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Winter in Lombardy

More than 70 ski areas, among which some of the most renown in Italy, 100 peaks above 3,000 m, 390 ski-lifts, 12,300 km of ski slopes: ski enthusiasts will find a real paradise in  Lombardy.

However Lombardy is a paradise also for whose who do not like ski and want to practice other winter activities. In Lombardy you'll find ski declined in all its forms (downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, ski mountaneering, free-ride skiing, snowboarding), but there's much more, fit both for grown-ups and children, with which to have fun in amusing and original activities deceiving boredom and the cold of winter.

How? Here are some tips to make the most of winter, while in Lombardy, besides skiing.

1) Snowshoeing in the moonlight

Snowshoeing group excursions, by day or by night, are organized in many valleys of Lombardy in winter. With different degrees of difficulty, they are generally also fit for families with children. During the excursions snowshoes are made available and there are rest stops and tastings along the way.

Many snowshoeing events take place especially during full moon nights, like "Caspolada al chiaro di luna" that is held every year in Vezza d'Oglio, in the Adamello ski area. Advancing in the snow with snowshoes along a moonlit trail, surrounded by beautiful mountain sceneries, makes night snowshoeing a charming sports activity.

Tryig sled-dogging, excursions on sleds drag by Siberian Husky dogs, and being a "musher", a sled conductor, for a day is possible in Lombardy. The Husky Village in Valdidentro (http://www.huskyvillage.it/), in the Valtelline Valley, and the Sled Dog Italian School (www.scuolaitalianasleddog.it), in Ponte di Legno-Tonale, organize excursions for anyone, for grown-ups and children, driving a sled drag by a pack of dogs (from 2 to 4), together with an instructor. Slipping on a sled in lightness, in a nature cloaked in snow, interacting with these extraordinary dogs is really an exciting experience. For whose who want there's also the possibility to attend specific courses to learn the job of musher.

Ice skating is another funny winter activity everyone loves. In Lombardy, besides the many indoor rinks, it is possible to skate on ice also outdoors, in evocative places as for example in Montecampione, in the Valcamonica Valley. In the center of the town, among fir-woods and breathaking views extending up to Lake Iseo, every year a pond is turned into a large skating rink, with the possibility to rent skates on site. An unusual location for ice skating is also those of the temporary outdoor rinks set up in the center of Milan during the Christmas holidays. Skating on ice in the shadow of Castello Sforzesco with a soundtrack of Christmas songs is almost like relive the atmosphere of the great American movies.

There's another amusing activity you can experience also in Lombardy in winter: it's snow-tubing, also called "snow rafting". You slip on a round rubber boat called "snow-tube" along a special slope with curves and jumps, while sitting or lying on your stomach. Slope enough, you just have to position yourself on the snow tube and let you go: fun is guaranteed. Baby-snow tubing, for children aged 3 and over, is also possible. In Lombardy you can enjoy snow-tubing in the Adamello ski area and in the Valtelline Valley (Bormio and Livigno). http://www.adamelloski.com/it/per-gli-sportivi/inverno/snow-tubing/

It's called "cable flight" and is a new exciting attraction that gives the wonderful thrill of experiencing flight. Safely harnessed and hung up to a cart, you flow along a steel cable up to a speed of 100 km/h, passing through the woods and streams of Bitto Valley. Cable flight is an amusing and safe attraction, fit for anyone – also for children  – that does not require any physical effort. In Lombardy you can try it at Fly Emotion (http://www.flyemotion.it/) in Albaredo per San Marco, Valtelline. Flights are possible also in winter, at weeekends in December and January and on holiday days (December 8, Christmas Day, January 1 and 6) to enjoy an even more striking opportunity: flying over the valley covered in snows with the setting of the snow-capped peaks. 

If all these sports activities have fatigued your muscles, there's a solution everyone agrees: a day at the spa. In Lombardy there are many spa and thermal baths (here the full list), whose benefits were known and appreciated already by the Romans. From the baths of Boario and Sirmione in the province of Brescia, to San Pellegrino, S.Omobono and Trescore Balneario near Bergamo, to the thermal baths of Miradolo, Rivanazzano and Salice Terme in the district of Pavia, up to the thermal baths of Bormio, in Valtelline, where you find the charm of the ancient Roman baths together with modern spas, the thermal baths of Lombardy are a lure you cannot refuse. After a day on the snow there's nothing better than indulging in some relaxation in the gentle warmth of the spa.

Author: Claudia Moreschi (Travel Stories)

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