The town centre of Cortina d'Ampezzo is lined with many restaurants, accomodations, shops etc, and there is an impressive church here as well. It is located very near to the bus terminal (where the Dolomitibus arrives) and not very big, so do not expect too much. To me, Cortina is a very good getaway from Venice, and these two beautiful places (i.e. Venice & Cortina) are so much different :)
Cortina is a very nice town to explore in all seasons, especially in summer when the sun is warm and bright. You will see many alpine buildings here, including many holiday resorts and shops for the skiing season. The town square is very nice and there is a big church here. You can also walk out of the town and explore the surrounding Dolomite Mountains, which unfortunately I did not have much time to do it and furthermore the weather was not too good when I was there in June 2007.
Many of the bars especially up in the hills will have grappa for sale. Not in bottles but in rubber sealed jars like big jam jars. The Women's Institute never did this! Grappa the spirit made from the remains of the wine pressings is normally a clear liquid but here they mix it with various things like fruit, honey and herbs to produce some excellent high octane flavoured spirits. They even did some with onions and one with milk but it looked disgusting! The wonderful drinks are taken from the jars by ladle and well worth a try. Excellent stuff and who cares if it's mass produced somewhere. It looks like homebrew and tastes like it! Give it a try if you see some. Two places where they have it are at Lago Ghedina and Lago Pianozes but you'll see it at many of the rifugios. Sorry I haven't got any pictures.
Go to Passo Falzarego and take the cable car to the summit of Lagazuoi high above you. The area is a WW1 site and there are various memorials around the bottom station. The top station gives access to some old WW1 Austrian positions. See how they look down on the Italian line at Cinque Torri. It's a superb ride up in the cable car and there's a bar at the top!
The walk down can be done by two routes. A difficult Austrian troop path that the guidebooks advise torches and helmets for or a longer path round to the north. It's barren and rocky but there are splendid views in all directions. The Austrian fortifications have been restored and you can see how they tunnelled for miles into the mountains. The walk down by the easier route is well signposted and not difficult although there are some steep slopes where care is required. On returning to Falzarego there is one restaurant or the souvenir shop that has a bar but little to offer foodwise. It's best to walk down the road about 500 metres to the bar/restaurant on the corner.
From the Bai de Dones chairlift to Scolattoli the path heads south and upwards towards Averau. It isn't signposted very well but it's easy to see and follow. The mountains here are very barren and the vegetation soon gives way to bare rock. It's about a 90 minute climb up to Averau and the views are wonderful. The beer was welcome too! From Averau the path climbs up the ridge. It looks narrow but actually isn't. The path is quite rocky but easy to follow. Nuvolau is reached in about an hour. Another welcome bar and some even more stunning views. Both the bars have Helicopter pads. We might slog it up but the jet set don't! You walk down by the same route and can continue down via the ski run to Bai de Dones or get the chairlift. A stiff climb but well worth the effort.
From the old railway station walk north along the old railway line until you come to a bridge over it after about a mile. Climb up the cutting to the bridge and turn right up the hill by a road through two small villages. Beyond the second village the tarmac road becomes a gravel track and is signposted Rif. Tondo. The bar is also a chairlift station so you can ride up there if it's working. The bar has excellent views but after a 2 hour climb it's best to admire a beer or two first! The terrace is a great place to relax and if you are lucky the outdoor grill will be on. if not I reccommend the crisps! They let us eat our own food but then we did buy a lot off beer! There's also outdoor table tennis and a dartboard nailed to a tree! You can go further up to Mietres by foot or chairlift. The walk down follows a ski run and has some lovely views of Cortina and the mountains to the west. It's about an hour down into town giving a 3 hour walk in all. The young guy behind the bar likes rock music and sometimes has bands up there. An unusual venue for live music!
