This is the perfect winter break! Benefit from expert cross country ski tuition on world-class tracks, combined with a snowshoe taster session, Italian cuisine and comfortable hotel.
Join us in Cogne, Italy and learn how to cross country ski on groomed trails. The picturesque valley of Cogne, known as the 'Queen of Italian Cross Country' venues offers exceptional skiing away from the crowds in the Gran Paradiso National Park, which is home to Italy's highest peak. It is a lovely village of traditional stone-houses with an eighteenth-century chapel. We have carefully chosen instructors who are truly passionate about the sport, and we keep groups small to ensure quality tuition. If you have previously done some cross country skiing then you might like to consider our 'Improvers' Italian Ski Break, details of which can be found here.
No matter what your age you can still master this original form of skiing. The word “ski” is Norwegian and comes from the Old Norse word “skid”, which was a split length of wood. Cross country skis are slender, very lightweight and easy to use. For centuries in the Nordic countries, skis were for travelling in winter to enable hunting, and to keep contact between communities.
On this trip you will learn the basic 'classic' technique on flat or slightly undulating ground so that you can propel yourself across the snow efficiently. Once mastered we will progress to longer journeys at a pace that is right for you. Cross country skiing can be, if you want it to be, a very aerobic activity, which also makes it ideal for winter 'cross-training'. On the other hand you can relax, take your time and just enjoy being out in the mountains.
Combine this Italian Ski Break with our Snowshoe Long Weekend for a multi-activity winter week on our Snowshoe and Ski 'Combo' holiday.
Today you will arrive in the beautiful Italian village of Cogne. A remote mountain community set in the magnificent Gran Paradiso National Park. Your ski hire will also be organised for you. For full details please consult the 'Arrival & Departure' section of the Trip Information.
Our hotel is located a very short walk from the ski tracks which makes it very convenient. Your ski instructor will meet you at the ski hire shop and brief you on the days ahead. After fitting our skis and boots, and finding our 'ski-legs,' your instructor will take you through various exercises to introduce you to the techniques for 'classic style' cross country skiing, and what we call 'diagonal stride'. Cogne has an excellent stadium offering beautifully groomed tracks in a large flat area which makes it the perfect arena for learning. There is also a large network of trails through the valleys and forest which we will progress to during the weekend.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant or cafe. In the afternoon you will meet your snowshoe guide (time and location to be confirmed) who will arrange a half day snowshoe walk enabling you to get to know the Cogne valley.
After a day in the snow there will still be time to explore the shops, bars for a pre-dinner apéro or relax in the hotel wellness 'Spa La Baita'. Post ski massages can be booked directly with the hotel.
This morning we head back to the stadium for our warm up exercises, and to reacquaint you with your skis. One of the reasons we love Cogne is that it is so well provided as a cross country ski resort. With 55km (35 miles) of ski trails, many regional and national cross country ski competitions like the Marcia Gran Paradiso take place in the Cogne valley. The main trails are flat or gently undulating, and are the perfect training ground for beginners and racers alike. The stadium area also has 'snow canons' and if the real stuff is in short supply they will create perfect tracks from the snow they produce themselves. This so-called 'artificial snow' is without doubt as good as, or frequently better than, the real thing - white velvet.
The free ski bus means we can explore the neighbouring villages such as Epinel, or Lillaz which, like Valnontey, is a famous ice-climbing venue, attracting climbers from around the world. Our aim will be to do a short journey to our lunch-stop, then our afternoon will be spent adapting our basic diagonal stride for different types of terrain. There will be plenty of opportunities for learning new skills or practising along the way. Our instructors aim to ensure that you progress each day at 'your' level while maximising your enjoyment of the activity.
Today we plan to put all our skills into practice and make a longer tour that can be adapted to suit everyone's level. Our aim is to ski to the beautiful upper valley of Valnontey. This snow filled valley is famous for ice climbing, and it's possible to see ice climbers tackling the spectacular frozen waterfalls that line the valley on both sides. We will stop for lunch at the characterful family run Albergo of La Barme. Think heavy stone tiles on the roof, ancient woodwork, and a tiny hamlet of old wooden houses.
After lunch we tour further on undulating trails by the rivers edge to the head of the valley. It's often possible to watch ibex and chamois on the valley slopes and in the woods close to the trails. Our return journey includes some enjoyable downhill sections which can be avoided if necessary by simply taking the ski bus back to Cogne.
A final Italian meal concludes this Italian Ski Break, where we hope you have enjoyed learning about cross country skiing and experienced the charm of the Italian Alps.
