would need for a holiday. Including two bakeries, a supermarket, amazing fruit and veg shops, bars and cafes. Nestled in the hills it is a pretty town, if not traditionally charming.

We booked a self-catering apartment through Airbnb for £400 per family. Split over 3 floors, the accommodation was spacious and really well suited to our needs. Each level had a bathroom and there was two kitchens. Just 100m from the town square and with two parking spaces, it really was ideal for our group of 8 (two families).

Traditional square in Gallio

We chose the Asiago Plateau because the easy access to several ski areas. Across the four days we spent in Gallio, we visited three different ski areas, all within a 30 minute drive. None of the ski areas are going to rival the vast Dolomiti Superski just to the North, but what they lacked in size they made up for in atmosphere and much cheaper ski passes.

Highlights of our week skiing in the Veneto region

The ski area of Le Melette is just a 10 minute drive from Gallio. It has 25km of piste located between 1400 and 1750 meters and 4 recently renovated chairlifts. Lift passes are €39 a day for adults, €30 for juniors and €20 for bambino’s (under 8’s) in peak season. Cheaper 4 and 2 hour passes are also available. It had not been a great season for snow so not all the pistes were open, typically the snow came after we left! What is lacked in snow it made up for in glorious sunshine and empty pistes. Yes, EMPTY PISTES at half-term! It made skiing with the kids much less stressful compared to previous peak weeks in Val Cenis and Serre Chevalier.

The pistes were mostly reds (though Italian reds so on the friendlier side) and wound their way through the trees. Really pretty skiing on cruisy pistes. We found a lovely loop that the kids were happy to do on repeat. The snow turned very slushy past 2PM so we took advantage of the 4 hour passes. Started early and then retreated to the lovely La Baita Relax & Gourmet bar at the top to enjoy some early apres and fun in the snow for the kids before skiing back down.

The kids usually do a week of ski school, but to keep costs down this year we decided not to do group lessons. Instead they each had a 1 hour private lesson with Le Melette Ski School for a very reasonable €55 each. Both boys really enjoyed their hour, and both seemed to progress under the tuition of some very friendly instructors.

Le Melette ski area
Le Melette Ski Area

Ski Verena was a 35 minute drive from Gallio. The smallest area we visited with just 15km of piste. Again we took the option of 4 hour passes which cost €36 for adults, €30 for juniors and €18 for under 8’s. The pistes were a bit busier here but a lot of people had come for the junior ski racing. Again the poor snow conditions had left some of the pistes a bit bare in places but we enjoyed the variety of slopes and the pretty views!

The tree-run pistes were very friendly and a decent length. They were all straight up and back down again so there was no sense of travel, if that is your thing. The beginners area was at a good pitch and served by a decent length travelator. So the kids chose to ditch their skis and practise their snowboarding in the afternoon. Which made me a very happy Mummy!

Never a bad day on the slopes!

The final area we visited on our budget half-term skiing trip was Alpe di Cimbra. This is a much bigger ski area and split across the two resorts of Lavarone and Folgaria. It was a 35 minute drive to the Lavarone area from Gallio. With over 104km of piste split across the two hills, it offers family-friendly skiing suitable for everyone. Again we took advantage of 4 hour passes which cost €36 for adults and €28 for juniors. Children under 8 received a free lift pass when a adult purchased a full price one.

The poor snow conditions made for some laughable scenes, with hikers on one side and pistes on the other! But, to the credit of the piste controllers, everything was open and skiable. We enjoyed skiing from where we started at Alpe di Vezzena to Lavarone and back again. A real highlight was the whole family going down the black ‘Avez del Prinzep’ piste – a first for the boys.

Boy on the pistes at Alpe di Cimbra
Not prime snow conditions at Lavarone, but we had fun!

A ski holiday is never going to be cheap and is certainly not something I take for granted. But if you love being in the mountains it becomes addictive! Our family trips have always been budget affairs and the Asiago Plateau is a beautiful area with lots of opportunities for mountain sports of all types.

Read some more tips about skiing on a budget here.

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