Livigno (pronounced Livin-yo) is located high up on the Italian Alps, at about 6000 ft above sea level. Its slopes climb to almost 9000 ft, which means Livigno has usually plenty of natural snow, and does not need to go artificial: a great thing to know, when you love skiing. The village, small and quaint, is also an amazing shopping hub, with plenty of designer stores where you can buy everything for cheaper, as Livigno is a duty free town. Adored by the young also for its nightlife, Livigno is perfect for both beginner and proficient skiers. The first will enjoy the many easier slopes and the number of courses available throughout the season, the latter will be challenged by Livigno's harder routes.
Born as a tiny farming community, Livigno is a town in the Lombardia province of Sondrio, in Valtellina, with a population of just above 6000. Located high up in the Dolomites, it is a lovely destination all year round, but especially during the Winter, when it is a heaven for skiers and young snowboarders. At about 6000 ft of altitude (1816 mt), Livigno is one of the highest municipalities in the country.
As mentioned, it is a duty free area. Some of you may wonder why: the town has been allowed to apply an old law, promulgated in 1910, thanks to which commercial entities do not need to apply VAT on their goods. The reason behind this lies on Livigno's own geographical position and the fact it used to be, because of its altitude, rather difficult to reach: may it suffice to know that, up to 1953, the town would remain entirely isolated from the rest of the world for the entire Winter. Even though this is no longer the case (today Livigno is reachable all year round through the Passo del Foscagno), the area has maintained this characteristic, which helped increasing its popularity immensely.
Livigno is a lively spot both during the Winter and during the Summer: in the warmer months, people appreciate the coolness of its climate and the beauty of its landscape, compared, for its morphological characteristics, to a small-scale Tibet. This is due to the fact Livigno was created on a plateau surrounded by the Alpi Retiche.
However, when mentioning Livigno, it is to ski you think.
Skiing in Livigno
Ski holidays in Livigno offer great stuff for beginners and intermediates, both boarders and skiers. Livigno boasts modern ski lifts and well prepared ski trails while retaining the traditional rustic character of time past. The ski area is situated on the sun-drenched side of the Lombardia Raetian Alps, not far from the Swiss border and is particularly popular with British skiers and snowboarders, many of whom return year after year. This can be attributed to the fact that Livigno offers skiing and snowboarding suited to all abilities.
Of course, duty free shopping is a great incentive to come vacationing here, but there is more reasons than this to visit Livigno. In Winter, there are traditional fairs like the Ghibinèt, a sort of "trick or treat" taking place on the 6th of January, or the Carnàl, the Carnival of Livigno, a way to celebrate a typically Italian occasion differently, surrounded by the magic of snow.
In September, Livigno is home to the Torneo Internazionale di Scacchi (Livigno Chess Open), an international chess competition organized by the local chess association, attracting dozens of participants from all over the world. If you'd like to challenge yourself, you may head to Livigno in July and join the Stralivigno, a competitive international half-marathon.
How to get there
The best airports to fly to are Zürich (3 hours away), Milan Bergamo (3 hours), Milan Linate (3 1/2 hours), Milan Malpensa (4 hours) or Munich (4 1/2 hours). If you decide to fly to Zürich, you can catch the "snow-train", a charming way to begin your holidays: it rides through the Swiss and Italian Alps, and leaves you in Zernez, a village close to Livigno, where you can catch one of the many shuttle buses to Livigno itself. If you, on the other hand, decide to fly to Milan, your best option is to catch a shuttle bus from the airport to Milan Centrale train station, then take the train to Prego, the closest train station on Italian soil to Livigno. From here, you can again catch a shuttle bus.
Accomodation and Eating out
Livigno is a huge touristic destination and, as a consequence, you will find all types of accomodation. Whether you are on a budget or you want to have a luxurious vacation, Livigno has something for you. A very good option is, usually, the garnì: these are indipendent hotels, which bring together comfort and the pleasure and warmth of smaller, family run establishments. In many ways more similar to B+Bs, they very often have an in-house restaurant, that usually offers homemade, local dishes. Among Livigno's best garnì, the Baita Cecilia and the Garnì Roberta. If you prefer a hotel, check out the Hotel Helvetia, the Hotel Mota and the Hotel Bucaneve.
After those long days on the slopes, you will certainly need to get a good feed. Try some fantastically nutritious and heart warming Alpine cuisine at the Palù (which is also a hotel), the La Piöda, e the famous, Michelin-starred Ristorante Chalet Mattias.
Shopping in Livigno
As mentioned, Livigno is a tax free haven, so it's a perfect place to get some Italian wine or spirits on the cheap. As a very popular tourist destination, Livigno has some of the nicest stores, carrying amazing brands and loads of designers. If you want to get an idea of all that is available, you can check out the dedicated page on the Livigno website, where you will also get plenty of details on duty free allowance.