There is much more to Tuscany than just beach and sea: in the winter the region becomes an ideal destination for snow-lovers. Indeed, Pistoia's Abetone ski area boasts 80 kilometres of slopes and peaks that reach almost 2,000 metres, making the large ski resort a winter paradise for snow aficionados. Here, skiers and snowboarders get to dominate 26 slopes located in some of Tuscany's most panoramic valleys: the Val di Luce, Valle dello Scoltenna, Val di Sestaione and Val di Lima. Numerous ski schools teach both children and adults tips and techniques in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding.
A winter holiday in Tuscany is not only snow-capped mountains and ski slopes: visitors also have the chance to spend a few days at the thermal springs, shopping, taste tours and naturalistic or historical excursions in Abetone and Cutigliano, as well as in the Pistoia lowlands, in towns like San Marcello Pistoiese, Gavinana and Maresca.
Abetone - A modern ski resort that promises safety, top-notch ski lifts and a wealth of slopes to dominate. The resort boasts over 50 kilometres of slopes for both novice skiers and the more experienced. Options range from the Black Diamond slopes located on Monte Gomito, the woods of Regine and Salletta to kiddie slopes. Areas are reserved for ski students, children and the disabled. Skiers can take a break from the slopes and go shopping in luxury shops and top-quality food stores to taste a range of local specialities. What to visit: the two Pyramids; the San Leopoldo Church; the Forested Botanical Gardens.
Cutigliano - If you want to ski like a true champion then the Doganaccia ski slopes in Cutigliano are the place for you. Here, skiers will find slopes for both beginners and expert skiers as well as alternatives for children, like ski tubing and cross-country skiing. Stop in a mountain refuge for a traditional Tuscan lunch or just to have a rest: try the Rifugio del Viandante or the Refugio del Bicocca. Remember that you can ski even when it's not really snowing: artificial snow allows ski buffs to hit the slopes all season long. What to visit: Museum of the People of the Pistoia Mountains; the Ecomuseum of the Pistoia Mountains.
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Medieval Hamlets in the Pistoia Mountains - Visit some of the area's most characteristic hamlets during a ski holiday in the area. Noteworthy villages are San Marcello Pistoiese, the 'queen of the Apennines'; Gavinana and the Ferrucciano Museum; and Popiglio, famous for its medieval towers. You can also visit the many museums in the area, such as: the Museum of Rural Culture in Marliana; the Dioceses Museum of Sacred Art in Piteglio and the Astronomical Observatory in San Marcello Pistoiese.
Traditional cuisine - It won't be difficult to find dishes here that will stimulate your appetite. Among the deserts, taste the Chocolate Panforte, Necci and Lamporecchio cookies. If it's savoury your after then try cured meats like finocchiona, pork and cinta Senese salamis. For a true tour of local flavours check out the Taste Tour of the Apennines. Finally, don't forget to try the restaurants participating in the Vetrina Toscana project in the province of Pistoia.
For those who seek a more cultural and artistic break form the slopes, the monumental art cities of Pistoia, Florence, Lucca and Pisa are just kilometres away.