Cortina d’Ampezzo, situated in the Northern Italian Dolomite mountains, is an exclusive and popular resort, providing superb views of the surrounding mountain range and a highly reliable snow record. Indeed, its name alone has a certain cachet, bringing to mind images of the halcyon days of the 1960s and ‘70s.
The skiing and snowboarding terrain at Cortina is split into six interlinked areas, each of which has excellent, modern lift facilities:
- Cinque Torri
Cortina is mostly suited to intermediate-ability skiers and snowboarders; around two thirds of the terrain is suited to intermediates and almost another third to beginners. There is, however, still to be found some excellent terrain for advanced skiers and snowboarders. You are guaranteed to encounter long, linking, groomed trails, wide-open powder bowls and plenty of easy, Beginners’ areas.
Cortina is included in the world famous interconnected Dolomiti Superski Pass, covering over 1,200 kilometres of skiing and snowboarding terrain in the area.
Advanced skiers and snowboarders can make for the powder-filled cliffs and chutes of the Olimpia trail, which hosts a World Cup Downhill competition every year. The trail is very steep, fast, and tests fast turning ability in deep, powder snow. If it is breakneck GS turns that you are looking for, head for the Cristallo Area, on the steep Canalone Staunies trail.
Extreme skiing and snowboarding tours are available in Cortina, here professional guides will take snowriders to the best off-piste powder spots in the surrounding Dolomite mountain range. Local knowledge here is key. A word of warning: It is not wise to venture too far off-piste, by yourself; as there are some large cliff drops and crevasses in the area. Safety courses and equipment should be brought or hired if you are going to do this, and remember never to go off piste on your own where there are avalanche warnings.
Intermediate Skiing and Snowboarding at Cortina
Intermediate skiers and snowboarders really are spoilt for choice at Cortina. All six areas have long, linking groomed trails.
In the Falzarego-Lagazuoi area, the breathtaking nine kilometre groomed Armentarola trail winds its way down around the mountain, from the top of the Lagazuoi Cable Car. From the centre of Cortina Village, take the Faloria Cable Car for lots more long, wide, fast, groomed cruising trails, leading back down into the village.
Beginner Skiing and Snowboarding at Cortina
Beginner skiers and snowboarders learn on the wide gently sloping runs rising up from Cortina Village, graduating to some of the steeper, longer trails on the upper mountain areas.
Cortina has four Ski and Snowboard Schools and all of the will offer you a bilingual instructor. All these companies offer group, day-long and private lessons to all ages and at all ability levels. There is also a mountain guide company in Cortina, offering off-piste guided skiing and snowboarding tours.
Cortina Terrain Park and Halfpipe
The Cortina Terrain Park, in Faloria, has been added in recent years. Here you can jump on boxes, slide over rails, and hit some kickers. There is a good spread in the sizes of the jumps, and to cap it all off there is a competition-sized halfpipe which is in very good shape.
Other Activities at Cortina
Activities also worth checking out in and around Cortina are:
- tobogganing on the long pistes in the Mietres Area, which is always a hit for all ages
- snow rafting, using inflatables to bound down the slope
- snow shoeing, take a hike and get some spectacular views (some of which are not accessible to skiers)
- cross country skiing in the valley.
Off the slopes, you can go swimming in the public pool in the town. There is also a cinema, but the films tend to be in Italian. Or you could go explore the local museums or, get a beauty or massage treatment. Many of the local hotels have luxury spas attached to them. Our favourite was the Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf course.
The Corso Italia, the pedestrian-only main street in Cortina village is lined with shops stocking the latest ski and snowboard equipment and rental gear. There are also plenty of designer fashion boutiques, jewellery stores, antique stores, art and photography galleries, general, gift, and souvenir stores. Cortina has a wide range of well-stocked grocery markets, delicatessens, butchers, and wine stores.
Restaurants in Cortina
Cortina has numerous restaurants, catering for all tastes. Pizzerias and Italian trattorias tend to only serve traditional Italian cuisine. Watch your portion size as these places make enormous bowls of pasta or pizzas that will be falling off the plate. For coffee & breakfast, if you don’t get that at your hotel, you will be able to find plenty of small cafés offering everything from a espresso to a croissant. Our tip for Italian cafés is to order and drink it at the counter, sitting down will double the price ! Here are some highlights from Cortina
- Pizzeria al Passotto: Try their wood fired pizzas or their delicious homemade pasta, our favourite was the a’matriciana, which was to die for.
- Leone & Anna Restaurant: is well worth a trip. They are known for a more traditional menu. They serve Sardinian cuisine, with an emphasis on fish.
- To go up market , or to celebrate visit the Hotel Cortina. They offer four-course Italian and international menus, which can be polished off with some of their wine from their expansive cellars.
- Rio Gere Restaurant: family-owned and run. Uses local produce rustic Italian meals and interesting desserts, especially the ones with icecream.
The main street in Cortina village boasts many wine bars, which become very busy in the evening, around dinner time. After dinner, the trendy VIP Club in the Hotel Europa is renowned for its cocktails. The bar turns into a disco after midnight and remains open until the early hours of the morning. The Belvedere Club hosts top DJs throughout the season and, The Monkey Club in the Hotel Cristallo, has frequent theme nights, jazz nights and comedy nights.
|This article was created by Mark Potts a freelance writer based in Cheshire, England. He’s a e-learning consultant by day, and by night he is an avid music fan. More of his writing can be found at http://www.godofthunder.co.uk/.|