Cortina d’Ampezzo: The Italian Ski Resort with Celebrity Appeal
by Holly Overton
This year, the Superyacht Design Festival, previously known as the Superyacht Design Symposium, will return to the beautiful Italian ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, from 2 - 4 February 2020. If you plan on joining us in Cortina for the Design Festival, BOAT International Design and Innovation Awards and the Young Designer of the Year Award, here's how you can make the most of your time in the Dolomites…
Set in the jagged Dolomites of Northern Italy, just two hours from Venice airport, Cortina offers low-key glamour, stunning scenery and a taste of la dolce vita. What was once an icy battleground during the First World War is now the resort of choice for well-heeled skiers, as well as a few A-listers.
Also known as ‘queen of the Dolomites’, the area is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site with winding ski trails and postcard worthy views. After hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics, skiers and non-skiers alike began to flock to the area. It soon became a winter rendezvous for celebrities, with the golden girls of the fifties and sixties such as Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn revelling in the glamour. The resort has even been nicknamed “salotto dei famosi” or “the celebrities' living room”, with stars like George Clooney often spotted on the slopes.
Cortina's dramatic scenery has also provided the snowy setting for a number of Hollywood classics, including James Bond's high-speed ski chase in For Your Eyes Only, The Pink Panther and Sylvester Stalone's box office hit Cliffhanger.
Cortina offers skiers 140km of scenic runs across the resort’s three ski areas, Cortina Cube (Cristallo, Faloria, Mietres), Tofana and Lagazuoi – 5 Torri, all connected by a free bus. From the town centre, two cable cars whisk skiers to a central departure point for chairlifts to take you further up the mountain, and with resort-wide snow making capability you can expect perfect conditions throughout the season.
For your fill of culture, ski between bunkers and trenches around the Col di Lana, often referred to as the open-air history museum, which was the epicentre of the battles between Italian troops and Austrian forces during World War One.
A testament to the world-class skiing on offer, Cortina will also be hosting the World Ski Championships in 2021 as well as the Winter Olympics in 2026 together with Milan.
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to food, from cosy family-run pizzerias to high-end eateries. For dinner head to Tivoli, a low-key Michelin-starred restaurant known for its creative take on traditional mountain dishes, or there’s Il Meloncino al Caminetto which, rumour has it, serves up the best fresh pasta in town.
On the mountain, wooden ‘rifugios’ rustle up hot and hearty dishes throughout the day and are the perfect pit-stop for weary skiers. Warm up with a thick Italian-style hot chocolate on the terrace at Rifugio Scoiattoli, or ski in to Rifugio Averau and refuel with a large bowl of casunziei all’Ampezzana, crescent-shaped fresh pasta stuffed with beetroot and topped with poppy seeds, melted butter and heaps of Parmesan – a local favourite.
While nightlife is more understated than at its neighbours in the French Alps, the heart of Cortina is dotted with stylish bars serving cocktails and post-slope aperitivos (as Italian tradition dictates). In the high season partygoers head to VIP Club for late-night drinks as music plays into the early hours.
When it comes to Italian wine, oenophiles will be spoilt for choice. The surrounding area, Veneto, is among Italy’s most productive wine regions and is best known for its Prosecco. Sample a few of the region’s finest at Enoteca, which serves over 700 different labels from Northern Italy and beyond.
When you're not on the slopes
At the heart of Cortina is the Corso Italia, a cobbled pedestrian street lined with cafes and shops from boutique jewellers to renowned luxury Italian brands. Between December and February the street becomes a parade of fur coats and colour-coordinated skiwear. Meanwhile, adventure-seekers can rent snowmobiles and power through the winding trails of the Dolomites.
The nearest Italian airports to Cortina are Canova di Treviso and Venice Marco Polo, each a two-hour transfer by car. Other options in Italy are Verona airport, or Innsbruck airport across the border in Austria.