Our experts are here to help with all your questions about Italy. This month we examine the attraction of the Dolomites, select a prosecco for panettone, and open an Italian bank account…
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What is the best all-season area in Italy to buy a second home? My wife and I are near to our retirement and want to buy a property in Italy, now we will have the time to go there quite often. We’re buying the house not only for ourselves, but also for our children and grandchildren. Can you advise us on a region where we can do great skiing, but which also offers opportunities and interesting things to do in the other seasons?
There are practical reasons to go skiing in northeast Italy: you can fly in at Innsbruck, Venice, Treviso or Verona; the slopes are wide and well-maintained; the lifts are new; the villages are authentic; the ski suits are fashionable; the food is refined; and the prices are reasonable. But the most important argument in favour of the Dolomites is aesthetic: all the mountains in these Italian Alps are beautiful, that’s why it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Sella Ronda is popular – more than 600,000 skiers make the famous Round every year. Twenty lifts in and out and a descent of 26 kilometres – it sounds like a lot of hassle, but the inhabitants of the northern Italian province of Alto Adige do it like the Austrians would. They invest millions in their infrastructure: fast gondolas for a hundred people, soft six-person chairlifts with windshields, and modern stations with sleek architecture. You need about six hours to do the Round – and that includes stops and time for lunch on the mountain. Arabba is located in the middle of the Dolomiti Superski ski area, tucked in between the Marmolada ski area on the south side and the Sella Ronda on the north side. The Sella Ronda connects four villages: Arabba, Canazei, Val Gardena and Corvara. They all have their own (quiet) ski areas, good for 500 kilometres of piste on one ski pass.
The area has fabulous slopes and thrilling ski touring races in winter; and legendary bicycle competitions and leisure tours with racing bikes and mountain bikes in summer, like the tour over legendary passes such as the Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo. The Dolomite valleys are situated at between 1,300 and 3,000 metres above sea level; and at 300 sunny days per year they offer a pleasant climate, and a magical natural landscape that entices you to explore nature and the mountains all around you, which offer great outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, golfing, climbing and swimming in the numerous and beautiful lakes. Those who prefer it a bit less hectic, or who simply want to spend quality time with the family, can relax near one of the swimming pools, wellness centres, in the animal parks, in the children’s playgrounds or in any of the other oases of peace all around.
At ItaliaCasa we have a vast and interesting offering in second homes in this area, without any rental obligations.
Barry van Eldijk, registered architect, ItaliaCasa
Prosecco for panettone
We are going to have an Italian panettone this Christmas instead of the traditional Christmas pudding. Which prosecco would you recommend accompany it and why?
Although every premium Prosecco goes very well with a Christmas panettone, I would recommend the Mionetto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG from the MO collection that is available at Majestic Wine.
Hailing from the hill slopes of the Prosecco Superiore DOCG zone, this refined extra-dry sparkling wine expresses to the highest degree the characteristics classic to the prosecco grape Glera, representing the best quality that a prosecco can achieve.
With a straw-yellow hue, the velvet-smooth yet crisp prosecco has a bouquet releasing floral scents married to emphatic notes of green apple and exotic fruit which will make it a perfect counterpart for an Italian panettone.
The stylish bottle underlines the fact that Mionetto MO Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG would also make the perfect Christmas gift for those who enjoy the finer things in life.
Miriam Dehler, Mionetto UK
Italia! legal expert
The benefits of an Italian bank account
Could you tell me whether it is better/more practical/ legal to open an Italian bank account to use when I am staying in the house I own in Italy. I am a UK resident. Also, is it better for all the bills to be paid from an Italian bank account?
It is generally advisable to open a bank account in Italy if you own a property there, even if you are not an Italian resident. A current account would be particularly useful to pay utility bills, local service and goods providers, and council taxes.
Although generally more expensive than UK current accounts, Italian bank accounts could help minimize bank charges and/or costs associates with the fluctuation of the exchange rates to which you would be subject to if managing these costs by operating a UK bank account.
I would ensure that you can take advantage of online banking to operate your account. Usually, online banking is cheaper than high street standard bank accounts. The bank’s website will usually list the documentation required to open an account. Normally, you are required to be personally identified by a bank manager or representative and you need to show your passport and your Italian tax code (codice fiscale).
Laura Protti, LEP Law