Breuil was a quiet climbing village before Mussolini constructed one of the first purpose-built winter sports resorts in 1936. When modern buildings dominated the skyline, Breuil's rustic ambience soon disappeared, although a couple of old buildings were saved. Nowadays, Breuil Cervinia, set-apart from the more famous Zermatt by the small issue of the Matterhorn, lacks the alpine charm of its near-neighbor and the view of the great mountain. To compensate for its scenic shortcomings, it is marketed as 'Il al sole del Cervino' - the sunny side of the Matterhorn.
The main lifts out of the resort, which start where someski areas end, goes up to Plan Maison, the principal mid-mountain hub at 2,550m. From here, a gondola, or three fast chairs and cable-car, make the ascent up to the Cervinia / Zermatt ridge and the borderline between Italy and Switzerland. If you're not crossing the border, acres of fast cruising red terrain await you up to Cervinia, with more than 1,200m of snowsure vertical.
If that doesn't satisfy, then it's likewise possible to ski starting at the top of the cable-car down to the village of Valtournenche, an inexpensive, more attractive option to Cervinia's rather stark architecture. At 22km, this is one of the longest runs in the world. The 2,350m of vertical would give you a hearty appetite for a long lunchin one of the simple eateries at Valtournenche's .
Although Cervinia supplies a wealth of skiing, none of it is demanding enough and experts will be enticed to cross the border to sample Zermatt's legendary steep stuff.
The Chalet Etoile is Cervinia's best mountain restaurant. If the weather turns dodgy at altitude, the Rifugio Teodulo, up at Plateau Rosa, serves excellent grappa and genepy. The Bontadini mountain hut has an large sun terrace and dishes up good-value Italian staples in cunning surroundings.
The funpark at the Fornet run, near Plan Maison, has a half-pipe, jumps and a boardercross park. If you want to get even higher, you should book a guide: Cervinia is likewise a big heliski center and there are other rightfully spectacular off-piste descents from the Piccolo Cervino (Klein Matterhorn).
© 2012 Athena Goodlight
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