Cortina d’Ampezzo – Italy’s Most Fashionable Ski Resort:
As the host to the 1956 Winter Olympics, Cortina d’Ampezzo is Italy’s most famous ski resort. This charming alpine town, located in the heart of the Dolomites, is also a fashionable resort that attracts just as many visitors during the summer months, as we found out during our September visit.
The road to Cortina d’Ampezzo gives you a preview of what you expect in this town. Cortina d’Ampezzo is surrounded by the Dolomites and on the drive to Cortina we saw dramatic mountain scenery, the occasional beautiful hill-top church, typical ski chalets, snow-capped peaks and the many jagged faces of the Dolomites. Movie fans may recognize Cortina from the Pink Panther and Roger Moore being chased on skis in For Your eyes Only.
Cortina’s Swanky Shops
We arrived in Cortina d’Ampezzo in mid-September and even without the snow, Cortina d’Ampezzo has the look and feel of a ski resort, with the towering church bell tower adding to the atmosphere. Our accommodation, the Hotel Ancora is smack in the middle of town, on the pedestrian-only Corso Italia. If you need evidence that Cortina d’Ampezzo is a swanky ski resort, take a look at some of the designer boutiques, jewellers and watchmakers, art galleries and antique shops that line Corso Italia. But Cortina d’Ampezzo is not just for the well-heeled. La Cooperativa on Corso Italia has six floors of shops covering everything from food, clothing and typical products from the region.
“Slow-Snow” in the Dolomites
In Cortina d’Ampezzo, you can be as active as you like or just laze around and enjoy leisurely strolls, long lunches and people-watching. As a venue for the 1956 Winter Olympics, the town is well-equipped with sporting facilities but what’s in vogue in Cortina and the Dolomites is “slow-snow”. Similar in concept to the slow-food movement, people can come to Cortina to enjoy skiing as well as some of the other attractions that Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites have to offer, and not just the high-speed of alpine skiing. It seems that “slow-snow” is the way that Italians like enjoying their winter breaks. They have a balanced approach to their ski holidays and in fact the majority of Italian visitors don’t go near the slopes except to drive up to a mountain restaurant for lunch and to take in the stunning mountain scenery and wintry atmosphere.
Summer in Cortina d’Ampezzo
Cortina d’Ampezzo is a convenient base for people wanting to trek around the Dolomites, do mountain bike-riding, cycling or rock climbing and we saw many cyclists stopping in town for a break. If you are planning a few days here, the Tourist Office can suggest activities around Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites, including cable car rides up the various mountains.
For our brief stay, we were happy to just do what’s in vogue – we strolled around town, visited the Parish Church, spent a day up in the Dolomites and enjoyed people-watching from the outdoor cafes in town.
Where to Stay
The Hotel Ancora was ideal for us as it is in the centre of Cortina d’Ampezzo and although it is only 300 metres from the Faloria ski lifts, we did not come here to ski. There are many other central hotels such as the Concordia Parc Hotel, the Hotel Cortina and the Hotel de la Poste. If you’re mainly coming to Cortina to ski, there are hotels that are closer to the ski lifts to the northern and southern ends of town. See all Cortina hotels Here.
How to Get Here
There is no train station in Cortina d’Ampezzo but during the peak ski season there are direct bus services to this ski resort from a number of Italian cities. For more on how to get to Cortina d’Ampezzo, see Here.