I’m thrilled as I accelerate the snowmobile up the mountainside in the dark. I’ve never been on a snowmobile before and I feel like I’m in a James Bond movie. I’m on a press trip in Madesimo, a friendly little Italian ski resort in Lombardy near the Swiss border.
In the garage area before we start Marco, our guide, shows us how to work the simple controls: squeeze the right handlebar to accelerate, the left to brake. He tells us that when we go around a bend we have to lean into it as if we’re riding a motorbike. It looks easy and I can’t wait to get going. As we move outside onto the Alpine snow the crisp air bites at my face, the only part of my skin showing between the layers of padded clothes and the helmet I’m wearing. We’ve already been skiing and ice-driving today and I’m pretty tired but I feel alert and ready for this evening challenge.
We’re driving 500cc Yamaha snowmobiles provided by Extreme Team Madesimo. Marco tells us that Extreme Team Madesimo is the largest snowmobile dealer in Europe and offers around 70 km of signposted snowmobile trails to explore in the mountains around the resort.
We whizz up and down the winding mountain tracks for about an hour and it’s exhilarating. It feels to me like we’re going quite fast but our top speed on this excursion is only 30 kilometres an hour. Apparently, the snowmobiles we’re driving can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour. (Obviously that’s never going to happen with me driving. I’m slow and steady behind the wheel and my children are always telling me to speed up). At one point we stop and look down at Madesimo twinkling prettily with lights in the valley below. Without the sound of the snowmobiles the silence of the mountains makes me feel small.
Driving the snowmobile is pure fun and I love it but it’s much tougher on the arms than I’d expected. If I went again I’d like to share a snowmobile with someone and take it in turns to drive to give my arm muscles a rest. Although it feels very adventurous snowmobiling in the dark I’d prefer to go in day light in order to appreciate the beautiful views.
If you have a driving licence you can hire one of these snowmobiles. Children can sit behind the driver and I think this would be great fun to do as a family.
Family travel lowdown: Snowmobile hire from Extreme Team Madesimo costs from 85 euros. They provide tours for all levels of experience led by qualified instructors. Momentum Ski offer tailor-made packages to Madesimo with prices starting from £719 per person for a family of four including 4* half-board hotel accommodation, scheduled return flights from London to Milan and private transfers. I was a guest of the Madesimo tourist board on a press trip.