Today is departure day and your package finishes after breakfast.
For full details on how to arrange your onward travel consult the 'Arrival & Departure' section under Trip Information.
It is always our aim to complete the proposed itinerary outlined above, however, it may be necessary for our guides/instructors to adjust the daily itinerary based on the weather conditions, group safety and enjoyment.
Cogne is a small town equipped with all the facilities you might need for this trip including; a pharmacy, banks/ATMs, small supermarket, sports shops, tourist office, local produce, souvenirs, bars and cafes. Situated in the heart of the old town our accommodation is perfectly situated to easily access the ski trails, free bus to neighbouring villages, shops and bars.
We always aim to accommodate our guests in well-situated, clean, characterful, family run accommodation. All of our trips are based on two people sharing a bedroom. If you are booking as a single traveller you will share with someone of the same gender. In many cases a single room is available for a supplementary fee, but these can be in short supply and require early booking. If you have any questions about the accommodation please contact us.
You will be guests of Filippo Gérard, our host whose family owns and runs our gorgeous 3* hotel. Built in the19th century the Hotel du Gran Paradis, is Cogne's oldest hotel. It boasts traditional architecture, local Italian cuisine all in a relaxed alpine setting. Make yourself at home with access to their living room with fireplace, little bibliothèque, bar, heated ski room plus it has a small private wellness Spa La Baita.
Dinner is delicious, typical food from the Aosta valley region of Italy, eaten at our hotel's other restaurant at the Hotel Sant'Orso. The Hotel Sant Orso has a reputation with 'foodies' as being an excellent example of local tastes and dishes from this wonderful part of the Italian Alps. You may feel that on this trip you spend a lot of time contemplating the local tastes! Breakfast is taken in our own hotel dining room and is buffet style.
Massages and single room requests are possible, but do incur an additional fee.
Cogne can easily be reached by road, rail or by air.
Flying to Milan
The journey time to travel to Cogne from Milan Malpensa airport by public transport is about 4 hours. Timetables can be sourced on www.rome2rio.com The route taken is from Milan Malpensa airport, to Milan Central station, to Turin Porta Susa, to Aosta where you can either go by bus or by taxi to Cogne.
There is a daily Flix bus to Aosta departing from Malpensa Airport at 12:00 and Milan city centre later at 14:00. Prices start from about 5€ one way.
A public bus also runs from Milan Malpensa Airport to Aosta at varying times (except on a Tuesdays and Wednesday) taking about 2 hours. A single is 25 Euros.
From Aosta it's then necessary to take another bus or a taxi to reach Cogne timetables on how to reach Cogne can be found here on the Cogne Tourism office website.
Early arrivals - time in Milan
If you arrive early take time to explore this cosmopolitan city known as the fashion capital of Europe. Details of how to travel into central Milan can be found here. The journey takes around 60 minutes. If you wish to leave luggage while exploring you can find 'left luggage' facilities at various locations in the city for approximately 5€ per bag per day. Left luggage facilities at Milan Malpensa airport are open from 0600hrs - 2200hrs and are located on the Arrival Level, or Terminal 1.
Flying to Turin or Geneva
You can also choose to fly to Turin, Italy or to Geneva in Switzerland, and make your own way to Cogne by bus/train. You can find details of public transport from Turin to Cogne here. The route generally will be Turin to the ancient Roman town of Aosta, and then the local bus to Cogne.
The easy option is to hire a car for the weekend and drive from Turin, to Cogne, in only 1h45.
When booking a trip we ask you to acquire insurance to cover you for the following:
Mountain Rescue Insurance
It is a condition of booking that you are insured against medical expenses, injury, illness, death, mountain rescue, cost of repatriation and personal accident risks. Please ensure that your insurance covers you to the maximum altitude given on your trip itinerary. The maximum altitude for any trip can be checked on the 'At A Glance' box on each trip page. Most of our trips have a maximum altitude of 3,000 metres. If you are unsure or are joining a bespoke trip, then please ask us for specific details.
Trip Cancellation/Curtailment Insurance
You should also have insurance to cover trip cancellation and curtailment. Please note that your deposit and balance payments are non-refundable, unless it is Tracks and Trails who cancel the trip due to a failure to reach the required minimum numbers. In this case we will offer you a refund or the option of transferring to another trip if one is available. We also advise that you should have insurance which covers baggage loss/equipment damage as Tracks and Trails will not be held responsible for loss/damage to baggage/equipment.
