With Florence’s weather ranging from rainy and yucky to reasonably sunny and warm, it’s hard to imagine that there is a decent ski resort only an hour and a half away from the city. Yet Abetone is the closest skiing in Tuscany and it’s great for either a day trip or a weekend. This season (winter 2013) there’s excellent snow cover and even now, heading into March, it looks like there will be a few good weeks to come.
How to get to Abetone from Florence
Abetone is located in the province of Pistoia just 1.5 hours away from the city of Florence. Here is how to get there by car (see below for bus). If you are already at the north side of the city or are leaving from Sesto Fiorentino or Prato you’re even closer! To get there, you take the A11 highway (also known as Firenze-Mare) in the direction of Prato, Pistoia, Lucca etc. Exit at Pistoia and you’ll be on a bit of divided connecting road for less than one kilometer. If you need to fill up the tank or use the washroom, there is a Beyfin gas station here that has the best prices in the area, and the last easily accessible washroom until you hit Abetone. Take the next exit which says Abetone and you’ll be on a 2 lane mountain road for the next 50 minutes or so, more if there is snow. The final stretch of this road is quite steep and there is an area to put on chains.
Note that it is obligatory to have chains or snow tires to drive on the highways in Italy in the winter time, and many small roads into the mountains also have and enforce this rule. Chains may well be necessary if you’re arriving at Abetone when it has snowed in the previous 24 hours.
You will pass through a first ski village where there is a chairlift, but don’t stop here. Continue to Abetone proper and you will see street parking on the left side and then a piazza with a few parking spots in it. Try to grab the first street spot you see. Parking is paid at the parcometer by the hour and costs something like 8 euros for the day, so bring lots of 1 and 2 euro coins. If you don’t get a spot in the paid lots, you can park along the side of the road for free. There is a bar and 2 ski rental places here, and just up the hill a bit you’ll find the hut selling tickets and the Selletta chairlift.
If you don’t have a car but prefer to take the bus (be forewarned, the road is pretty twisty), the public bus system COPIT offers a day trip return bus between Florence (near the train station) and Abetone. Here is the schedule in pdf. It costs 21€ return and you get a 3 euro discount on the ski pass. There is one departure time and two return times per day.
If you prefer the liberty of driving yourself, you could consider renting a car with SIXT in Florence, either at the airport or downtown.
About the ski resort
This Tuscan family ski resort has retained more than just a touch of the old fashioned, and not the quaint 50s of Cortina but the kinda ugly 70s of backwoods Tuscany. But don’t let that put you off. Located in the Appenine mountain range, it boasts about 50km of trails and 22 lifts. The 30 trails are mostly ‘blue’ beginner/intermediate trails with a few ‘red’ intermediate/advanced runs. The base is at 1400 meters and the highest point is Monte Gomito at 1892 meters. The ski pass allows you to also ski on runs at Val di Luce, a connected resort. Unless it is socked in with fog, Val di Luce has somewhat better light than some of the slopes at Abetone, especially in the afternoon when the light gets flat on the Zeno runs.
When skiing in Italy you’ll find good food at the chalets (unlike the watery hot chocolate and frozen fries of my Canadian childhood), and Abetone has not suffered price inflation, so you can grab lunch for 8 euros, be it polenta or a plate of pasta! The chalet near the parking lot has a nice selection of pastries and a fireplace by which to sit. Unfortunately these chalets haven’t been updated to offer modern washrooms – the brown tile and limited number of stalls was for me a bit of a revelation. In some ways Abetone seems like it’s just another Tuscan town with a bar or restaurant that just happens to be on a ski hill.
The ski pass is also a pretty reasonable price. If you are able to go mid week, it is discounted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, costing only 26.50€ (2013). The weekend pass costs 36€.
Where to stay
You can easily make Abetone a day trip, but it’s less tiring if you can treat yourself to a weekend there! We stayed at hotel Abetone e Piramidi, a 4 star adjacent to where the street parking begins. Our room was nicely appointed and quiet and the service at this hotel was very good. I found the restaurant acceptable and the breakfast below average (nothing fresh) but the location and comfort is the best in the area.
This month’s Italy Blogging Roundtable topic is hills or mountains – I’ve shown you the mountain closest to me on which to practise my passion for snowboarding. Let’s see what the other female knights have produced! Read the posts, leave comments, share them with your friends – and tune in next month for another Italy Blogging Roundtable topic.
- Jessica from Andiamo – Italy Roundtable: Why do we love Italian hill towns?
- Rebecca from Brigolante – Italy Roundtable: The Colfiorito Marshlands
- Melanie from Italofile – The Seven Hills of Rome: What Are They & What Can You See
- Gloria from At Home in Tuscany – This is Tuscany too: Monte Amiata