After over 40 years zipping down ski slopes all over Europe without incident I’d always fancied cross-country skiing – graceful, quiet, relaxing, no snowboarders to avoid and best of all, comfortable boots. So this was how I came to book a three day beginners’ course in Cogne, Italy.

In case you read no further I have to say – it was fantastic. I am already looking forward to booking on an ‘improvers’ holiday next year, no more ‘zombie walking’ for me.....! But was it what I expected? Yes and no.

I joined a friendly group in Saas Grund for the start of the Tour de Monte Rosa. After a cloudy morning on the first day, we were hugely lucky to have almost perfect weather for the next eight days.

Hiking in Tuscany, Italy

We are sitting round the dinner table at Lavacchio when my mother jumps up to check the eggs. She’s not aiming to make an omelette; she’s just interested to see if the first chicks of the season are starting to break their way out of the eggs.

What an amazing experience! Recently spent a day at the Foire de Saint Ours, in Aosta, Italy. For over one thousand years artisans have gathered at the end of January in the beautiful Roman city of Aosta to celebrate their craft in wood and stone. I was dragged along by a friend who said he wanted to check out the Fair - I interpreted this as a few stalls and a quick Italian coffee then home again. In fact I was bemused that my friend, an avid ski mountaineer, should want to visit town on a blue sky powder day !

South Tyrol, known by the Italians as Alto Adige and German-speakers as the Südtirol, is a picturesque, tranquil region in northern Italy and home to the Dolomites mountain range. The Dolomites, also known as the ‘Pale Mountains’ for their limestone hue, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and the South Tyrol’s truly unique natural wonder. It’s no exaggeration to say that the forests and mountains here are widely regarded as being among the most attractive landscapes in the world. Indeed, the recognition given by the protected status of UNESCO since June 2009 is testimony to just how well preserved and unspoilt the natural environment remains.

What a great week in Tuscany exploring the Apuane and Appenine Alps. This really is a wonderful area of deep beech and chestnut forests and rocky ridges of limestone. I love the autumn season as the trees are heavy under the weight of fruit and nuts. The chestnut trees offer up sweet chestnuts for eating and also for the production of chestnut flour.

 

For the last 10 days I've been lucky enough to be in Italy. First off the lovely the Ferret & Cogne valleys with our Italian Ski Weekend (ISW) who were learning/freshing their cross country skiing skills. We enjoyed great food, excellent snow, tried both classic and skating styles and ended with great apres ski in Courmayeur.

 

Before I really get into the season I have been trying to do a little ski mountaineering for myself, and on New Year's Day celebrated my birthday with a great trip to Col San Carlo in Italy. It was also a chance to check out the area for snowshoeing and given the tracks to one of the summits in that area there is ample opportunity to snowshoe as well as ski! I hope you enjoy the film of a great day out on the 1st of January. A very Happy New Year to you all. Hope to see you soon in the snowy mountains! Lindsay

 

Well, it's another sunny morning in Tuscany at the villa at Lavacchio. Our guide this week, Kathy Grindrod, is just about to head off on the first day of walking with our guests who arrived yesterday at Pisa airport. The walking here is great with the limestone landscape offering ridges, and jagged peaks and towers, natural arches and bridges.

 

Being able to combine Italian coffee, food and hospitality with a healthy quantity of snowshoeing is my ideal week! So I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my week in Etroubles, near Aosta with the Austrian Alpine Club members. This is the second year that Tracks and Trails has guided a week of snowshoeing for Club members and as per last year I think I can say that a good time was had by all.