Dispatch From…the Aosta Valley
Skiing in Italy—a father-son bonding trip that’s more affordable and accessible than the American West, with way better food
If you’re raising a teenager, as I am, you’ve probably been served up lots of parental wisdom in your social feeds. One of my favorites (there aren't many) is that the time you spend together on a ski chairlift is the most valuable, uninterrupted seven minutes you’re likely to get from them.
My 16-year old, Willem, and I tested this out recently when we visited the Italian Alps. This was our first solo ski trip as father and son, but our second to Italy as a family. A year earlier, we ventured to the Dolomites. This time, the two of us tried the Aosta Valley. The resort towns of Courmayeur, La Thuile and a few others represent the Italian side of the famed Mont Blanc mountains of the Alps. (The better-known French resort, Chamonix, is just on the other side, through a tunnel.)
Our motivations for skiing in Europe were part romantic, part practical. Who doesn't love the ideal of experiencing the Alps, with its Slim Aarons history of social swells taking in the sun between runs, cocktails and cigarettes in hand. But there’s also a sensible reason to consider the continent for a ski trip, and that’s the exorbitant costs of just about everything at the top U.S. resorts during peak season. From airfare to accommodations and lift tickets, skiing in the western US has become chokingly expensive around the holidays and school breaks.