Cortina is probably the premier ski resort in Italy. The most fashionable Italians know that although Cortina may not be the best place to ski, it is beautiful. Cortina is located in the Ampezzo Valley in the beautiful Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy. The town has a much more Italian influence than other more German-type ski resorts in the area. The charm of this Tyrolean town lies in its architecture and the atmosphere created by the chic Italians that flock there.
The town is connected with other resorts in the area through the Dolomiti Super Ski Pass, which gives skiers over 740 miles of runs. There are great beginner slopes, intermediates and black-coded expert runs, which allow skiers of any ability to enjoy this resort. From the ski-jumps to the long sweeping runs, skiers will find that Cortina is an ideal resort. In the summer, the plastic slopes at the Ski Stadium offer basic skiing on a interesting medium.
For the sport enthusiast that does not ski, do not despair; there are many options for you in Cortina. The outdoor sports include: snowmobiling, ice climbing, tobogganing, ice-skating and much more. This guarantees that any sportsman will be able to enjoy himself at this resort.
For the non-athlete, yes, even you will be happy here. The shopping at Cortina is not to be missed. And further, one can eat in fabulous restaurants, relax and take a beautiful stroll though the streets of a picturesque town, or dance the night away, in one of the happening locales in town.
Ski Area Map and Description
The slopes in Cortina give skiers about 70 miles of runs, but when the Super Ski Pass is taken into account, skiers can enjoy over 740 miles of beautiful runs. A dream for beginners, the ski school and the perfect conditions combine to make Cortina a great place for novice skiers. Intermediates and experts alike will not be disappointed because 65% of the trails are for the more advanced skier. In addition, the off-pist skiing will appeal to the more experienced skier.
Problems with Cortina can include the sometime lack of snow covering the slopes. Due to the location of the runs, and where they face can cause thin snow and unsuitable slopes in some areas. Also, as with other Italian resorts, the holidays and weekends will find the resort more crowded.
Lifts and Tickets
The lifts are fast so there is not much of an issue of long lift lines. Sometimes, the cable cars of Faloria and Tofano can be crowded, but generally only for the first morning runs. One must take a ski-bus between the different resorts in the Super Ski Pass, and these lines can be long, but the service is free.
There are 37 total lifts that include 8 draglifts, 24 chairs, and 5 cable cars in the modern lift system of Cortina.
The Dolomiti Super Ski Pass gives skiers access to the whole Dolomite region and over 700 miles of runs. The pass includes 12 different resorts and has 450 lifts in the system. During the low season, a one-day pass is around $41, a three-day pass is $115 and a six-day pass is around $200. Discounts are available for children and seniors. The other option would be the Cortina Area Pass, which encompasses the resorts of Cortina, Auronzo, Misurina and San Vito. The ticket to this area will cost $ 36 for one day and $178 for a six-day pass during the low season.
There are discounted available to children and senior citizens. One is encouraged to buy lift tickets in advance to avoid waiting in line.
There are two reasons why beginners should come here to Cortina to learn to ski: the ideal beginner slopes and the expert teachers at the ski school. With over half of the slopes in the Super Ski Pass linked region being beginner runs, there are more than enough slopes to keep beginners skiing for days on varied terrain. In Cortina itself, 39 of the trails are blue-coded and there are 259 in the whole region.
Some of the best places for beginners are: Passo Falzarego or Tofana and Socrepes. These trails are very gentle and the lift system that supports them is perfect for someone who has never attempted a lift before.
Located at the bottom of the mountain and facing towards the south, the slopes can experience a lack of snow at the beginning and end of the season. There are snowmakers in place that seek to keep the slopes covered and in ski-able condition.
For the skier that enjoys long, cruising runs, Cortina is the place for you. 62% of the trails are at the intermediate or red-coded level. With the Super Ski Pass, intermediates can 205 slopes to explore. There is less of a problem of lack of snow for the red-coded runs, and almost no problem for the runs located on the upper half of the mountain. However, the beginning and end of the season may see thinning on the slopes.
Some areas for intermediate skiers to try include: Cinque Torri (which means five towers), Faloria, and Tofana. There is a six-mile cruising run, which goes from Lagazuoi in the direction of Armentarola, from where one can take a taxi back to town.
There are only 3 black-coded runs in Cortina, but these are great slopes for the expert skier. In addition, the region boasts 101 black-coded slopes in all, so one will not run out of challenging terrain.
The best slopes for the expert skier are in the Tofana area, with the Forcella Rossa and Stratofana runs. Otherwise, skiers can head off-pist to the Forcella Staunies in the Cristallo area. The Gruppo Guide Alpine Cortina should be contacted as a guide is recommended when skiing the off-pist/backcountry areas.
As the host of the Winter Olympics in 1956, Cortina first made a name for itself in the international arena. There are but a few trails for racing, however those are open to the general public.
