Il freddo è buono
From chestnuts and Barolo to turreted castles and romantic mists, Italy is every bit as beautiful in the colder months. Carla Passino picks the four best winter destinations
Tucked at the foot of Mont Blanc, the pretty village of Courmayeur, with its boutique-lined streets and sweeping mountain views, has long vied with Cortina d’ampezzo, in the Dolomites, for the title of Italy’s most fashionable ski resort. Lately, however, the Mont Blanc village has inched ahead— thanks to world-class food.
First, a clutch of local restaurants, including Rifugio Maison Vieille, Château Branlant and La Chaumière, put Courmayeur on the world’s culinary map with hearty mountain dishes such as chestnut dumplings with fontina cheese and nettle sauce. Then, in 2014, came the launch of the first Momentum Ski Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience, a weekend in which top British chefs took over the reins at several Courmayeur haunts.
Now an annual event, it sees stars such as Heston Blumenthal, Claude Bosi and Sat Bains cook dishes that fuse modern gastronomy and mountain tradition: think obsiblue shrimp and truffle dumplings or slow-cooked lamb confit in salt, thyme and pine. The next event takes place from March 20 to 23, 2018 (www.momentumski.com).
A vast property comprising two villas and a chalet set in private parkland. POA. Turin Sotheby’s International Realty (00 39 0111 947 1640; www.sothebysrealty.com)
The mist that rises from the lagoon in winter gives Venice a wistful charm. It muffles the sounds of people and bells, wraps the winged lion of St Mark in a thick, cloudy blanket and turns the city’s elegant palazzi into whimsical mirages. Only the black silhouette of a gondola occasionally emerges in clear relief.
Even better, the mist’s damp chill keeps most tourists at bay, allowing you to have La Serenissima (almost) to yourself. However, if it’s colour, music and excitement you’re after, winter also brings Carnival (January 23 to February 13, 2018), with its gilded masks and magical atmosphere. The decadent Ballo del Doge, in the Baroque surroundings of Palazzo Pisani Moretta, has a reputation as the best event of the season (February 10, 2018; www.antoniasautter.it).
Set in the piano nobile of the 14th-century Palazzo Grandiben Negri, a four-bedroom apartment has frescoes and a balcony over the canal. €2.3 million through Knight Frank (020–7861 1057)