Catch of the ski-car in Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps

Catch of the ski-car in Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps

Normally the heart rises as the bus from the airport winds up the mountain and you catch the first glimpse of a skier on the slopes.

This time I felt a bit anxious – as I can say, there are many parents who bring a child to ski for the first time. Except in this case, we took three. I had exposed this for years. A walk in the winter can be annoying if someone is too hot, someone is too cold and someone wants the toilet as soon as it is fully packed. Surely skiing would be all that ten times? But for everything it has to be a first time. And when our youngest became six years old and the eldest was eleven, the time had come.

The most important question was: where? I wanted to avoid the well-known ski cities. On the other hand, I did not want one of these low-lying starter resorts with a few tow lifts and no snow. I planned to go skiing myself.

Piste perfection: Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps

Piste perfection: Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps

Piste perfection: Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps

Then someone suggested Passo Tonale in the Italian Alps, about three hours from Verona airport. Here we found a resort that had everything except queues and fast-paced maniacs.

On both sides of a thoroughfare at 1,880 m above sea level. built, it has a lot of snow down to street level.

We traveled with Crystal Ski Holidays, a number of hotels throughout the city, and stayed at the Grand Hotel Paradiso, which is right on the slopes next to several lifts. It also has a swimming pool in the basement (après ski paradise for children).

The whole place is family-oriented, with its own Crystal Ski staff, to soothe any initial fears of ski lessons, passports and loans.

I half-expected a mutiny on the first day, but we dropped Matilda, Phoebe, and Hal at their class and left without a glance.

In many resorts, the nursery slopes are more like transport links where everyone meets at the foot of the mountain. Here, beginners have something of the mountain for themselves. However, this is also a place for decent skiers. There are 70 km of marked pistes, from the Presena glacier at 3,000 m down to the neighboring resort of Ponte di Legno (1,250 m) and beyond.

There's a downhill race track and six or so punchy black runs for those who like to ski on the steep side, but the majority of the 42 runs are for intermediates. At the end of the week, my wife and I had to cover half of the resort.

The team from Crystal Ski (mainly from Italy) all speaks good English. Every morning after the ski school, our trio returned to us and made steady progress.

On the piste: Matilda, ten and Hal, six of them up

On the piste: Matilda, ten and Hal, six of them up

On the piste: Matilda, ten and Hal, six of them up

In the middle of the week my three tried their first red run. On the last day we explored together the upper slopes, and my six-year-old happily passed me on extensive slopes in the direction of Ponte di Legno.

Our half board offer included a rich breakfast buffet and dinner. At lunchtime, however, I found that restaurants in this part of the Alps were half the price of their Chichi counterparts in the smarter areas of Switzerland or Austria.

There was € 8 for grilled chicken and chips or a large plate of tagliatelle ai funghi in Da Ragnetto, a village club popular with ski instructors.

Non-skiers can reach most places, including the Panorama Café at the top of the glacier by cable car.

Passo Tonale also has a lot of old world charm and intrigue. On one side of the city there is a monastery and on the other side a battlefield (with tunnels) from the First World War. New for this winter is a two-seat zipper down the mountain.

This place also has the advantage of being flat – an undervalued quality on a ski holiday. Vertical resorts can be hard work with growling kids in tow, but there were virtually none of our three.

With the exception of the day when her father led her on a black runway in the blizzard, the journey was a triumph.

The skier was really caught.

TRAVEL FACTS

Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalki.co.uk; 020 8610 3123) offers a week half board at the four star Grand Paradiso Hotel online from £ 418 per person (with two nights stay), including flights from Gatwick and Transfers (departure on Dec 14th ) 2019).

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