Last Updated on July 11, 2020 by Francesca Bezzone
After three months of lockdown — and 1.5 million euro (1.7 million USD) — Mont Blanc’s Skyway finally reopened last weekend.
The Skyway is Monte Bianco’s most famous cableway, that allows everyone to reach the 3.466 meters of Punta Helbronner (11.371 ft). While this isn’t the real summit of our Monte Bianco (which reaches 4.810 meters of height, about 15.780 ft), it is the highest point we non-professional mountaineers can access.
Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco, as we call it in Italian) is Europe’s highest mountain, its beauty shared between Italy (Valle d’Aosta) and France (Haute Savoie).
The Skyway Experience
According to its creators, the Skyway cableway “isn’t a simple cableway. It’s an idea to bring Man closer to the mountains and to the sky, to widen horizons and break all borders.”
Mont Blanc’s Skyway opened in 2015, and offers a full on mountain experience. It comprises three stations: Courmayeur (known as “The Valley”), at 1.300 meters (4.265 ft), Pavillon (“The Mountain”) at 2.173 meters (7.129 ft) and Punta Helbronner (“The Sky”), at 3.466 meters (11.371 ft).
Each station has its own attractions, of course: Courmayeur is a beautiful Alpine village and skiing resort, known worldwide. The Pavillon station is a great, multifaceted experience that brings together nature, shopping, wine, food and even cinema. Here, you’ll find a terrace to enjoy breathtaking views on the Alps and the Veny Valley, the Ristorante Alpino (which is still closed at the moment, due to the Covid-19 emergency) and the Mountain Bar and Pizza: ever thought of having pizza at 7.000 feet? Well, here’s your opportunity!
Wine lovers can experience high altitude wine making and tasting at Cave Mont Blanc and , of course, nature lovers have options, too: during the Summer, they can enjoy the Botanical Gardens, while in the Winter they can enjoy the snow at Campo Ciaspole (ciaspole are snowshoes).
The last stop of Mont Blanc’s Skyway is at Punta Helbronner. Here, of course, the mountain is queen. At the heart of the station is a circular terrace to enjoy views of the Alps and their valleys, but you’ll also find a Sala Cristalli, a crystals exhibit focused on the minerals of the Alps, the Bistrot Panoramic restaurant and the famous Sky Vertigo, a glass walk suspended on the mountains. At Punta Helbronner you’ll also get a Feltrinelli bookshop, the highest in Italy!
Reopening the Mont Blanc’s Skyway
The reopening of the Mont Blanc’s Skyway is a symbol of Italy’s ripartenza, the process of starting up again after the dramatic months of lockdown.
But the Covid-19 emergency is far from over and keeping our guard up is absolutely essential: enters the sanitizing booth Protego. Yes, Protego, like the Harry Potter spell, of course!
Its creator, Carmen Santagati, president of Italian startup IPS4, explained to Il Corriere della Sera how the idea — and the name — for the project were suggested to her by her young daughter: “While we were on lockdown, my daughter and I were watching again the Harry Potter movies and at some stage she told me, ‘mom, we should use the protego spell against coronavirus.’ It was the right inspiration and, in a short time, we created the Protego system.
But what is it?
Protego is a sanitizing booth that can measure your temperature and won’t allow access to the Skyway to anyone with a temperature of 37.5C and higher. After temperature control, the sanitization process will take place: at the heart of it, a special molecule patented by the Università della Calabria and delicately fragranced with the scent of edelweiss, able to kill up to 90% of viruses and bacteria.