Sestriere ski resort is located west of Turin (Torino) and is the main resort on the deliciously large Via Lattea (Milky Way) ski pass which links Sestriere's neighbours Oulx (Sauze d'Oulx), Sansicario, Cesana, Claviere and Montgenèvre across the border in France.
Whilst Sestriere sits on a sunny plateau, its mainly north facing slopes enjoy guaranteed quality snow cover thanks to reliable natural snowfall, altitude and one of the world's most extensive snow making operations. Sestriere and its nearby Via Lattea ski resorts hosted the World Alpine Ski Championships in 1997 and the alpine events in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. Despite this honour Sestriere is an area best suited to intermediates on the piste.
Beginners have access to nice base area slopes and some higher trails but it is generally limited. Some great advanced piste is available but it is not extensive. Challenging off-piste terrain is available for the adventurous and fresh snow can lay unsullied alongside piste runs for days.
Sestriere's local ski area offers 52 pistes (as part of the Via Lattea's 212 runs total) and is served by a range of 19 button lifts, chairs and gondolas in two main sectors: Sises directly in front of the Sestriere village; and Motta above the little Borgata village down valley from Sestriere. Motta is higher than Sises, has more skiing options, and is best known for the 2.5km Kandahar Slalom Giovanni Alberto Agnelli run (700m vertical). Letting ti rip down this run is a wonderful eye watering experience. Sises’ equivalent world class run is the Col de Sises black which provides good off-piste action especially after fresh snowfalls. As the Sises area is mainly serviced by drag lifts, snowboarders may not find this area as user friendly as skiers. Beginner runs and the pretty basic snow-park are above the ski school meeting point near the town centre, which is nice and handy if you are starting out. There are also easy blue runs in the Borgata ski area nearby.
You can access all of the Via Lattea ski resorts directly from Sestriere via the Fraiteve gondola using the basic ski pass. From the top of the gondola you can head left to Sansicario and Cesana (then eventually Claviere and then Montgenevre in France) or right into the excellent Oulx (Sauze d'Oulx). A supplement is required to be paid for the ski pass to cover the Montgenevre area in France.