This Year’s Travel Plan

(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

2016 ended up being a busy year for travel, with three major trips (Italy, Chile/Argentina, and Denmark/Sweden) and a number of shorter trips within Ontario.  So…what’s in the cards for 2017?

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised that another ski trip is coming up soon.  Last year, I spent some time in the Cinque Terre region of Italy before skiing for a week in the “Via Lattea” ski region surrounding Sestriere.

On piste madness! (Unheard-of mid-afternoon deep powder on an open piste at Sestriere, 2016)

This year, I will be skiing at a completely different resort in the Alps:  Madonna di Campiglio, in the beautiful Dolomite mountains.  This is the 4th time I will be skiing in Italy since 2013.  Why Italy again?  There are quite a few reasons for this.

Our lunch venue above the resort of Sansicario (Sestriere, 2016)

An important factor is the cost.  The other major alpine skiing countries of France, Austria and Switzerland are simply more expensive than Italy:  the lift tickets, the food, the hotels and even the ground transportation are presently all cheaper in Italy.   Switzerland suffers additionally from a very unfavourable exchange rate.  There are also many airports in northern Italy and the airfares to those airports are generally less expensive too. As a bonus, the on-slope food in the other major Dolomite resorts (Cortina d’Ampezzo, Val Gardena) was among the best I have ever had.  It may be cheaper, but it’s not because of a lack of quality!

Our ski group passing through the rocks at Pomedes (Cortina d’Ampezzo, 2014)

Another factor is that skiing in Italy is easily combined with something completely different.  This year, we will be spending a week in Italy before hitting the slopes.  There are many things to see and do in northern Italy that have nothing to do with mountains and skiing.  In addition to last year’s visit to the Cinque Terre region, I’ve previously acclimatized to Europe in places like Venice, Verona and Varenna.

Shocked and awed at Forcella Staunies (Cortina d’Ampezzo, 2014)

I have to create at least a little bit of suspense about the trip, so I’m not going to name the two main towns we plan to visit before arriving in Madonna di Campiglio.  However, I will say that our flight to Italy arrives in Rome (we’re returning from Bologna)…so that gives us a lot of options for our first week.  Regions such as Tuscany and Umbria are obviously very strong contenders!

Mountain restaurant at Son Forca (Cortina d’Ampezzo, 2014)

As for the rest of 2017, I have not made any definitive plans yet.  However, it might be time for a road trip and I really haven’t spent any time in the U.S.A. since my trip to Washington D.C. in April of 2014.

The main thing, however, is that I don’t want to overplan and commit to anything too far in advance.  One of the best parts about visiting Denmark last November was the immediacy:  I didn’t research it for months or years beforehand.  It just emerged out of an unexpected brief gap in my schedule and a frequent flyer plan point redemption offer. I still have a significant number of points in another frequent flyer program that may result in a similar opportunity in 2017.

The horses who “lifted” us to Armentarola (Cortina d’Ampezzo 2014)

The ski photos in today’s post are some of my favourite ones from Cortina d’Ampezzo (2014) and Sestriere (2016).  I will see if I can locate some Val Gardena photos for a “Travel Flashback” post on that resort before leaving for Italy.