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Each year about this time, when the first snow flurries fly and the proprietors of publicity-conscious resorts start trying to get their pictures taken doing a slalom on pine boughs, we like to present you with a resort or a ski way of life you may not have heard of. We want the place we choose to be in part a discovery, relatively inexpensive, technically sound underfoot—or underski—and rather relaxed, since the everyman jet set will not quite have zoomed in yet. With these principles in mind, we have searched out in the past the ski pleasures of such countries as France, Austria and Chile, as well as the many hideaways of mountain America.

Now, beginning on page 58, we present you with a look at the action on the slopes of northern Italy, an area that will receive much attention late this winter when the world Alpine championships are held at Val Gardena. As the pictures and story show, Italian skiing meets all of our specifications, assuming you can get down a mountain while carrying a full load of linguini with white clam sauce.

If Italian skiing is zesty, so is the scenery at its resorts, and in this regard SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is now directly responsible for adding a dash of color. Some months ago, with the Italian ski story in mind, Staff Writer Jule Campbell wired the eminent Italian designer Emilio Pucci in Florence (where he is a marchese, politician, member of parliament, hereditary chief of the Florentine army, much-decorated war hero, skier, sportsman, and lives in a palace) and arranged a meeting. The idea she presented to him was simple enough. Would he create a new ski collection exclusively for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED? Pucci would.

"There is just one thing," said Jule, who knows the difference between a silk shift and a stem Christy. "The clothes must work. We know they'll be fancy, but they must be functional as well—the sort of thing that people can really ski in."

The marchese understood, being a skiing man himself. After all, hadn't he formed the first ski team at Reed College in Portland, Ore.—one of his many schools—and been one of the first to ski in a crash helmet and to bind up his pant legs so they wouldn't flap in the wind? He said we need not worry, the new SI line wouldn't be just for standing around, posing.

The payoff came this spring in Rome when Jule Campbell showed up at Pucci's workroom. The old ski racer had produced an ultramodern look with the emphasis on stretch wool gabardine for action. "I don't make the pants too tight-fitting for girls," he said. "They're too distracting." But just so there would be some distraction, he added silk and velvet for touches of luxury. The whole effect is strictly for real skiers: Italian in mood and pure Pucci in flavor. We salute you, Emilio. And you, too, Jule.