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

Country Life Every Week - - Italy’s Winter Jewels -


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 (­men­tum­

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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;­to­ni­asaut­

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