Winter sports enthusiasts can once more breathe a sigh of relief. The snow is back and closer than ever in Tuscany, just a stone’s throw from Florence.
For 80 years now, Abetone has been one of the most well-known and trendy ski resorts in central Italy, where it remains the undisputed queen of slopes. It straddles the snowy mountains of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, with peaks of up to 2000 meters. A century-old history of mountains, courage and passion crosses this pass, which was inhabited in ancient times (Hannibal allegedly transited here on his Etrurian conquest) and became famous at the beginning of the 20th century when the first ski lifts were built.
In 1904 a Florentine returning from Norway brought with him the first pair of skis known to Italy. Back then, they were made with two wooden beams and were used to run down the mountains and climb back up unaided. Ski lifts were fitted out soon after with a 20-seat motor-sled powered by an engine at the bottom of the slope, which carried skiers to the Selletta shelter, changing the mountain for ever. From that day in 1937, skiing finally became a sport for everybody, turning Abetone in to training grounds for one of the best Italian skiers of all time, Zeno Coló, who some years later went on to win the Olympic gold metal.
Since then, the mountains around Pistoia have changed considerably, making Abetone a true haven for ski enthusiasts and amateurs. The Abetone ski resort now cover a large area, made up of a number of smaller resorts that were subsequently connected, totalling 50 km of runs. The Val di Luce, in the northernmost part of the resort, was developed for tourism only 40 years ago. Thanks to its state-of-the-art Snow Park it is the ideal setting for snowboarders who can indulge in freestyle performances, tricks and jumps and even off-piste, enjoying fresh snow in complete safety. Val di Luce also chimes with relaxation. The Val di Luce spa Resort is a newly-designed hotel just off the beaten tracks, equipped with a luxury wellness centre.
Abetone is also a great spot for cross-country skiing, with its loop route meandering through spruces and firs for a total of 15 km. Abetone is an ideal place if you enjoy living in perfect harmony with nature.
But there are other surprises in store for you in Tuscany. Monte Amiata, between the towns of Grosseto and Siena, is a scarcely known and unusual destination for snow enthusiasts, a fascinating area which is just as enjoyable in winter. Why not opt for Nordic walking, an environmentally-friendly type of hiking done with two poles and snowshoes (ciaspole in Italian) that stop you from sinking in the snow. You’ll be breathing pure fresh air without having to give up the beautiful scenery offered by winter sports.