Cortina d’Ampezzo, often known as the Queen of the Dolomites and the Mecca of Italian celebrities, is the country’s top ski resort. It is a prominent winter sport destination noted for its skiing slopes, scenery, hotels, stores, and après-ski scene, as well as its jet set and aristocratic European audience, located on the Boite river in an alpine valley.
There is some of the most breathtaking scenery in the ski world, as well as superb atmosphere in a typically Italian setting, with shops, cafés, restaurants, and hotels to match the finest. Cortina is also a very beautiful town with a plethora of non-skiing activities. This is a totally different form of resort from the majority of the Dolomites, which have been significantly affected by their previous owners, the Austrians/Hungarians. Cortina is the epitome of Italian elegance. Many Italians do not even go to ski there. It’s a place to march, shop, and, most importantly, eat. Lunch is a significant occasion here, and the slopes are deserted after 2 p.m. Many of the Mountain eateries are accessible by road, so the fur coat crowd arrives early and spends the day sunning and scrolling through their phones.
The Ampezzo region is a “dream come true” for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels, with 120 kilometers of slopes spread over various mountains. The region is showered in sunlight all year thanks to its scenic position in the Italian southern Alps, with blue skies eight days out of ten. And, just in case the white stuff is scarce, 95 percent of the routes may be artificially created if necessary. As a consequence, ideal circumstances are almost ensured.
The ski areas in the Ampezzo region include Faloria – Cristallo – Mietres, Tofana, and Lagazuoi – 5 Torri. Faloria – Cristallo – Mietres has a total of 24 runs, five of which are black-rated, eleven of which are red, and eight of which are blue. The Forcella Staunies chairlift transports skiers to a reasonable height of 2,930 meters and rewards tourists with breathtaking views of the Ampezzo valley. Mietres’ gentle slopes are a perfect playground for families with children.
Most routes at Tofana are graded blue or green (quite easy), although the Tofana Express chairlift connects to more difficult runs, such as the famed Canalone. On the Olympia ski trip, you may walk in the footsteps of the Olympians from 1956. Expert skiers will be hard pressed to find a black-marked run at Lagazuoi, since all of the slopes are relatively simple blue or red-marked affairs. As a consequence, this region is best suited for those who want to perfect their skiing in quiet or who appreciate the benefits of relaxed carving.
The Cortina terrain park has everything a freestyler needs to have a good day. The park is 500 meters long and has a 4-person chairlift as well as two distinct zones: The simple line is intended for children and unskilled freestyle skiers, and it has four jumps, a box, and a ground rail. If you already have some experience, try the medium line, which includes a super box kink, a T-box, a pipe, a bonk-wall, and a tree bonk.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is also a part of Dolomiti Superski, the world’s biggest ski area. This region includes twelve Italian ski slopes with a total of 1,220 kilometers of lines and 450 lifts.
Cortina’s reputation for everything else first, and skiing second, may have as much to do with relaxed Italian attitudes toward skiing as it does with the quality of what’s on offer: when they go on vacation, Italians want good food, plenty of socializing, sunbathing, and of course, some great skiing. For ski-obsessed northern Europeans, this means that the slopes are essentially vacant in the early morning, lunchtime, and late afternoon for much of the season.
There’s little doubt you’re in Italy when you’re in Cortina’s pedestrian town center. The fur on the walking visitors outnumbers the fur on the local fauna, and cafés and wine bars, rather than boisterous après-ski pubs, perform well. Wherever you go, you’ll find excellence, and although there are plenty of places to spend your money, there’s also terrific value here.
Cortina d’Ampezzo info card
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Cortina Skiing and Snowboarding Terrain
Cortina’s ski and snowboard terrain is full of stark contrasts. It is essentially divided into three big ski regions and numerous lesser ones, and it wears many various masks. The three main areas are Tofana (access at the bottom of town – huge and brooding with some classic lines and tree skiing, plus great beginner terrain above Socrepes), Faloria (access via the center of town – less vertical, but great north facing piste terrain and still visually stunning), and Falzarego/Cinque Torri (access via the centre of town – less vertical, but great north facing piste terrain and still visually stunning) (a bit of everything, just go looking). Buses connect all of them.
Cortina, unlike several other Dolomites ski resorts, has not invested in many new lifts in recent years, but as the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t repair it. Slower lift rides let you to take in the breathtaking scenery.
