FROM Plateau Rosa, one of the two frontier high-points of Cervinia's skiing, it is 1400m down to the village. The whole descent can be made on blue runs totalling over 9km, giving an average gradient that the most timid of intermediate skiers can cope with; a competent skier can make the descent without putting in any braking turns. Even the more direct and difficult route down, the famous Ventina, takes about 8km and scarcely justifies its red grading. For a low-speed simulation of downhill racing, there is nowhere like it.

PLUS POINTS: high but south-facing slopes - snow-sure and sunny. Good high nursery slopes at Plan Maison; engaging nightlife; big ski area linked to Zermatt; grand scenery (though no match for Zermatt).

MINUS POINTS: ugly and car-strangled village; inadequate lifts with inconvenient village stations; mediocre sports facili-

ties; expensive village restaurants; inadequate, insanitary and expensive mountain restaurants.