By DEVLIN BARRETT THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted Jan 18, 2004
“Once you get out there, the price of things like lift tickets, food, even a beer in a bar, is about half of what you would pay at a lot of resorts in the (American) West,” said Rick Reichsfeld, who has been running tours to Courmayeur for years, and married a local.
The picturesque Italian village offers visitors a gondola within easy walking distance of most of the hotels, and well-kept cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, shops and more gelato vendors than one small town should rightly need.
Courmayeur is reached by flying into Milan, then arranging a bus or van ride of a couple hours into the mountains. With the right driver to point out nearby landmarks, jet-lagged visitors can also catch a glimpse of medieval castles scattered along the route.
Lift tickets are good for the entire valley, so you can use the same pass to try out a number of mountains like nearby Cervinia, where you can ski Switzerland and Italy in one day under the shadow of the world-famous Matterhorn, or take a quick side trip to France.
Exiting the gondola at Cervinia’s peak, skiers immediately cross a yellow line in the stone walkway indicating they have entered Switzerland. As two bored Swiss policemen watch, each skier must choose: turn right, toward the Italian side, or left into Switzerland. Or just ski down, then climb in a car for a quick drive to Chamonix or another French mountain….
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