The most talked about ski resort in Italy, loved by the international jet set, Cortina is the pearl of the Dolomites, to go there is a party game; to live there is a privilege.
Set in a hollow and surrounded by the suggestive scenery of the harsh peaks of the “Pallid Mountains” as the man who discovered these peaks, Dolomieu, this Bellunese town situated at 1224 metres of altitude has an incredible charm which enchants both those who come to admire the panorama and those who come in search of sports, worldly or cultural events. The streets, the houses and its high class shops are, in fact, the destination for refined and demanding tourists and personalities from the world of politics, culture, show business, sport and fashion.
The small village in the area of Belluno has moved from agriculture to elite holidays in the space of forty years but without building any high rise blocks. This metamorphosis began with the Olympics of 1956, since then Cortina has offered sports facilities at a very high standard.
As well as ski-mountaineering and long-distance skiing, those searching for something more adventurous can try a ski trampoline or a bob-track. There’s also an Olympic ice rink.
Frequented in the summer too, in the hotter months of the year Cortina offers numerous sports opportunities. It becomes a meeting point for lovers of trekking and mountain excursions.
What to See:
Not to be missed, especially in the summer months, is a trip to the Parco naturale delle Dolomiti. The park covers an area of 11 thousand hectares north of Cortina and is one of the four regional parks of Veneto. It joins onto the Parco di Fanes-Sennes-Braies with which it forms a protected area of about 37.000 hectares. There are also trips to Tondi di Faloria (m. 2327), with the Faloria cablecar; to Tofane, on the chair-lift, with stops at the rifugio Pomédes and the rifugio Duca d’Aosta (m. 2098); to Cristallo, the mountain first climbed by a woman in 1874.
Even the less expert can go up with the chair-lift from Forcella Staunìes (m. 2993).
If you feel like getting into the car and driving round 60 km of bends you can go to visit San Vigilio di Marebbe. A little town, in the Plan de Corones, north of Cortina, where the Ladin origins are still perfectly preserved and you can project yourself into the history of the mountain people. The road is pretty bad, but it’s worth it.
La Casa delle Regole (piazza Venezia right in the centre) houses important collections: one of modern art, in the “Mario Rimoldi” art gallery, there are about 360 masterpieces among which works by De Pisis, Guttuso, Morandi and De Chirico stand out , and a paleontological collection in the Museum de la Regoles, with thousands of fossils and delicate corals dating back to 240 million years ago and found in the Dolomitic rock.
The XVIII century parish Church of Saints Philip and James, a synthesis of Italian Baroque and Tyrolese rococo should be seen.
Take advantage of a holiday in Cortina to furnish your house with some traditional objects from the area, a pendulum clock in fir-wood, a tablecloth in indigo coloured linen or a Tyrolese garment to put in your wardrobe, like a costume in wool muslin. A good souvenir to bring home and warm up the cold city evenings is grappa. Bottles of every type, for connoisseurs or not, natural or with fruit are available. Even the smoked speck is worth tasting, with dry “puccia”, the typical local bread. Special rice and pear strudels and irresistible almond tarts can be found in the famous and popular Cortina patisserie, Lovat (Corso Italia 65) where all the Vips meet in the afternoon.
Of the manifestations worth noting is the Sagra d'Ampezzo and summer Palio of the town quarters (first Sunday in July); the numerous Literary Meetings (in August) are attended by the best known names from politics and foreign and Italian literature; In the winter Festa dei Sestieri (last Sunday Of Carnival).