Our visit to Cortina d’Ampezzo, a little crown jewel of a skiing place, in the Dolomites was nothing but ordinary.
Starting with us arriving at Venice airport just as the last bus to Cortina had departed and finishing with me spending the last two days at the hospital.
Nevermind, this gave us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the hospitality of the locals. Normally one would arrive to Cortina d’Ampezzo by a transfer bus from the airport via Cortina Express, however as we were told as it’s towards the end of the season already in March, they had cancelled the 8.15pm transfer. There are trains from Mestre station in Venice. Once on the train, all was going smoothly up to the point when the train just stopped and didn’t move for 20minutes. This meant that we missed our next following 2 connections and went through a slight panic moment. Luckily our little stop was Conegliano, literally the Capital of Prosecco, where we managed to get a four glasses and typical aperativo snacks for €10 only! The ticket office told us that Trenitalia had organised us a free taxi to get to where we wanted and sadly we had to move on from the prosecco-land. Not sure whether something like this would happen in the UK?
Cortina d’Ampezzo itself, as we learnt before the trip, is a place where people go to show off their fur coats and quite a few of the people there would just promenade on the high street of Cortina and hardly go to the slopes. This is absolutely true. It’s a good place to play ‘Spot the fur coat’ and do a bit of Italian shopping. Food was equally as good and prosecco was equally as cheap as in the Capital of Prosecco – approximately €2-€4 per glass. People of Cortina also seem to enjoy making their own grappa, as even at our hotel, a blueberry grappa was brewing on the balcony in the sunshine. Unfortunately it takes 40 days to get ready, so we couldn’t try it for breakfast, but ended up trying both apricot and nut grappas in the evening.
In terms of eating, I would definitely recommend listening to the locals, we followed Tripadvisor and went to Il Vizietto di Cortina for the first evening, where we had a lovely fish meal. However, next night we visited Ra Stua, which was recommended by our hotel and it was outstanding. The menu di degustazione for €29 was a feast of meat carpaccio, game tagiatelle, steak and tiramisu and we were offered a discount by our hotel of 10%. For a simpler meal, Birreria Hacker Pschorr (Via Stazione 7) is perfect. Quite a few late night tourists seem to gather there and the staff create a very friendly atmosphere.
So, not to forget the bit we actually went there for, the skiing. There’s a lift that takes people up to Faloria, from where you can ski on to Cristallo. People seem to prefer one or the other depending on from which direction the sun shines, or doesn’t. I would say that the slopes are challenging enough for intermediate skiers like me, but perhaps stretching a bit for advanced skiers, particularly as the variety is quite limited. The slopes are in excellent condition however, equipped with wonderful restaurants to refuel. As my last couple of days were spent at the hospital, I missed out on the slopes on the other side of the village, so could be that there’s a lot more choice for skiing than I saw.
We also had a taste of luxury at Hotel Cristallo where for €25 each we were able to use their steam room, sauna and the pool for couple of hours. It’s a perfect way to relax before going out for dinner.
Cortina d’Ampezzo in my opinion is a place relatively easy to reach, the people are very friendly, the food is fantastic, the slopes are not too busy and there are other activities if you get too tired of skiing. Definitely won my heart.