The Alternative Alps

There was a time when the idea of a ski trip to the Alps seemed like an exclusive adventure I’d never have the opportunity of experiencing. 

I envisioned white capped mountains, luxurious chalets where I’d sip a hot beverage and afternoons spent lazing at the spa after a day on the slopes. When dreaming of this I had always thought of one country, Switzerland. However, this year I discovered a new gem for snow lovers, the Italian Alps!

Nestled in the north of Italy, just past the beautiful Lake Como and up a winding mountain road is the quaint town of Livigno. This town borders Switzerland, giving you all that the Swiss Alps have to offer; gorgeous mountains, great snow and a few extra perks. Namely, Italian wine and food…What’s not to like?

January in the Italian Alps was a dream! Fresh snow falls throughout the night and clean white slopes are waiting for you to make your mark upon each morning. Every day my ski hungry friends would wake up early and head out to the slopes, eager to show off their skills and latest tricks. While of course the majority of people that go on a ski trip are there to ski or snowboard, there are those that have a different idea of a ski holiday, and I am one of them.  I’m a failed skier and a wannabe snowboarder but in reality I like the idea of winter sports more than the actual activity itself. After years of trying to be chic on the slopes I gave up, and I discovered that a ski trip without skiing is my ideal holiday. If you are like me and have wanted to join your friends on a winter holiday but feel silly for not skiing or snowboarding well fret not – there are a myriad of options for you while in the Alps, especially the Italian Alps!

Wine Pairing at Hotel Mota

This boutique hotel is located in the heart of the town, just at the bottom of the slopes. It has so many great facilities, an awesome spa, beautiful rooms, and a great restaurant. If you are able to stay here then I highly recommend it but if not then you must stop by for a wine pairing. One of their greatest amenities is their wine cellar! As you wind down the staircase and past the spa you will find yourself in a small cellar lined from floor to ceiling with some of the best Italian wines. Feel free to take a look at the artistic labels and vintage bottles that they have on display before heading to your table to enjoy a unique experience for your taste buds. 

As we were seated at our table I noticed five wine glasses in front of each place setting, an indication of a good night to come! We were then greeted by our sommelier, a well informed and charming one at that. He first related a history of the wine region that the wines came from, he brought out a map and indicated where it was in relation to us. This made it feel even more special that we were drinking local wines. Finally he explained how to properly taste the wine, how to swirl the glass and to enjoy the aroma before taking your first sip.  

Once we were properly educated the fun began. Each wine was served with a small dish that had been specially prepared to go with it and as we took bites of the food and sips of wine we noticed the notes and flavours that the sommelier had talked about. As the night progressed we began to feel like experts. Italian wines are some of the best in the world, and this experience just emphasised that even more! The venue is small and quaint so you feel as though you are getting a private experience. If you like Italian wine, and lets be honest, who doesn’t, then you simply have to go to Hotel Mota when you are in Livigno.

The Spa at the Bivio Hotel

The Bivio hotel is the place to be for both great night life and a mid day break at the cafe. Conveniently located near all the best shops and restaurants it also has, in my opinion, the best spa in the town. There are many great spas in Livigno, and they all offer different services but the Spa at Bivio has an elegance and sophistication that elevates it to the next level. There are a number of services available and I chose to have a half hour massage, which came with access to the spa facilities, such as the pool and saunas. 

As I walked into the spa I was greeted by friendly and helpful staff. They escorted me to the changing room where they provided me with a luxurious robe and towel for use in the spa. I was then treated to the most relaxing massage ever. Many visitors opt for the sports massage as they are sore from a day on the slopes, I however, just needed to relax from my long day of eating, drinking, and shopping!

Once the massage was over I was free to explore the numerous facilities for the rest of the day. Now thoroughly relaxed from my massage I made my way through the various treatment areas. I took a dip in the large heated pool with therapeutic jets, I sweated out my worries in one of the two saunas of varying heats. I then had a moment of peace in the steam room and finally was brought back to reality with a cold shower. Fortunately, the experience continued as I took a break in the relaxing area where they serve teas, fruit waters and snacks. For me the ultimate experience was what followed, a visit to the outside jacuzzi. This large and perfectly heated hot tub is located just outside the spa area. I braved the cold air for a few minutes as I quickly made my way to the jacuzzi, but once submerged in the warm water I never wanted to leave. I sat there relaxing and having a magical moment as I watched the snow fall all around me. 

As a non-skier this was a highlight of my trip, but it would equally enjoyable and perhaps even necessary for skiers and snowboarders before heading home. If you are planning on being in Livigno more than a few days a trip to the Bivio Spa is an absolute must. 

Livigno has so much to offer as a ski destination, these were just two of my favourite moments. You’ll have to visit for yourself to experience the many more restaurants, cafes and shops that make the Italian Alps a wonderful choice. 

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