Skiing's just been made easier in the Dolomites with the new 'starpass'. But there's lots more on offer if hitting the slopes isn't for you.
Italy's northern autonomous region of Trentino is a place where two European cultures meet. "We are a mix of Austrian mentality and Italian mentality. So I hope we get the best of them both," says Mirta Valentini, Head of Sales Support for the Trentino tourist board.
Once part of Austria, the region is renowned for its lakes, mountains, castles and rich culture and traditions. These include the Ladin ethnic group, which has its own language, derived from a "Vulgar Latin" language left over from the Romanized Alps.
At this time of year, the mountain destination is turning its attention to winter: "Last year we did not have the winter season, so we are very happy to see it's already snowing and our peaks are white," says Valentini.
Where can I go skiing in Trentino?
Trentino's ski resorts are scheduled to open towards the end of November. Because of the pandemic "we've done a lot of new things because we had time to think about it," says Valentini.
A 'Starpass' has also been introduced for the Campiglio Dolomiti di Brenta ski area (Madonna di Campiglio, Pinzolo and Folgarida-Marilleva) which enables you to pay as you ski. "That's a new idea because, until now, prices were always fixed. Now you pay for exactly what you use. It's revolutionary".
"So if you only ski for two hours or three hours you don't have to pay for five hours," explains Valentini.
On top of this, the prices are also dynamic. "So if you buy your ski pass in advance it can be cheaper, but also there are peak hours and peak days where you pay more, but if you come on a quiet day, it's cheaper".
Is Trentino a good place to go skiing?
The region is probably best known for its iconic Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO world heritage site. "They really are unique. Like the rocky mountains, you have to see it once in your life, because it really is something," says Valentini.
"Then, of course, you are in Italy. So you have good food and wine. It's important for us that you have high quality meals, even on the slopes. We don't have self-service in our mountain huts.
"We also have great family-run hotels, with an average of 50 to 60 beds. So they are very small like boutique hotels".
What outdoor activities are there in Trentino?
The pandemic also allowed new experiences to be created for non-skiers, including spending a night in an igloo, full moon snowshoeing, horse trekking and dog sledging.
You can also have a special dinner cooked by a private chef and served in a private lounge, or head out with pisteurs to see how snowmakers work and how they prepare the slopes.
Further afield, you can visit the Christmas market at Lake Garda.
"We have eight different lakes in Trentino, and we are very strong in water-based activities like rafting, canyoning, windsurfing and sailing. Mountain biking and trekking are also very popular in our region".
"If you're into the outdoors, it's a dream to come to our region".
What are the best places to eat in Trentino?
As soon as you book your accommodation, you can access your guest card which allows you to visit museums and use public transport for free. There is also a history and art cultural trail, beginning in Trento which takes you through the region's castles and galleries, fine houses and churches.
The region also has several Michelin starred restaurants, but the smaller, more traditional restaurants serving local fare shouldn't be missed. Dishes such as strangolapreti (dumplings made with potato and flour and flavoured with spinach and cheese), or Canederli (bread dumplings served in a rich beefy broth with polenta) are typical of the mountainous parts of the region.
What are the travel restrictions for Trentino?
If you come to Europe and are fully vaccinated, you just need to show your green pass - the EU wide vaccination certificate. If you come from the UK, you need to do a test 48 before you come, as well as show your NHS vaccination certificate.
If you're not fully vaccinated, then you have to do a test every 48 hours. You don't need the green pass to go into hotels, but you need them in restaurants.
Skiers will need to wear masks on ski lifts.
Visit Trentino has more information on the Coronavirus situation in the region.