By  on February 9, 2006

TURIN — The Milky Way, so dubbed because of 400 kilometers (250 miles) of lifts that connect five mountain resorts around Turin — Sestriere, Sauze d'Oulx, Sansicario, Cesana and Claviere — offers something for all cold-weather enthusiasts. In winter, weary workers leave the tumult of the city to hit the slopes, and in warmer months, the pine-dotted woods are an attraction for hikers and nature lovers.

Starting this week, these slopes on the Alps will become home to the world's fastest winter athletes.

Olympics organizers allowed athletes to test-run the slopes a year in advance, which apparently resulted in the modification of one curve on the bobsleigh track. WWD looks at two of the most renowned resort areas.

Cesana-Sansicario
Height: 1,350-2,700 meters (4,430-8,860 feet)

History: This was a natural entryway for pilgrims, armies, merchants and artists on their way to France, the Rodano plains and central Europe.

Slopes: Thirteen lifts that cover 77 km (48 miles) of runs

Hardest slope: The Rio Nero

Olympic races: Alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsled, skeleton, luge

Best Hotels: The Chaberton, which takes its name from the mountain right behind it and was frequented by King Umberto II. The family-run hotel is quaint and cozy with rooms decorated to represent the four seasons.

Hotel Sansicario Majestic is a new four-star hotel that blends a modern edge with alpine tradition.

Typical fare: Fondue, bourguignon, stone-grilled meat and raclette

Sestriere
Height: 2,035 meters (6,675 feet)

History: The area on which Sestriere was built has been the target of invaders since the Roman Empire, including Napoleon. It began to gain a reputation as a ski resort in the early 20th century.

Slopes: More than 120 km (75 miles) of runs

Other attractions: An 18-hole golf course that is the highest in Europe; a natural lake for fishing and an outdoor swimming pool, rafting and kayaking. The first Napapijri Café opened in December and blends arctic inspiration and innovative technology, with plasma screens showing documentaries on explorations around the world. Canadian Adirondack armchairs and wooden tables add a rustic touch to the décor outside the café. The café boasts the world's highest "aqua-bar" and will be the stage for photo exhibitions, book launches and food tastings.Olympic races: Alpine skiing

Best Hotels: The Grand Hotel Principi di Piemonte underwent a structural renovation, but still maintains its fairy tale allure with its architecture reminiscent of northern European castles. The Grand Hotel Sestriere is strategically located in the heart of town, a stone's throw from bars, discos and shops.

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