The racecourses are the Super G and the GS, while the Canalone, is the slope where the women’s Alpine Ski World Cup is held every January.
Children will find themselves welcome in this ski resort as they are in all of Italy. The Natural-Mente childcare center is Cortina is open from 8 am to 5 pm.
The skiing for children is fabulous, and the nursery slopes are some of the best in the continent. Kids 4 and up can take lessons through the ski schools. Rentals and lift tickets are discounted for kids under 12.
Older children and teens will love Cortina, not only for its skiing, but also for the variety of things there are to do after skiing. There is a cinema, video arcades, skating, swimming, rafting, sledding and bobsledding; enough activities to keep teens and their parents happy.
There is no night skiing offered in the area.
The season for this activity goes from December to March, but there is no formal company set up for heli-skiing in the Cortina area. If you want experience the off pist skiing through the Dolomities the Gruppo Guide Alpine can make arrangements for guides and transportation into the backcountry.
There are over 48 miles of formal trails for cross-country skiing throughout the area. The 20-mile trail going from Cortina to Dobbiaco is perhaps the best trail, due to its spectacular scenery. In January, the Dobbiaco-Cortina race is held here through 26 miles of backcountry, ending in the town of Cortina. There is equipment available to rent at any of the shops in town and lessons are available.
Only for Snowboarding
Boarders will like Cortina because all the slopes are open to them. The resort also boasts a snowpark with a half-pipe. For the beginners the best slopes are Pocol and Socrepas, 5 Torri e Faloria are better for advanced riders. The ski schools offer snowboard lessons.
There is a wide range of other outdoor sports activities in which to engage in Cortina and the surrounding areas. Cortina is paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts.
The Cortina area offers great opportunities for the advanced and expert ice climber. The season runs from December to March. The ice falls of Lucy in the Sky and No Hai Mas are challenges climbs that pass nearby the Freccia nel Cielo cable car. The Borca di Cadore has three 300-foot climbs of icefalls at la Lastra, Otuia, and Ru d’Assola. Near Toblach, at the Cascata del Castello, another icefall has a 200-foot climb while the Crepa San Florian has an almost 270-foot climb.
Novice climbers can hire a guide as well as an instructor through the Gruppo Guide Alpine Cortina or one of the area ski schools. There are no prepared trails or organized snow hiking in the Cortina area, however the Gruppo Guide Alpine Cortina may lead excursions into the backcountry. The Gruppo Guide Alpine Cortina offers also many guided snow shoeing excursions throughout the backcountry around Cortina. People off all ages and abilities can snowshoe and rental equipment is available at most of the rental shops in town.
One of the great things about the resort is Cortina Adrenaline Center. This is an organization that offers adventures for the person that requires a bit more excitement. They offer rafting, but not on your usual river, instead, here they raft down a ski jump. Other activities available through this group are bobsledding and hiking through the backcountry.
For the daring, but traditional there are two places that one can rent snowmobiles in the area. One in Sappada is almost an hour from Cortina, but has a great private course, with guided and independent tours available. There are mini Ski-Doos for children and night adventures that include dinner are an option here.
The other place to rent is in Misurina, which is about 10 minutes from Cortina. There are vehicles for rent per hour in a course across the lake.
The Scuola Italiana di Sleddog organizes excursions with Sled dog as well.
There are also two ice skating rinks in the area. The outdoor rink in the town of Fiames is a sport where the speed skaters like to practice, while the Olympic Ice Stadium, (outdoors as well) is open in the town and offers lessons, and skate rentals in addition to ice hockey and curling.
A more quiet activity but so gorgeous is horse-drawn sleigh riding in the town of Cortina if there is ample snow. At Armentarola, the sleigh rides can be combined with dinner at one of the rifugios.
There are a few museums in town. The Regole D’Ampezzo is actually a collection of art museums and art galleries as well as a museum of paleontology and the Ethnographic Museum of Ampezzo. The Associazione Astronomica di Cortina has an observatory from which to view the heavens.
There are many other ski resorts close to Cortina that one can ski with the Super Ski Pass. Kronplatz is one of them, and is about 40 miles from town and is a nice village to visit.
You can also go to Old Sappada to discover an ancient and traditional alpine mountain village. The itinerary takes you along the villages of Muhlbach, Cottern, Fontana, Kratten, Soravia, Ecche, Cretta and Puiche. It is possible to stretch it by reaching the village of Cima, which lies a little further away. From Muhlbach to Puiche the route is about 2 km. long; from Puiche to Cima, it is another kilometer. Each village is distinguished by some particular trait; for example the presence of an ancient fountain, a chapel, a crucifix or other sacred landmarks, which testify to the devotion of the community. If you pay attention, it is possible to spot the building dates of some of these homes engraved or painted over doors and windows.
