The winter sports season is well underway and usually continues until April. Italians traditionally take time off work and school in mid-February for what is known as a settimana bianca. Clearly, the higher you go, the more certain you will be of finding good snow. However, the main resorts are now equipped with artificial snow cannons, making skiers less reliant on weather conditions. The larger resorts are generally equipped for the newer snow sports such as snowboarding and snowrafting, as well as providing the more traditional downhill ski slopes and cross-country tracks. Many places also offer ski schools for children.

Below are some resorts for skiers based in Rome. The word has it that the best resorts for day-trippers are the Campo Felice complex and nearby Ovindoli.

Monte Livata 1,324 m

Distance from Rome: 90 km approx.

Where: Situated in the Arcinazzo highlands northeast of Subiaco in the province of Rome, Monte Livata is the winter sports resort nearest to the capital.

Getting there: By car, take the A24 for LAquila, turning off at Subiaco. You can also take Via Tiburtina, which runs roughly parallel to the A24. Follow the signs to Monte Livata, which is about 14 km from Subiaco.

Further information: www.livata.it.

Monte Terminillo 2,216 m

Distance from Rome: 100 km approx.

Where: A longstanding favourite for daytrips from Rome, situated northeast of Rieti north of Rome, Terminillo is known as Romes mountain. The main resorts on Monte Terminillos slopes are Pian de Valli (1,614 m), Terminilluccio (1,864 m), Terminilletto (2,108 m) and, for cross-country pistes, Campoforogna (1,695 m).

Getting there: By car, take the Autostrada del Sole to the Roma Nord exit then follow the signs to Rieti/Terminillo, or the SS 4 Via Salaria for Rieti. At Rieti turn onto the 4 bis to Terminillo. By train, from Romes Stazione Termini to Rieti and then by bus to Terminillo (about 19 km).

Further information: www.monteterminillo.net.

Campo Catino 1,787 m

Distance from Rome: 110 km approx.

Where: In Ciocaria in the province of Frosinone, about 18 km from the mediaeval town of Guarcino.

Getting there: By car, take the A2 in the direction of Naples. Take the Anagni exit and carry on in the direction of Fiuggi Fonte. Follow the road signposted for Guarcino.

Further information: Campo Catino ski station, tel. 0775435936.

Rocca di Cambio 1,434 m (base for Campo Felice complex)

Distance from Rome: 120 km approx.

Where: Situated in the province of LAquila in Abruzzo, Rocca di Cambio is the highest municipality in the Apennines. It is the base for the Campo Felice winter resort complex, which includes Rocca di Cambio (1,434 m), Rocca di Mezzo (1,329 m) and Ovindoli Monte Magnola (1,375 m), about 15 km away.

Getting there: By car, take the A24 for LAquila. A few kilometres before reaching the town, take the Tornimparte exit for Campo Felice. To go directly to Ovindoli, take the A24 and turn onto the A25 towards Avezzano. After Avezzano take the Celano exit.

You can also travel by bus from Romes Stazione Tiburtina to LAquila and then take another bus to the resorts. Note that this can take over two hours.

Further information: Pro-Loco Rocca di Cambio, tel. 0862918100, email: prolocoroccadicambio@tin.it, www.campofelice.it.

The rules of the snow

Skiing is a dangerous sport and bad accidents occur each year, especially on busy ski runs. Make sure you are thoroughly aware of the rules of the snow before venturing out. Consideration for others is fundamental and common sense is necessary. The ski runs should be kept clear and skiers who fall should get off the runs as quickly as possible.

Always bear in mind the rules of precedence. For instance, on cross-country pistes, the descending skier is the one who has precedence. At junctions on downhill runs, you must give way to skiers coming from your right.

Those under 14 years of age must wear a helmet when skiing. Helmets are also obligatory for anyone participating in a competition.

Qualified instructors say that children may begin to learn how to ski from the age of 4-6 years.

Costs

The following are approximate prices and are likely to vary according to the destination:

Individual lessons with qualified instructor from the Federazione Italiana Sport Invernali (FISI): e30 per hour.

Day pass for ski-lift: e28.

Equipment hire per day (skis, ski boots, goggles): e30.

Further afield

The Abruzzo region has a large number of resorts (see Rocca di Cambio above) scattered over the Apennine mountain range. For example Roccaraso (1,326 m) about 170 km from Rome is the operational base for the Aremonga snow sports area. However, this may be a little far for a day trip. For further information on winter resorts in Abruzzo see www.regione.abruzzo.it/turismo/monti/index.html.

For more information

For detailed and up-to-date information on snow conditions and pistes worldwide (including Italy and Lazio) see www.skiinfo.com.

For general information on winter resorts in Italy see www.skiweb.it.

For information on Il Bus della Neve (Snow Bus) from Romes Stazione Tiburtina see www.noisport.it.

For information on general bus transport in the Lazio region see www.cotralspa.it.