While there are many’must-do’ activities in Cortina, one of the greatest is the Armentarola route, which runs from the summit of the Lagazuoi (2800m) down into Alta Badia near San Cassiano (1550m). Ski over massive icy waterfalls before being dragged by horses for the last few kilometers.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Beginner Skiing
Socrepes in Cortina provides good beginning runs. Furthermore, the gorgeous mountains, great refuges, and elegant town make up for perspiration and bruises.
Socrepes has good beginning runs at a moderate height and enough of them, as well as superb slopes to develop to. Whether first-timers will enjoy taking a bus to ski or dealing with other skiers’ exuberant high-speed Italian antics is another question, but the other aspects of the experience – the breathtaking mountains, wonderful refuges, and classy town – should be enough to make this a great first trip on skis.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Intermediate Skiing
Cortina may be nirvana for intermediates: there’s no nook you can’t enjoyably find, despite the fact that the four distinct ski areas are dispersed.
For the great majority of skiers, Cortina may be nirvana. With minimal frights to worry about and adequate terrain dispersed equally throughout all of the numerous ski slopes, there’s no corner you can’t enjoyably explore. There’s nowhere you can’t go, with the exception of Staunies (one run, out on a limb) and potentially the Forcella Rossa (which you’ll want to face to connect two locations). This is especially handy in Cortina, as it allows you to appreciate the range of views and terrain while also providing miles for the week.
There are just too many highlights for this ski level to list. Don’t be frightened off by the Olimpia, which hosts the Women’s World Cup downhill event every year, blasting past a large outcrop of rock whose sheer vertical face overshadows a steep stretch of the course. Similarly, the lengthy journey to Armentarola should be on your list of things to do on a nice day.
Cortina’s one disadvantage for experienced piste-bashers is that the regions are fragmented, although the relative lack of vertical common to most of the Dolomites is not a big issue here, and there are noteworthy lengthy descents, such as the 1600m from Tofana back to town. The Dolomiti Superski pass is likely to appeal to ambitious intermediates as well, since it covers not just Cortina and surrounding regions, but the whole 1200km of piste in the Dolomites, most of which is readily accessible by vehicle for the day.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Advanced Skiing
Cortina isn’t known for its difficult ski terrain, but there are a few solid blacks and some secret off-piste to get the adrenaline pumping, as well as superb – and luxury – ski touring.
Because it’s Italy, the grooming and snow-making are usually good, and the absence of crowds enables many of the rolling, twisting red courses to be taken at breathtaking speed. There are numerous notable black routes, including the Canalone Staunies, the steepest piste in the Dolomites, which runs between narrow, massive rock cliffs; a few above Faloria; and three more on Tofana, including the iconic Forcella Rossa.
Off-piste There are prospects as well, but they are not evident, with little in the way of attraction between the piste and some of the greatest things concealed in steep couloirs. Local guides will accompany you on the Creste Bianche, Bus Tofana, Canalino del Prete, and Sci 18 trails. The website www.dolomiti.org provides wonderful sections with photographs and maps that illustrate some of the numerous choices.
The highlight, if you’re ready to sweat a little, may be a ski excursion from the Fanes refuge. There are en suite rooms as well as dormitories, great amenities, and superb dining with lots of atmosphere, history, and natural beauty, making it more like a four star hotel than a mountain lodge.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Boarding & Freestyle
Cortina’s minimal off-piste and well-groomed terrain make it ideal for carvers rather than free riders. At Faloria, there is also a terrain park.
The pisted terrain is typically as nice to board as it is to ski, with few flats, however certain link-runs are terrible news. Carvers will like the limited off-piste and well-groomed terrain. The lift system still has a substantial number of outdated 2-seater chairlifts, which may be tough for certain snowboarders, although Cortina’s ski lifts are generally acceptable.
Cortina’s 500m-long Faloria snowpark, accessible by a 4-seater chairlift from Socrepes, has a simple line for children and novices with four kickers ranging in length from 1-6 metres, as well as a ground-level box and rail. More advanced boarders and freestylers may ride the medium line, which has a super box kink 4 metres flat and 4 metres downhill, a t box and tube rail (3 metres each), bank bins, a wall ride 3×2, a tree bank with rail, a kicker, and a fun box (8-10 metres). Helmets are required.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Snow & Weather
Cortina has suffered a bit from Mother Nature’s capricious temperament, but has invested substantially in snow-making to make up for any natural deficiencies at the start of recent seasons, as has the rest of the Dolomites. Even the most difficult piste lines are well-served by excellent snowmaking. On the bright side, Cortina (and the Dolomites as a whole) will get snow from storm directions while other regions will not. If it isn’t snowing in the Dolomites, at least it will be sunny to enjoy the jaw-dropping views and outdoor eating.