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Bormio, Italy: Mountain Tour

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Bormio has two ski areas-Vallecetta and Oga-linked by a 10-minute bus ride across the Valtellina highway. From its summit, Cima Bianca, Vallecetta offers an uninterrupted vertical drop, possibly greater than that of any lift-served ski area in the world-5,860 feet-two-and-a-half times higher than Stowe’s Mt. Mansfield. People typically ski from two points partway up the mountain, Ciuk and Bormio 2000, that are reached by gondola and cable car from town. Most of the well-groomed terrain is within the ability of a lower advanced skier. Ride the upper cable car from Bormio 2000 to Cima Bianca and take one of three wide-open, beautifully undulating, groomed ribbons of snow. On the left, follow the blue-designated S. Ambrogio piste down to Ciuk; or, on the far right, make sweeping turns on the Bimbi al Sole (Children in the Sun) or the steeper Betulle (Silver Birch), a former women’s World Cup downhill, to Bormio 2000. For the run of your life, head back up to the top, then ski the whole monster, being sure near La Rocca to pick up the world championship Stelvio downhill all the way to town. La Rocca is a lively stopover-the ristorante of choice on the mountain. Morning is the best time to ski east-facing Oga, catching the early sun. Oga’s beginner and intermediate slopes-not unlike Aspen’s Buttermilk-reopen this winter with snowmaking and two new fixed chairs. Best run: From the Masucco peak, ski one of two trails leading to Forte, and continue down to Le Motte at the valley floor. Even easier is the treeless slope above Masucco. In March, when the snow becomes mushy after noon, return to Vallecetta for big vertical, perhaps venturing a shot down one of the numberless, nameless chutes that lace the mountain’s flanks.