Homeland Montespluga Madesimo
A project by ASSO Orobica ASD & Spiagames Outdoor Agency
ASSO Orobica ASD — Via Borgo Palazzo, 272, 24126 Bergamo (BG) Italy — P.IVA 02740310160

Snow Brains on Homeland

Europe's first ski resort without lifts has just opened and it costs nothing to access

Snow Brains on Homeland
In northern Italy sits the beautiful alpine village of Montespluga, the last settlement before the Switzerland border. This is where one of Europe’s newest ski resorts, Homeland, opened earlier this year.

Homeland is unique in several ways. Primarily, it is Europe’s first lift-free ski resort. Guests can ascend the slopes under their own power on 11 marked uphill routes before accessing 9,000 acres of off-piste terrain. If that wasn’t unique enough, access to the area costs nothing.
The idea for the resort came from founders Tommaso Luzzana and Paolo Pichielo, who also own an event agency in Milan, just two and a half hours away. Both are passionate skiers, and they started formulating the idea for Homeland during the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were trying to social distance. The final straw came when they read an article about Bluebird Backcountry, a touring-only resort in Colorado that, unfortunately, is now out of business.

Another motivator for the new model ski resort is the current state of the Italian ski industry. Over the years, due to climate change, resorts have been closing permanently, leaving almost 400 ski lifts abandoned. Other resorts rely heavily on artificial snow-making to operate. However, the energy required for snow-making only contributes to the crisis it was designed to solve. The founders believe ski touring is a more sustainable option going forward.

And you can’t beat the cost. As previously mentioned, access to the area is free, and for those without their own gear, it can be rented on-site. Skis, boots, and skins can be rented for about $58 (€55), and you can rent a full avalanche kit for only around $68 (€65). For $105 (€100), you can take a safety course and introduction to ski touring day from a professional mountain guide. Additionally, an old hotel in the village, the Albergo della Posta, will now stay open for the winter to cater to guests.

The location of Homeland, with its excellent terrain and enviable snowfall, makes it the perfect place for such an operation. However, you have to wonder about the long-term viability of the operation, especially if they continue to offer the resort at no cost to guests. Bluebird Backcountry was the first in the world to open a lift-free ski area but only operated for three years due to diminished funding and low visitation. Will Homeland thrive and start a global trend of lift-free resorts, or is this model not viable in the industry? Time will tell.

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