The reputation of Sestriere has improved significantly in recent years and it is now one of the liveliest spots in the Milky Way ski area. Whilst the world’s first purpose built ski resort is always likely to be a bit of an eyesore great strides have been made in recent years towards making it a more desirable place both on and off the slopes. The hosting of the World Cup in 1997 and then the 2006 Winter Olympics acted as catalysts to continual improvement, and the town now boasts over 30 restaurants, 9 mountain restaurants and more than 40 bars and clubs.
Visitors will be impressed by the modestly priced menus that can be found both on and off the slopes, and prices here don’t seem to have caught up with the resorts of the French and Swiss Alps. A normal pizza is around 6 euros and it isn’t impossible to find a 3 course meal for under 20 euros. Cuisine in Sestriere is almost exclusively Italian and the vast majority of restaurants display distinct Susa Valley characteristics in their cooking. Traditional ingredients of this high altitude valley include veal, goat and chamois meat along with the distinctive Toma cheese that changes in taste as it matures. Mushrooms also play a big part in cooking and the local wine ‘Chiomonte’ is perfect to wash it all down! This distinctive wine is produced from grapes grown at altitudes in excess of 1000m.
Apres ski has a much more cosmopolitain feel to it with the resort attracting plenty of British and Scandinavian visitors. You can find almost anything to suit, from outdoor bars to live music venues and classy wine bars, and prices are generally pretty reasonable. There are no shortage of late night venues either, but perhaps the biggest downside of Sestriere is the way in which it can lack atmosphere during the week and get overcrowded at weekends due to its accessibility from several large conurbations and 3 international airports. In summary, Sestriere has not yet joined the premier league of alpine party towns and neither does it offer the best range of eateries, but it has sufficient bars and restaurants to be as relaxed or as hectic as you like… without breaking the bank!