For those who want a luxury winter break, the resort of Cortina in Italy should be high on the list of places to go. Widely considered to be one of the most chic destinations, it is frequented by the rich and famous each year. The town of Cortina itself is filled with grand houses and is just a couple of hours drive from Venice. Visiting here means that you need to be prepared to hear the Cortinese dialect rather than Italian or German as you would in some of the neighbouring towns. This is actually one of the oldest ski resorts in the world and the town’s valley location means that it is surrounded by slopes.
After a few shaky years when investment in the resort was scarce, Cortina is once again making a name for itself as a ‘must-do’ destination for skiing enthusiasts and it is once again developing an international reputation. The actual slopes here are not as important to some visitors as the après-ski. As the sun sets the mountains become an unusual shade of pink thanks to the sandstone and this is the signal for the town to become a little livelier. There are Michelin starred restaurants and great nightclubs all around the town. Designer gear is a must if you are interested in the social aspect of life here.
Skiing enthusiasts will find that there is approximately 1,200 km of slopes and terrain available to them when they opt for the Dolomite SuperSki pass. Most of the slopes in Cortina are designed to be used by beginners and intermediates with very few for the expert, but this is in keeping with a resort where most visitors are not serious skiers. A bus journey may be needed to reach some sections of the resort if you want to try other slopes or facilities.
Skiing is not the only winter sport pastime available here. In 1956 the town played host to the Winter Olympics and the ice rink used for that event has now been adapted so visitors can use it no matter what time of the year they want to come. This means that sports such as skating and curling are options for those who are prepared to give anything a go. It also still has the bobsled track and a ski jump, both of which are in use for competitions. Alternatively you can try snow-rafting or tobogganing and if you visit outside of the skiing season you will find plenty of opportunities for hiking or climbing and there are guides that can help you to find the best trails.
Those who are exploring the slopes can make use of the ‘rifugi’. These are shelters which are small but were designed for use by hikers and shepherds, but most have now been converted to small restaurants, pubs and even basic hotels. These have a very rustic feel and you can relax in front of a log fire while you enjoy a traditional Italian meal. Dining is something that should be done in style while in Cortina as many of the restaurants pride themselves on offering fare which is very different than you could expect in other resorts.
As the resort has a great reputation for luxury you can opt for one of the top end hotels, some of which have been in existence for more than 100 years. However, there are some hotels which are not as grand and the ‘rifugi’ hotels offer hostel-style accommodation at a reasonable rate. Shopping in Cortina is just as important as any part of the winter sport experience and you can expect to see a variety of designer names on the boutiques in the town. Make sure you have plenty of cash when you go and do not expect to see the plethora of souvenir shops that you can find in other resorts. You can find some bargains but you will need to spend a bit of time looking. The shops are geared up for the rich and famous visitors rather than the everyday skier.
Getting to the resort is easy as there is an international airport at Venice which sees flights arriving from all over the world and then there are buses which can take you to the resort itself or you can hire a car. It should be noted that the driving conditions within Cortina are not the best – you may find yourself fighting for parking spaces so it may be easier to rely on public transport.