On the sunny side of the Matterhorn, the resort of Breuil-Cervinia has less of a historic village feel but no less tradition. Since before the middle ages, the Theodulpass that connects the Mattertal with Cervinia’s Valtournenche was a major north / south trading route, until advancing glaciers effectively closed it in the early 1700’s. Italian mountain guide Jean-Antoine Carrel and his party finally summited the Matterhorn (Cervino in Italian) from the Italian side only 3 days after the first ascent from Zermatt in 1865, which cemented its place in alpine folklore and created the tourism that would define it. Just prior to WWII, Cervinia began a resort development that would put its lift system at the forefront of technology and access in the Alps, eventually linking with Zermatt’s ski lifts, creating one of the largest domains in the world.
While the south-facing Breuil Valley can be susceptible to high winds, there are many days that the snow falls in Italy and it’s clear in Switzerland, or vice-versa. One year, we had a surprise powder day in Cervinia of over 70cms of snow at the end of April, while it was clear and sunny spring-skiing in Zermatt. Additionally, the benefits of using the Cervinia heli-skiing access opens up countless unhyped runs from the border ridge, as long as they land on the unregulated Italian side.
Piste-lovers will also love the choices in Cervinia and Valtournenche – they are a veritable Italian autostrada of wide, fast groomers. One even goes 13km from the top to bottom, with descents to Cervinia clocking in at around 10km long.
Of course, the best part about skiing in Italy is the cuisine – and Cervinia has several of our favorite restaurants in the Alps slopeside. Rustic Aostan cuisine, often mixed with unexpectedly-fresh seafood and the ultimate Italian wines, with a warm hospitality found nowhere else.