I interviewed my top skiing guide in the Alps to find out his favourite runs, where to go for the best mountain meal, and where he longs to ski next...
How did you first become passionate about skiing?
I started skiing when I was three and a half years old and I'm still in love with it.
Tell us about how you became a ski instructor and guide?
My father and I learnt together when I was very young. I started racing a little, and I'm extremely grateful to my father, for he held down two jobs at the same time in order for me to be able to do this (it’s an expensive sport if you want to do it seriously). I had to make a choice over school or racing. Many people give up their education in order to become ski racers and many don't make it, so I decided my education was more important. Instead, I chose to have the best of both worlds. Unsure if I would make it, I studied whilst also passing the exams to become a ski instructor. I then started working as a ski instructor and guide, and after a while I became the manager of the ski school in Cervinia.
Favourite skiing destination?
I would say Breuil-Cervinia - Zermatt for its hugeness and its landscapes, even compared with my beloved Champoluc - Monterosa Ski resort in Italy, where I'm from originally.
If you could live at one hotel in the mountains?
The Rosa Alpina in the Dolomites.
Best mountain restaurant?
Chalet Etoile - Cervinia.
Where to escape the crowds?
It really depends. I would always skip the big French resorts, both for value for money and for the amount of people. There are many hidden pearls in the Alps, where you can ski in high season without queuing too much. All the resorts in Aosta Valley are like that.
Where do you recommend for a first-time skier or snowboarder in Europe?
I would suggest Pila, Livigno, Madonna di Camoiglio.
What’s been your most nerve-racking mountain experience with a client?
I had a very scary incident once whilst skiing off-piste with a client who started to panic when we were traversing a very steep slope. I had to calm him down and gently coax him along. It really was not funny at the time, but it ended up in a lovely bar with many drinks and I'm sure it's a story he lives to tell back at home!
Best off-piste or heli-skiing you’ve ever done?
How do you prepare for the start of the season?
I always do cardio and weight training on my own 3/4 times a week to get ready for the ski season - it’s very important. You can feel the skis really differently and enjoy it much better.
Do you stay in the mountains over summer?
Deffinitely, our summers are simply amazing. The colours are brighter and more varied, you are not surrounded and blinded by total white!! And there is so much more to do and to enjoy: biking, climbing, trekking, canyoning, rafting etc.
Brand of ski-gear and why?
I love Peak Performance. I think they are very comfortable, cool and warm. Bolle Royal for goggles are the best.
Favourite brand of sunscreen?
There are so many…I have different ones. It's so important to always carry it with you though!
What do you never ski without in your pockets?
Something to eat.
Where do you long to go next?
I’d love to ski the Lofoten islands or in Japan.
If you’re not in the mountains – safari, beach, or city?
Surfing and my home town in Piemonte, Vercelli.
If there’s one run that can’t be missed?
From Klein Matterhorn to Valtournenche: 21 km… ending up for a fantastic lunch at Foyer des Guides.
Funnest travelling experience you’ve ever had?
Surfing in Mexico.
What would you like to see in the future for skiing?
Slightly more convenient prices so as to open the world of skiing up to more people. Skiing is getting more and more expensive and I regret that this means that there are people that will never get to take part in this amazing sport.
Finally - your ultimate travel mantra?
Please don't make me go home!
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...