There are plenty of reasons to choose Cortina d'Ampezzo as your ski destination this year, but here are five of the best . . .
1. Cortina "Queen of the Dolomites"
Cortina is located in the Dolomites, a designated UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, and considered one of the most appealing mountain landscapes in the world.
The name "Dolomites" is derived from the famous French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu who, in the second half of the 18th century, was the first to describe the rock, dolomite, a type of carbonate rock which is responsible for the characteristic shapes and colour of these mountains. The unique landscape features pinnacles, needle towers, horizontal ledges and crags. The Ampezzo mountain tops, six of which exceed 3000 metres, look particularly majestic at sunset when they turn a beautiful pinkish colour.
In winter the Dolomites offers an ideal setting for both alpine and Nordic skiing. In summer many people visit the Dolomites to climb the Vie ferrate, protected paths created during the First World War.
2. Luxury on the slopes
The Cristallo Spa & Golf Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel, opened its doors in 1901 and has been a favourite accommodation choice for kings, princes and dukes in the 20th century.
To celebrate its 110th anniversary, the ancient building has been completely revamped in the Nordic neoclassical style of King Gustav II of Sweden. A unique style and a refined charm pervade the 74 rooms (of which 22 suites), all different from each other, while the two presidential suites (named Frank Sinatra and Peter Sellers) are apartments with hammams.
The Ultimate Crystal Spa features an indoor swimming pool overlooking the Tofane Mountains and the Transvital Swiss Beauty Centre and fitness club. The 18-hole golf course winds through the majestic mountain scenery.
3. Delicious cuisine
Cortina's cuisine represents all the flavours from the Veneto and Tyrol regions. The most typical and famous dish of the Ampezzo area is called casunziei, half-moon shaped ravioli filled either with turnips, spinach or local herbs; then try the so-called canederli, rissoles with dough made from chopped bread, smoked ham and spinach, served in a broth or simply topped with melted butter.From Venetian cuisine there are many different polenta dishes.And for the sweet tooth: apple strudel cake, sacher-torte, or berry-jam tart.
Ristorante Tivoli, a Michelin-starred restaurant located at the foot of the Tofane, is considered one of the best in Cortina and famed for its creative take on wild game and mountain dishes. You can also see can a real triumph of seafood on the menu: shrimps, shellfish, lobsters are dispatched every day, at the height of their freshness, from nearby Venezia and Chioggia, famous seaside locations.
The Club House super chic restaurant, opened in summer 2011, is a picturesque mountain chalet in the heart of a golf club (open to non-members).
If you like the idea of dining in the clouds you should try the Averau Refuge - the Sunday Times has classified it among in the 10 best alpine restaurants.
4. People watching
Cortina has always been on the VIP map. Often, it has been chosen by producers and script-writers as a location for their films; in the Dolomites, people such as Ernest Hemingway, who was a regular at the Hotel de la Poste, and Brigitte Bardot, who liked practicing curling, used to spend their holidays there. Goethe, Mario Rigoni Stern and Le Corbusier all fell in love with Cortina.
Today the town is visited by politicians, writers, journalists and business people alike. The ideal thing, in order to enjoy the après-ski at its best, is sipping a glass of Prosecco or a Spritz in one of the most exclusive cafés whilst discretely people watching.
5. Tie the knot in Cortina
If you have been procrastinating over where to get married, consider tying in the knot in Cortina. Sposarsi a Cortina is a network of people who can make your "I do" a unique experience.
Arrive at the venue in a horse-drawn sleigh, spend your honeymoon in a secluded alpine hut at 2223m, and take your vows on a terrace at sunset - "enrosadira" is a particulalry magical time in the Dolomites when the mountaintops turn red and purple. Some even choose to get married on skis and take their vows at the top of the mountain and then newly married couple ski down the mountain followed by their wedding party.
More about Cortina
Located in one of the sunniest valleys in the Alps and seat of the first Winter Olympic games in 1956, Cortina d'Ampezzo is home to an modern ski area featuring 38 lifts, 70 pistes and six ski schools.
Cortina is part of the ski area "Dolomiti superski" with its 1220 kilometres of pistes, 450 lifts and internationally famous trails such as "Olympia delle Tofane". For fans of cross-country skiing, the main centreis the Fiames Sport Nordic Center, and Cortina is one of the 12 districts of the Dolomites' Nordicski area. The resort also offers curling, snowkiting and extreme skiing.
More about skiing in Cortina