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Cortina d'Ampezzo – the resort honored by the Olympics


The Italian ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo gained its world fame during the 1956 Winter Olympics. It was the first time Italy hosted skiing competitions. Sophia Loren was the invited guest of the event. Since then, glamor and professional sports have been an integral part of the Cortina vacation experience.

Cortina d'Ampezzo is located in the sunny Ampezzo Valley, surrounded by the Dolomites. Le Corbusier called these mountains the most beautiful architectural creation of nature, and UNESCO has included them in the list of World Heritage Sites.

Cortina is the most famous resort of the Italian ski area "Dolomites-Superiors", which includes:

  • 15 ski resorts;
  • 1200 km of ski slopes;
  • 450 ski lifts;
  • 18 snow parks;
  • 1 common ski pass.

The Dolomites occupy the territory of South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno. But it was with the opening of the ski club in Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1903 that their development as a tourist destination began. 
In 1956, Cortina hosted the first Winter Olympics in Italy. They will be held for the second time in 2026 and will have a record geography for a winter event: Milan, Cortina, Verona, Val di Fiemme, Valtellina, and Anterselva. 
You can try your hand at professional venues in the coming season. For this purpose, there are:

  • the Olympia delle Tofane ski slope, also known as Stratofana Olimpica. It was the site of the men's downhill competition in 1956, as well as the World Ski Championships in downhill, super-G, and giant slalom.  The track is 2,560 meters long, with an elevation difference of 760 meters and a maximum slope angle of 65%; 
  • Olympic Stadium, built in 1956. It hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. Initially, the ice arena was open-air, but later it became covered. You can go ice skating or play curling (or take lessons in both). 

Cortina has an incredible space for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. There are 120 km of ski slopes. The highest is Bus di Tofana, which starts at 2742 meters, the longest is Armentarola (7.5 km), and the steepest is Forcella Rossa (62%). During a ski safari, you can discover Cortina and the Dolomites. Numerous lodges on the mountain slopes offer a hot drink, a rest on the panoramic terrace, traditional dishes, a night stay and a magical sunrise over the mountains.

Mountain climbing, cross-country walking, freeriding, snowshoeing and skiing tours - day and night with guides, mountain biking, dog sledding excursions, snowkiting, ice climbing, numerous via ferrata with suspension bridges - this is truly the capital of winter (and summer) entertainment. One of the routes leads to the Cinque Torre rocks, or "Five Towers," which is a symbol of the resort. In fact, there are more than five peaks, but only so many are visible from Cortina. The children's program should include pony or Icelandic horseback riding.

Almighty nature

Cortina's decoration is the Ampezzo Dolomites Natural Park. There are 300 km of trails for walking in complete silence, eight mountaineering routes and numerous lakes. Some of the trails pass by the places where the events of the First World War took place: you will see old stone walls, caves, and tunnels. It is worth coming to the park with binoculars to see deer and hares.

Cinematic heritage

Along with the development of skiing, Cortina has also hit the radar of star directors and actors. After all, the panoramas here are combined with a well-developed infrastructure. For example, in The Rock Climber, starring Sylvester Stallone, the 30-meter-long Cristallo suspension bridge appears in the frame, which is part of the extreme Via Ferrata of Ivano Dibona. According to the plot, the bridge is blown up, which actually happened, but it was rebuilt after the filming was over.

The film features the Rifugio Lagazuoi, the largest and highest tourist shelter in Cortina. It is located at an altitude of 2752 meters, and its terrace offers the best alpine views. Here you can spend the night and visit the highest mountain sauna in the Dolomites.

Most scenes of the movie "For Your Eyes Only" with Roger Moore as Bond were filmed in Cortina. The events take place in the Miramonti Hotel (now the Miramonti Majestic Grand Hotel), the Cima Tofana Bar (3244 m), Corso Italia, the main street of the resort, and the Ice Stadium.

Melodramas, comedies, action movies, and action films have marked places on the map of Cortina and provided ideas for movie-star vacations. These can be:

  • an afternoon walk in the historic center, on Corso Italia. There are boutiques of luxury brands with the latest collections, coffee shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, antique shops, and artisan workshops. (In December, fashion weekends are held with shows of new collections, parties with DJs, and other social events);
  • a sweet break in the center of Corso Italia at the Lovat family confectionery with a century of history;
  • a leisurely lunch at the Rifugio Col Drusciè, which can be reached by the Tofane Freccia nel Cielo cable car. It is there that the Helmut Ulrich Astronomical Observatory with two telescopes is open at an altitude of 1778 meters;
  • dinner in a restaurant in Piazza Venezia next to the bell tower, which can be seen from anywhere in the resort.

You should also

  • visit the family forge, where they make everything from household items to elegant home decor, and the carpentry workshop; 
  • while walking in the city center, pay attention to the Doll's House (Ra Ciasa de i Pùpe). Its facades are decorated with frescoes depicting Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Durer, Titian, Michelangelo, Dante, Goethe, Shakespeare, and scenes from life in the Ampezzo Valley;
  • go on a helicopter tour or take piloting lessons; 
  • visit the Mario Rimoldi Museum of Modern Art. Its exposition includes paintings and sculptures by prominent Italian artists of the 20th century: Giorgio de Chirico, Pablo Picasso, Renato Guttuso, Filippo de Pisis, Carlo Carr, Giorgio Morandi, Fortunato Depero, Mario Sironi, Mimmo Rotella and many others;
  • visit the Paleontological Museum: learn that in the distant past the Dolomites were covered by the sea and explore the development of life on Earth over 250 million years. There is also an ethnographic museum; 
  • visit a spa in a mountain lodge and relax in a sauna on the shore of a lake at an altitude of more than 2700 meters or in a jacuzzi with views of Cinque Torre.
/ / / Cortina d'Ampezzo – the resort honored by the Olympics