As stated above, Venice is only a two-hour trip away and a must-see for anyone who has not been there before. This city, which is built on a system of canals, is one of the most romantic in the world. Carnevale, or the two-week period before Lent, is a huge holiday for this city. The masks that are famous in Venice come out during this period, and there are many costume balls and beautiful parades of boats that cruise along the canals.
All the luxury hotels have private gyms and spas. Moreover you can visit the gym at the Associazione Sportiva Master Gym, the Palestra Fitness Cortina Body Time, or Palestra Sport Piu for a traditional workout with fitness equipment and weights. The Centro Dimagrimento is a weight-loss center. If one just wants to swim, head for the town’s public pool. There’re also indoor tennis fields.
After a long day of hard skiing, sometimes what a person needs is a good spa and you won’t be disappointed with the spas in Cortina. The Country Club Sauna or the Sauna di Cortina will be just what the doctor order for weary muscles.
Many of the fancier hotels will have spa treatments available.
Cortina, with more than 250 shops, will make the shopaholic in you extremely happy. There are shops from sporting goods to souvenirs to designer boutiques. One can find everything imaginable along the main shopping street, the Corso Italia. Be sure to check out locally produces glass, clocks, and wooden objects.
It’s the after-ski that is makes Cortina really famous in Italy. The passeggiata, or evening walk is an activity that most Italians engage in. Sort of like cruising the strip in the States, this walk is usually done before dinner and one can go for a cocktail or just browse through the many shops in the town.
With more than enough cafes, restaurants and bars to keep the average person happy, one will not find Cortina lacking in nightlife. There are discos in which to dance, wine bars, relaxing pubs and even piano bars to explore.
Cafes will have a wide variety of pastries and are a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Try a sandwich or a “toast” which is grilled. The café is a great place for a quick bite and a great cup of coffee, whether cappuccino, espresso or any of the other coffee drinks available.
One cannot come to this region of Italy without trying the local cuisine, which is fabulous. There are choices other than Italian food and pizza can be found at many restaurants, so there are choices here for everyone. Restaurants are open for lunch from 11 to 3pm and then for dinner from 7 to closing, whenever that may be. The cafes and coffee bar are open all day long and one can be sure to get a quick bite here if time is of the essence. Go to one of the “rifugio” on the mountainside for a meal with a beautiful view.
There are so many different clubs and bars to party the night away in Cortina. It’s hard to choose just one. There are many different bars to choose from. From piano bars to wine bars, to pubs and laidback lounges; there is something for everyone here in Cortina. The discos get going around 11, and include the Hyppo, Limbo, Metro, and VIP. One can have drinks and dance until the wee hours of the morning.
Festivals & Events
Cortina hosts many sporting events during the winter months. The Olympic Games were held here in 1956 and the town continues its tradition of hosted international sporting events. The Women’s FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup is held every January. The cross-country competition Cortina-Dobbiaco is held the 1st Sunday in February every year. The International Ice-bouldering Competition is held in February, along with Carnevale, which is something to make the trip to Venice for.
Location and Elevation
Cortina is located in the Ampezzo Valley in the shadow of the Tofane trio of peaks and Mount Cristallo in the beautiful Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy.
Resort level: 2,016 feet or 1,224 meters
Top of Mountain: 10,640 feet or 3,243 meters
Vertical Drop: 6,624 feet or 2,019 meters
One should be aware that with high-altitude skiing that altitude sickness could be an issue, so one should be careful to eat and drink plenty of water. Taking your time while ascending the mountain will help you to avoid this problem.
Most of the slopes are under the tree line, but there are areas where one has spectacular views of the peaks. Be careful as whiteouts could be a problem in this area.
Snow and Weather
The ski season begins in December and end in March/April depending on conditions. The average snowfall in Cortina is about 130 inches.
Ski & Snowboard Lessons
For the inexperienced skier, or the skier who just wants to improve, one can be instructed by perhaps the best teachers in the country of Italy. There are course in not only downhill skiing, but also in: cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowblade, telemark, racing, dog sledding, ski jumping, mountaineering, ice-skating and bob sledding.
There are many schools in the area. Instructors will generally speak English, but one can book in advance, so the language barrier will not be a problem here. There are courses geared specifically towards women, senior citizens, children, and handicapped skiers.
An hour private skiing or snowboard lesson costs around $41 and the weekly group lessons costs about $193 per person.
There are many different rental shops from which to choose in the town of Cortina and the rates in all shops are about the same. Be sure to rent equipment early in order to avoid waiting in long line.
Why don’t you extend your Italian holiday…
…pass a day in marvelous Venice with its mysterious canals and its colorful Carnival, famous throughout the world. Or else travel to Milan, and walk in the shadow of the Duomo through the shops along one of the most famous streets in the Italian fashion world.
We offer extentions of your trip in Italy with different locations and durations. Contact us for more information…
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