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Cervinia Italy

One of the first purpose-built resorts is blessed with plenty of high-altitude, snow-sure skiing and easy access to the slopes of neighbouring Zermatt.

Somehow one cannot fail to admire the romantic spirit of an Italian ski resort that has Byron's fine words (mysteriously translated into French) emblazoned on the front of its main lift station in wrought iron.

But although the mountains have not changed much since Byron's time, the resort itself might have surprised him. Having originally come to prominence as a climbing centre, Cervinia was first developed as a ski area in 1936 during Mussolini's era, when what were then state-of-the-art lifts and hotels were constructed.

But despite its aesthetic melange, Cervinia remains one of the most popular Italian destinations for British skiers. Indeed, the British comprise the largest proportion of foreign visitors here. The attraction is partly price, although this is by no means the cheapest resort in Italy, but principally it is the snow record.

Cervinia is one of the highest ski resorts in the Alps, with a village height of 2,050m and a ski area (linked to Zermatt's) that rises up to 3,480m - or even 3,820m if you are returning from an excursion into Zermatt's terrain. Thus it is virtually guaranteed to have snow from early December until late April, despite the fact that many of its slopes have a southerly exposition. In addition, snow-making helps ensure season-long snow-cover on the lower slopes. (The resort celebrates its long season with the Azzurrissimo at the end of April. This is a downhill race from the Plateau Rosa to Cervinia itself in which 1,500 amateurs compete.)

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Italy

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