Cortina d’Ampezzo

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One of if not the most popular of Italy’s ski towns is located in a great setting against the backdrop of the craggy peaks of the Dolomites. Old world charm with a modern lift system the terrain has something to offer skiers & boarders of all abilities.

One of Italy’s premier ski resorts Cortina D’Ampezzo is situated just 2 hours north of Venice.

Which results in Cortina being a popular weekend destination. As a result on week-ends and holidays the town becomes crowded with Italian glitterati. Outside peak times its a charming and friendly, if a slightly dull old-style mountain village turned ski resort.

Cortina is set in some of the most stunning mountain scenery the skiing world has to offer.

The town is surround by dramatic limestone peaks and cliffs, glowing pink at dawn and dusk. At the towns heart is the cobbled car free main street, the Corso Italia. Which seems to be a bigger attraction than the ski resort with most Italians, who like to strut there stuff while browsing the chic boutique shops.  It now attracts more than a few Russians. The soaring, floodlit church campanile at the heart of the Corso adds to the atmosphere.

Cortina is mainly a ski-ers resort, the glitterati mainly ski

So you won’t find many snowboarders on the mountain. But what you will find is a generally uncrowded ski area. Mainly because those with designer clothes, sports cars and fur coats mostly like to be seen skiing rather than actually doing it. While we where there one local commented that as much as 75% of Italians that visit Cortina don’t make it to the slopes. Cortina hosted of the 1956 Olympic, annually (normally around the end of January) it hosts a round of the Womans Ski World Cup, the Cortina Classic.

Skiing and boarding plays second fiddle to the sport of posing around the chic shops and cafes of the Corso Italia, the pedestrianized main street

Due to the Cortina’s appeal with the wealthy the food option which is mostly traditional Italian fare is generally way over priced. The best and more affordable food and drinking options are food away from the resort centre. The apres ski is more apres posing and for most its pretty boring.

The slopes in Cortina are well maintained, smooth and easy to follow. There are some very steep sections and overall very few flat sections. Beginners can progress on good easy slopes. With the mid-section of the Tofana area being ideal and can be reached by chair lifts, avoiding the dreaded drags.

Cortina’s old lift system means more time spent sitting than skiing or snowbaording

Perhaps the reason Cortina hasn’t ever caught up with its contemporary resorts is that its mountain lacks the same punch that the likes of Chamonix has. However, it does have some fantastic pluses. Firstly, the beginner area is absolutely perfect, being far from the main area ensures no-one comes charging through. Secondly the views are staggering, with – magnificent granite towers at every turn. It does, however, have older style cable cars, often cruising 1000 ft over the cliffs and undoubtedly putting people off.

And although part of the enormous Dolomiti Superskipass, the ski areas are far from joined up. It makes our guide for two reasons: we think you’ll enjoy its quiet beginner area, and because it has a certain unchanged charm and seems to be stuck in another era. However, for freestyle skiers and riders, nearby Alleghe (included on the Superski pass) has an all-mountain funpark. Well worth checking out.

Accessible by public bus to the west is the Alta Badia and Corvara on the Sella Ronda circuit. Which is included on the Superski Pass.

 

Cortina d’Ampezzo has 140 Km or 88 miles of slopes

6 Cable cars

31 Chair & 10 Drag Lifts

1 Park & 1 Pipe

Beginners

Beginners should head straight to the top of the Olympia chairlift, where the best blue run area in the Alps lies. There are so many lovely runs through the gentle forest, most of them totally uncrowded, that you should have no problems exploring the area for a whole week.

45 Easy Runs

55% Blues

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Intermediate

Head up the incredible Faloria cable car, then straight to the top of the Vitelli chairlift (it’ll go over the Faloria funpark). From the top, keep working your way skiers right until you reach the Rio Gere restaurant and car park. There’s a secret green run that heads back to Cortina and will take you through gardens and over roads. It’s a fun circuit for the adventurous.
25 Intermediate Runs

30% Reds

This place is definitely hiding some serious secret spots. No one goes off-piste here because they seem to prefer the death deafeningly steep pistes.

Advanced

Head to the top of the Pomedes: the run down the front face back to the start of the chair is possibly the steepest piste in the world. If that doesn’t scare you, just have a ride on the Col Druscie cable car next, but don’t look down. Need more? Head to Alleghe nearby for their new all mountain park.

12 Expert Black Runs

15% Blacks

Freeriding

The most challenging runs are found down from the Tofana, which rises to 3243m and is reached by cable car. From the summit you’ll find plenty of stuff to check out, as Cortina offers some good powder riding. The terrain is varied, with steep pitches and nice rollers to jump off, but not many natural kickers.

