This weekend it is Courmayeur where my guests from a financial company in Stockholm are headed for their annual meeting in the Alps.
Despite the fact that my mother and father met there, and that my grandparents are buried in the cemetery of the village, I have not been spending so much time there the last couple of decades.
Somehow there is a kind of people who go to Monterosa for skiing and some other who go to Courmayeur, at least if you are Italian as I am. However, I took my first ski lessons by mythical Maestro Cipolla there when I was 3 and my mother was on top of the Grand Jorasses when she was 18… I like Courmayeur, it is only I feel a little different there.
The town is chic, and the people who once upon a time were hard mountain foxes are now trying to elevate the tourist service at a five star international level. And it is difficult! Some of the hotels are still ruled by people from town, and I chose one of the most typical, still in the hands of the same family since 3 generations: hotel Berthod. And we still found 3 generations on place: Giulia at the reception, her mother in the kitchen, uncle Alessio who fix all, and her grand mother ruling everyone. This is pretty authentic, we think. Genuine tourism.
Via Roma is the shopping paradise of the Italian Alps, together with Cortinas main square perhaps. But the shops are closed on Wednesday and many of them open only on weekends, for the people coming from Milan and Torino. Behind Moncler and Gucci, there are the shops that have always been here, and where the Italians really go: Guichardaz is probably the best, and the book store, Buona Stampa, with the beautiful sign that says you will not understand why they have always open, before you get inside – a great passion for books, they have!
The ski system has been blessed by pretty nice snowfall, the best in Italy this year, and they are glad about that, in Courmayeur! The slopes are not crowded on a Thursday afternoon and I take my long run from the top of the Col Checrouit to the bottom. The Mont Blanc lift is brand new, Sky way its selling name, but many other lifts here are from the past, as Youla lift, which still has an operator inside to be able to manually close the door of the gondola!
The restaurants down town Courmayeur are difficult: food medium, price stellar, to be in a mountain resort in Italy anyway!
There is a good pizza at the La Terrazza, and we went there for lunch. But I had to find out some really good and genuine place for dinner, that could suit the refined taste of the Swedish cultivated city people I was guiding, and this was a strange task. Chiecco’s owner Anna told us to try the new restaurant at La Palud, the end of the road with only the Mont Blanc above, named Dandelion. Arianna has a few courses on the menu of her restaurant, delicious and revisited rustic style, exactly as I wished. Cotechino with mustard and crispy veal side with vegetable in the veal’s real “sugo” was great! Next evening it was time to visit a classic, with typical Aosta Valley food as polenta, meat and mushrooms, and we ended up at Baita Ermitage, really outside the spectacular Via Roma. Happy we did!