Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Best For: Aesthetically minded skiers who appreciate fine wine

Executive summary by darmansjah

With the dramatic peaks of the Dolomites rising like ruddy cathedrals in every direction, the ski areas around Cortina have been called the most beautiful in the world. Many of the bejeweled visitors here seem to be vying for the same title. The most upscale resort in Italy, Cortina’s car-free Corso Italia is packed with furriers, designer boutiques, and Italians with sunglasses that cost more than most skis. It’s a slice of classic Italy and loads of fun if you want to sample la dolce vita.

The good news is that most people here are more interested in socializing than actually skiing and snowboarding, so the slopes aren’t crowded—at least by European standards. It’s also possible to stay and eat here inexpensively, as long as you steer clear of establishments that require second mortgages to afford. Though mind-meltingly scenic, the skiing itself is inconveniently spread out, making taxi services or a car useful if you want to maximize the area’s potential. There is a free shuttle bus that connects the ski areas with continuous service during the operating hours of the lifts. Beginners and intermediates will have the most fun on the many gorgeous, groomed runs (Socrepes and Mietres are dedicated to children and beginners). If you don’t mind the bus or taxi rides, Dolomiti Superski tickets give access to a network of resorts that reach far beyond Cortina and offer more terrain for advanced skiers.

Ask a Local 

Ski instructor and guide Paolo D’Amico was born and raised in Cortina d’Ampezzo and personally guided Sylvester Stallone when he visited to film Cliffhanger. Here are his recommendations.

Best Digs 

Budget: Hotel Montana is cheap, in the center of town, and next to the church steeple so you can “hear the bells singing.”

Swank: Hotel de la Poste is where you can really experience the Italian atmosphere.

Best Eats 

Cheap: Twenty Euro will get you a meal at Birreria Vienna, Pizzeria-Restorante—about as cheap as it gets in Cortina.

Gourmet: You can see the entire valley from the terrace of Il Meloncino al Camineto.

Best After-Ski Party Spot 

Ernest Hemingway’s favorite was the Enoteca Cortina wine bar, where he once got so drunk with an instructor at midday that he was unable to get back in his skis after the break.

Best Rest-Day Activity 
Go Italian—spend the day shopping and eating.

Cortina’s Classic Run 

The Canalone Staunies is only open in warm weather when the snow conditions are good. It’s so steep and prone to ice that several people have died skiing there. Of course, it’s a major draw because of its beauty and challenge. Many people come to Cortina just to ski this high, steep slope cupped between dozens of thorny Dolomite peaks.

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