Italy's most famous and stylish resort, often ranked along side St Moritz (you can play polo on snow at both), Cortina d'Ampezzo is certainly one of the world's best known ski centres. The resort, beloved by James Bond Roger Moore and earlier Ernest Hemmingway was host to the 1956 Winter Olympics.
Located in the wide sunny Ampezzo valley, Cortina is surrounded by the spectacular back drop of the Dolomites, with their famous vertical sides and pink rock used to great effect in the recent hit movie 'Cliffhanger' (no, that wasn't Colorado...) Despite being only 40km (25 miles) from the southern Austrian border, Cortina differs from most of the other resorts in the Dolomites in that there is no strong Germanic influence, common in the South Tyrol. Instead the resort is very Italian and very chic, beloved by the great and the good of Milan, Rome and Venice, many of whom have second homes here.
Cortina's long history as a world class ski resort, dating from the sport's earliest days is reflected by the variety of long-standing annual international competions staged here, including the Women's Ski world Cup every January, international bobsleigh competitions, the famous Dobbiaco - Cortina 42km International Cross-Country ski race, the Winter Polo Cup and a range of ice hockey, figure skating and curling events.
Cortina's skiing is more varied than at many resorts in the Dolomites where the mountains' famous precipices and otherwise steep sides going straight down to relatively flat and narrow valley floors make it difficult to create much beyond easy slopes in the valley and the occasional steep black down from on high.
Cortina has three major ski areas: Tofana, Cristallo and Faloria, and is on the famous Dolomiti Superski pass which gives unlimited access to around 1200km of trails from ski centres all over the Dolomites.
Beginners normally start to ski or 'board on the Socrepes area's nursery slopes, where the ski school is based. With more than half of the runs categorised as 'easy' it's a good place to progress during your first week of sliding.
Intermediate level skiers will perhaps have the most fun of all, with the widest choice of runs open to them in all areas, including the 9km long descent towards Armentarola on the Alta Badia circuit from Lagazuoi reached by the Passo Falzarego cable car the base of which is a short drive from the resort.
Some of Cortina's toughest skiing is on the Tofana mountain where the legendary descents include the Stratofana, inaugurated for the 1956 Olympics, on which skiing great Tony Sailer won his third gold medal. The Forcella Rossa is equally highly thought of, as is the Staunies run in the Cristallo area.
Although many of the slopes are sunny and south facing, snow making covers 100km of 30 key trails.