At the lower elevations Tree runs aplenty , and there are some good gullies to play in. Hire a guide if you want to ski or board off-piste here, as the Dolomites are scraggy and craggy, the cliffs are big and are not signposted. Rugged doesnt begin to describe these mountains. That said,the off piste provides a aot of fun ans much is accessible from the lifts.

Freestylers

Freestylers may not get manmade hits, but not to worry as there are plenty of natural ones with some cool drop-offs and big banks to catch air from, on both mountain sections. The Tofana area has the best stuff, though.

Cortina is not the resort to go to if you are looking for some freestyle action  the park is small with a small, shallow pipe, one tabletop kicker and three rails. A good beginner park, but there’s not much else going for the place freestyle-wise.

Download large Cortina Piste Map

Cortina Piste Map
Download large Cortina Piste Map

Mountain Stats

Top Lift 2950 m
Vertical Drop 1730 m
Bottom Lift 1220 m

Essential Info (updated 2016/17)

Opening Late November (26 November 2016)
Closing Mid April (1 May 2017)
1 Day Pass € 52
7 Day Pass € 280
Season Pass € 715
Tourist Office cortina.dolomiti.org
Website dolomitisuperski.com/cortina

Getting There

Turin (TRN) Airport is the resorts nearest at 150 Km or 94 miles away.

The Town

Cortina was clearly built in the same Victorian boom-time that gave us Chamonix and a million other spa towns. Architecturally it is impressive. But although there is a clear wealthy undercurrent to the town, there seems to be a strange lack of youthful vibrancy around. Which results in a division between the rich, older hotels, and some derelict buildings. That said, the ice rink is a marvel to look at, and the main church tower dominates the town.

Sleeping

The Montana has rooms from €30 upwards. The hotel Impero has rooms for around €40 per person. The Hotel de La Poste is the classic old school place from €100 upwards.

 

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Eating

There’s a huge panini selection at the Lago da PosteCroda Cafe is fast and busy, with real Italian food, while Villa Argentina in the beginner area has great old world on the slopes charm.

Apres Ski & Nightlife

Enoteca or the Villa Sandi are good from 1700 onwards, then try the VIP Club after 2300.

Pro’s & Con’s

Pro’s Con’s
Varied terrain and chance to relive what it was like to be a snowboarder 20 years ago. Terrible traffic means accidents are inevitable.
Proximity to airport and the chance to visit Venice. Not a great amount of youth culture, It’s a very old town.
Fantastic beginner area. Anti-fur campaigners should definitely stay away!

A glimpse of what ski resort were like 20 years ago: very few snowboarders, older cable cars, some incredibly challenging terrain, and beautiful architecture from a different era.

Shopping

Kangaru just before the railway bridge, now a pedestrian walkway, has standard resort supermarket wares. There’s also a General Store next to the Hotel Royal on the Corso ltalia (the main street).

Health & Wellbeing

The Corte Spa, 10 minutes from Cortina, is world class.

Internet Access

The Multimedia Centre (next to the Hotel Alaska) has computers to use. For wireless, head to the hotel Impero and buy a beer.

Transfer Options

Cortina operates a free transfer system to Venice for some hotels, with reduced rates for others; dolomitisuperski.com has details but beware it’s a complicated system.

Local Partners

The Dolomiti Superskipass encompasses an exhausting number of local partners.

Children

Free Skipass for any child (born after the 30.11.2005) for the same period on purchase of a skipass by an adult relative. This offer refers to “a parent for each child”. – except, 12 days in the season and seasonal passes debit card. To obtain a free skipass is necessary to ask in person and present proof of identity.

Bad Weather Days

The runs from the Pomedes down through the forest to the Olympia chairlift are perfectly lined.

Avoid

The home run down from the Col Druscie can get busy after 1500, especially the bridge at the end.

An Interesting Little Fact

The Pink Panther (1963) starring Peter Sellers and David Niven was filmed in and around Cortina. Watch the film and see how little the decor has changed since! The famous chase scene on skis in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only took place here in 1981, and the Hollywood blockbuster starring Sylvester Stallone,  Cliffhanger was filmed on the mountains here in 1993.

Don’t Miss

A trip to the Chinque Torn, beautiful granite peaks a bus ride out of town.

Local Tips

Do Don’t
Head out after 2300. The town only kicks off after midnight. Pose for photos, you could end up on the Cortina website in their ‘Beauties’ section!
Wear an incredible amount of fur. Seriously. Expect to get a table after 2000 with ease. Later than 1930 and you might go hungry.
Often look like Donatella Versace! Ski or ride off-piste too much. It’s all yours.
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Jen is a correspondent for Outside, Ski and Snowboarding magazines and a frequent contributor to the New York Times travel section. Her work has been featured in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and other anthologies. She has reported from seven continents, loves languages, and is based in British Columbia, Canada.

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