This mountain town is Italy’s most scenic winter destination

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Who hasn’t wanted to take a winter vacation trip inside a chocolate box painting, or maybe a 007 snowy landscape backdrop? (Minus all the explosions and chase scenes on the ski slopes, of course.) In Cortina d’Ampezzo, a beautiful valley town with over a thousand years of history, home of the majestic queen of the Dolomite Alps, it’s possible !

The Marmolada, also known as the Queen of the Dolomites, is the reigning and highest mountain in the Dolomite Alps, one of the most popular winter destinations and ski slopes in the world. Nestled in the heart of these Dolomite Alps is the kind of historic Italian, Austrian and Ladinian small town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, located in the Veneto region of northern Italy.


The list of attractions seems endless, including winter sports facilities, skiing, luxury boutiques, local crafts and crafts, Ladin cuisine, après ski attractions, architecture and the historic monuments and, of course, the beautiful surroundings: everywhere you turn, a panoramic view of the snow-capped Dolomites mountains welcomes you.

Millennial history

The first recorded mention of Cortina dates back to 1156, and archaeological tomb finds prove that there were people in the Ampezzo area until the 6th millennium BC

Ampezzo was part of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, later conquered by the Republic of Venice. After 1511 it became part of the County of Tyrol, under the rule of the Habsburgs.

He rebounded from Napoleonic rule to the Austrian Empire, to Austria-Hungary until the height of World War I, where he officially became Italian, transferred from Tyrol to the province of Belluno.

The mountains of the Dolomites were the scene of many bloody battles during the world wars, moments of tourist boom for the aristocracy and even the upper Italian fascist echelon, to withstand the hard knocks of wars.

Cortina was supposed to host the 1944 Winter Olympics, but they were canceled due to the war. It then hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, which exploded its popularity around the world and put it on the map as a winter tourism destination, although it was previously a place of predilection among the first British “tourists” and mountaineers in the 19th century, and high society tourists in the early 20th century.

During the tourist seasons, the population of Cortina d’Arezzo is more than quintupled, increasing from around 7,000 to 40,000 people in the seasonal months, both in summer and in winter – although it is in winter, the city really shines. .

Related: It’s the Best Town in France to Rent a Ski Chalet

Skiing and winter sports

Cortina d’Ampezzo has a long history with winter sports. It was established definitively as a must-see tourist attraction of the 1956 Winter Olympics and is expected to co-host the next 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Winter Games with Milan. It was also the host city of the 2021 Alpine Skiing World Championships.

Cortina has ski facilities for professionals and amateurs alike, with numerous ski schools across the peaks, which hold 95% of the snowfall from December to April. It is also home to a professional ice hockey team, the SG Cortina.

Other winter sports such as ski mountaineering, curling, ice skating, figure skating, snowboarding, sledding and extreme skiing are popular activities in the area. In the summer, people enjoy mountaineering, mountain biking, hiking, swimming and tennis in Cortina.

Shopping and crafts

Cortina has a strong craft center and market that dates back to the 19th century when German vacationers appreciated their handmade products and furniture. Today it has its own Arts Center.

In Corso Italia, one of the most famous Italian shopping streets, you can find handmade toys, carpentry, ironwork, crafts and antiques, as well as sporting goods and shops. luxury goods such as Gucci, Bulgari, Céline and Bennetton.

Attractions

Cortina d’Ampezzo is made up of snow-capped mountains behind charming snow-huts with flower-filled balconies, 19th-century Hungarian-style mansions, 17th-century castles and the green tones of its medieval bell tower. It almost looks like a fairytale town. With such a long history, it’s no surprise that Cortina has so many landmarks in such a small town.

Cortina has many museums, such as the Open Air Museum of the Great War, located at the top of Marmalada Mountain (making it the tallest museum in the world!), With trenches dated to the Great War and the Musei delle Regole d’Ampezzo, which holds a museum paleontology, an ethnographic museum and a museum of modern art.

It also has many historical monuments, medieval castles, churches, basilicas and forts.

Related: Visit Rome’s Pantheon To See One Of Rome’s Well-Preserved Buildings

Accommodation

Cortina is considered one of the best ski resorts in the world, with high quality structures, mountain accommodation and renowned après ski accommodation.

One of its century-old hotels, the Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel, was featured in the James Bond film Just for your eyes. It is as majestic as ever and even offers a 007 themed room available for reservation.

Cortina offers accommodation for whatever visitors are looking for, luxury vacations, spa getaways, scenic mountain breaks, and rifugios – smaller, comfortable accommodations and BnBs often with restaurants as well. A real mountain refuge.

Next: The Complete Guide to Winter Vacations in Vermont (Whether You’re a Skier or Not)


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