As well as medical cover, we recommend that you have appropriate travel insurance so that if you fall ill and test positive for COVID-19 prior to (or during) your trip, you will be financially covered for cancelling your trip. You should also consider booking a policy that covers you if you have to cancel or curtail your holiday because you have to self-isolate. If you choose to cancel, cancellation charges will be payable, but if the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy, you may be able to reclaim these charges. Please read the clauses below detailing trip cancellation and curtailment.
Travel Insurance covering COVID-19 is now available from a number of suppliers, Campbell Irvine, Trailfinders and Staysure. Please check their websites for the latest information on what is and isn't covered. It is likely that more companies will offer COVID related cover in the future.
All of the above insurances are detailed in our Terms and Conditions.
If you are joining a trip in the UK helicopter/mountain rescue insurance is not required as this is a free service.
For further details, please read the Insurance section on our website.
Winter mountain weather in the European Alps can vary considerably, and in this respect it is no different to any mountain environment where the terrain influences the weather and it can change from valley to valley.
In winter the weather can deliver everything from clear blue skies, and glorious sunshine, to heavy snowfall and strong winds. Essentially, as with all mountain journeys, you should be prepared for any eventuality.
Temperatures vary depending on the month, generally December, January, and February are colder, but by March and April the temperatures are warming up and spring is on the way.
In December and January they can range from -10°Celsius (14°F) to 3°Celsius (37.4F), in February from -5°Celsius (23°F) to 7°Celsius (44.6°F), and in March from 0°Celsius (32°F) to 13°Celsius (55.4°F).
The above figures are a general indication only as the weather can vary considerably year on year for any given month.
The cross country skiing equipment we will use features lightweight track classic skis with skins (not skate skis or waxables), NNN (or similar) boots, bindings and poles. The total ski hire for the weekend is approximately 45 Euros per person. We ask that you pay this sum directly to the ski shop. Ski equipment hire is arranged in advance.
Please make note of your equipment hire on our Booking Form. We will need to know your height, weight, normal shoe size (you must give us your everyday shoe size and not your personal adjustment for wearing boots) and the measurement of your height up to your armpits (for ski pole hire).
Ski passes can be purchased once you arrive and are expected to cost approximately 20 Euros in total for the 3 days.
Your safety while skiing is our top priority. All skiers are requested to adhere to the Code of Conduct published by the International Ski Federation, or FIS. The aim is to make you, the skier, aware of how to avoid risks, take responsibility and act thoughtfully while on the cross-country ski tracks.
When packing for a trip in the mountains it is important to have appropriate equipment and clothing. This kit list features items we believe are necessary for the weather you will encounter and accommodation you will be staying in.
We use 'classic' style cross country track skis for this trip either ‘fishscales’ or ‘skintec’. You can choose to bring your own 'classic' track skis, however, do check with us first to ensure they are suitable.
Skis, boots, and poles - can be hired at the start of the trip. The cost of hire is indicated in 'Trip Information'. If you are intending to hire you must inform us as soon as possible as equipment must be booked in advance. The type of ski supplied by the hire shop is provided in the 'Ski Rental' section of the Trip Information page. If in doubt about the suitability of your own skis please contact us.
Personal First Aid
**Supplementary snacks if you follow a gluten free or coeliac diet**
Leaders are all first aid trained and carry their own first aid kit
On our Italian Ski Breaks the lunches are definitely one of the highlights. We do not include the cost of lunches in your trip fee as we find that our guests prefer to make their own choice at lunchtime. In Cogne there are various options for cosy and characterful cafes serving excellent local dishes at a very reasonable cost. We would normally stop at one of these and take a leisurely lunch break or we may eat at one of the local villages. It really depends on how far we have skied!
On your itinerary you will find an indication of the amount of ascent and descent you can expect each day. This offers a guideline to how much effort might be expended each day and allows you to decide, based on previous experience, if your fitness and stamina are correct for the trip.
We make every attempt to ensure these statistics are as accurate as possible, but ask you to note that the most modern of technology used to record these details can show considerable variations in terms of ascent, descent, and in particular distance. In other words no two people using GPS devices on the same route will have exactly the same details recorded at the end of the day.
The statistics given should be used as a 'general' indication of the effort required.
It is useful to arrive at your destination with some cash in the local currency, however, on most occasions it is relatively easy to visit a 'cash machine' after arrival and withdraw money on a credit or debit card. Some of our locations are an exception to this in particular Norway, where the accommodation will often have no facilities for withdrawing cash, but they will take a credit card.