From most places around Cortina you will see the tower on the hill at Pocol to the west. It was built to commemorate the dead of the fighting in the area in WW1. It's a steep climb up and the busy road up to Falzarego. Follow the signpost from the road to Sacrario Militaire and you enter the site in a small area with some monuments and a couple of field guns. A tiny chapel contains the wall painting of a soldier and his dead comrade. Walk down the walled path to the tower itself and go inside. The walls are inscribed with the names of the fallen, their regiment and their awards. In rather Oympian fashion it seems Italian soldiers could win Bronze, Silver or Gold medals. There are round stairwells both up and down. Below is a memorial to an Italian general whilst above you get access to a terrace that runs round the tower. The view back into Cortina is obscured by trees but the mountains are visible. The site used to have a cable car from town and if you follow signs to the Belvedere the disused top station is still there and you can look down into Cortina The bar is a disco which seems strange bearing in mind the location and its inaccessibility.
Take the cable car from Bai de Dones to Rifugio Scolattoli. Four berth seats with a pull down perspex canopy if it's wet or windy. If the cable car is closed the path follows the pylons. It's steep to begin with but less steep later on and Scolattoli is reached in about 90 minutes. Have well earned beer before visiting the WW1 fortifications to the left of the bar and below the 5 peaks. Anetwork of trenches, posts and galleries have been restored and you can wander round the site for about an hour. There are some steep steps in places. Return to the bar for some more beer and then walk back down the ski run to Bai de Dones. On the other side of Cinque Torri is another path which leads down to another bar/rifugio called Rifugio Cinque Torri! Pretty original name or what! Beyond Scollatoli is the path climbing higher to Averau and Novalau. Excellent views of the mountains all round and an interesting historical site to explore with about 3 hours walking if the cable car runs or 4-5 hours if it doesn't.
Head south along the old railway line which is has been converted into a tarmac path. It crosses over a small viaduct and gives some good views of the town and the surrounding mountains. After about a mile to your right down the embankment you will see a small roadside bar called Toto. It's a hut and all the seating is outside but it's worth a stop for a beer and the view back down the valley to Cortina. Rejoin the path and keep walking south until you reach the outskirts of Zuel where a road crosses the path. Turn right then left up the hill folowing the sign marked Trampolino. It takes you to the ski jumps and you can look down the landing slope. Beyond the main jump is a smaller wooden construction you can climb onto. It's a bit rickety! Retrace your steps to the bottom of the path but turn left and cross the river towalk back into town via de Soza. If the campsite is open you can have another beer. The whole walk should take about 3-4 hours. Lovely views and only one hill of any steepness to climb.
Nestled in the Ampezzo valley at the foot of the magnificent Dolomites in northern Italy, is the glitzy ski resort of Cortina d' Ampezzo. At an elevation of 1210m, it enjoys adequate snowfall from December till early March, making it a popular ski resort for the rich and famous.
Cortina d'Ampezzo was the host town of the 1956 Winter Olympics.
The panoramic view of the Cortina d'Ampezzo and Ampezzo valley. The Faloria-Cristallo area surrounding Cortina is known for its 30 km of slopes and 16 km of fresh-snow runs.
At 1223m above sea-level Cortina snowfall is usually abundant from late December to early March.
The small church of Madonna della Difesa is the oldest church in the town. It was built in 1400 and restored in 1743. Inside the church you can admire the interesting sculptures and frescoes by Francesco Zeiler.
The parish church of the Saints Filippo and Giacomo was built at the end of the 18th century and nowadays it it keeps precious treasures, such as the tabernacle, carced in 1703 by Andrea Brustolon, and the vault frescoed by Francesco Zeiler.
The bell tower was built later on, between 1851 and 1858 and is the landmark of the town.
Cortina began its to growth in the second half of 19th century, becoming popular centre of the Dolomites at the beginning of the 20th century. This tourist resort is worldwide known, loved by princes, celebrities and the international jet-set.
Ampezzo valley looks like an natural amphitheatre open to sunbeams and well protected, thanks to the mountain of Pomagagnon which is situated at the north side. The valley extends from Passo Falzarego to Croci, with the most beautiful groups of Eastern Dolomites: Sorapiss, Antelao, Croda Rossa and Cristallo.
Cortina is also known as "Pearl of the Dolomites".