The best skiing in Italy south of the Alps is in Abruzzo and day trips from Rome are more than possible. There are 21 ski areas in the region forming a total of 368km of pistes.
All are reachable by car from Rome in a day. Take the A25 for Gran Sasso, Campo Felice etc. and the A24 for Roccaraso, Ovindoli, Scanno, the Majella etc.
The best skiing is from January till April with Roccaraso being the premier resort.
The region also has a well organized cross country skiing tradition and a special guide can be requested from the tourism offices.
RECOMMENDED ABRUZZO SKI RESORT WEBSITES
Roccaraso is the first ski resort of Abruzzo. What can be a dim place without snow is transformed into a satisfying ski experience during the high season.
The pistes range from 1650m to 2140m in altitude and are comparable with many Alpine resorts and often have more snow than the Alps. They combine to form 60 km of runs.
The origins of Roccaraso date from the the 12th century when it was called 'Rocca del Raso' and was part of the fiefdom of the Count of Sangro. As a holiday resort it is popular with Neapolitans as it is easily accessible from the coast only 120 km away.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
For those who find the downhill runs too timid after the Alps, why not try the range of cross country circuits which are usually close by.
And remember, the mountains here contain wolves and bears!
The two we recommend are located at Campo Felice and the National Park of the Majella.
The former is a huge natural loop of 20km which extends into the woods and around the back of a hill. Skis can be rented near the restaurant as you enter the immediate area.
The second is on the other side of the ridge from Caramanico Terme at Decontra.
A tiny hamlet from where it is possible to set out for the 'Eremo di San Bartolomeo in Legio'. The 15km route will take you to Piana Grande and a fantastic view of the Orfento valley.
The region of Abruzzo offers decent cross country skiing in winter, mainly thanks to the wet and cold winds which whip in from the Balkans over the Adriatic sea where they meet the Gran Sasso, Maiella and Sirente-Velino mountains.
Many of the paths are steamy country lanes and fine mountain bike trails in the summer. The contrast with the cold of January and February is striking.
The official guide to cross country skiing in Abruzzo highlights 15 routes.
The highest and longest is called the Giro del Puzillo and is a 15km ring between 1523 and 1982 meters above sea level.
It takes about 3.5 hours and is located inside the Campo Felice ski range and closed in by the rocky Costone hills. Bauxite mines, woods and mountain refuges all feature.
The shortest is just 4km on the eastern side of the Campo Imperatore highplain in the territory of Castel del Monte.
Practically flat, it is where we recommend you get yourself started and strictly on the beaten track for beginners.