On many of our trips we will visit remote cafes/farms where it is wonderful to enjoy a drink and a cake, at places such as these they will only accept payment in the local currency in cash.
On our trips we encourage you to experience local tastes and dishes that reflect the culture of the country and for this reason many of our accommodation options will be family run with a reputation for the traditional food of the region.
If you have a 'special' diet because of an allergy or intolerance to a certain food type which will make you ill the accommodation will cater for this as best they can, eg gluten free, nut free, lactose free.
If you are vegetarian then this is not a problem as the hotels/refuges are used to being asked for vegetarian meals. Our accommodation will try to cater for those with vegan diets but in remote refuges in the mountains this is more difficult. If you would like to discuss the suitability of a trip for a vegan diet please contact us. Gluten-free diets will be possible with regard to the evening meals, but we would advise that you bring along some gluten-free snacks for your breakfasts and lunches.
If you have a 'special' diet which is NOT because of an allergy or intolerance, and is not 'veggie' then we apologise, but we cannot cater for this. The accommodation on the popular routes will be catering for many people each evening, in some cases up to 70/80 meals per night, 7 days a week, and realistically they cannot produce many different meal options unless the food will result in illness.
The countries we visit all have tap water which is drinkable. If for any reason a particular hotel is having a problem with a remote mountain water supply they will normally post a sign over the tap indicating that you must not drink the water. At all times you are welcome to ask your guide/instructor if the water can be drunk. We would ask, for environmental reasons, that you avoid using single-use plastic bottles, and bring a water bottle that can be used repeatedly.
A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required for visits to countries outside the EU, such as Norway. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice.
We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:
Note that if your trip involves staying in a mountain refuge/rifugio/hut that electric sockets may be in short supply and for that night you may not be able to charge any items. Although the accommodation will have electricity this will often be supplied by solar panels or a generator and limited to use by the staff. For this reason we advise that carrying a small slimline and lightweight 'battery pack' can be very useful for recharging phones which many of you will also use as your camera.
Before booking consider whether you expect to be in the appropriate physical condition on the date of your departure to allow you to fully participate in and enjoy your holiday. If you have any doubts because of an illness or injury it would be advisable to check with your doctor.
For UK residents travelling to an EU country you should obtain and bring with you a free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This entitles you to state provided medical treatment in certain European countries, but is not a substitute for medical travel insurance.
If you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it. The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. Please check this before departing. We advise that you always carry your insurance documents with details of the Emergency Medical telephone number for your insurance provider, and your policy number.
We feel strongly about protecting the environment and do not encourage the use of single-use plastic items. We would ask that you arrive with a ‘water bottle’ or ‘hydration system’ that can be used repeatedly. We would point out that we operate a ‘zero tolerance’ for rubbish, and would ask you to remove all your rubbish items from the mountain even those you consider to be bio-degradable. In particular we ask that you remove any toilet tissue.
You can read our full policy here.
Working across international boundaries, and with various currencies means that the price of our trips can change overnight. We have, however, undertaken to guarantee that once you have paid your deposit the price of your trip is fixed. In this respect we urge you to book early to ensure that you receive the price advertised on our website. The website price may increase due to currency fluctuations, but we guarantee that the price advertised on the date of your booking will be maintained in your individual case.
When booking a trip during the pandemic we ask that you keep an open mind and be willing to adapt and be flexible.
Any holiday taken during the Covid-19 pandemic may be subject to change and with little or no notice of that change. As the past months have proven no-one can predict the situation from one week to the next, however, we will do our very best to gauge the best response to any new developments. New restrictions or guidelines might affect where we eat out, which accommodation we can stay in, and potentially transport arrangements if the numbers in vehicles are restricted.
Itineraries may not be exactly as advertised due to new regulations or restrictions. We are sure there will be various scenarios which we have not even thought about that might lead to a change or adaptation in the itinerary.
Please read our Covid-19 Cancellation Policy and ensure you have appropriate insurance as per our recommendations. We also ask that you make yourself aware of the entry requirements of any country you are visiting on your trip. We have compiled a Travel Links Advice list to help you source the correct information.
Prices may vary depending on date.
|Meet In||Cogne, Italy|
A fun film made by one of our guests, Richard Hughes, on our Italian Ski Break.
You will be staying in the lovely village of Cogne, in the Gran Paradiso National Park. This is the oldest national park in Italy and home to a wide range of flora and fauna. While cross country skiing it is normal to see chamois and ibex foraging in the snow. Enjoy the film.