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Cortina is one of the most stylish and glamorous resorts in the world.
Cortina d'Ampezzo is the Queen of the Dolomites and easily Italy’s most glamorous and fashionable ski resort. Except that it is not really a ski resort as we know them. Rather it is an attractive, sprawling small town located at an altitude of 1,220m, surrounded by impressive peaks and about half a dozen more or less separate ski areas. (The local scenery featured in the film Cliffhanger and the Warren Miller ski movie Vertical Reality.) Much favoured by rich weekend visitors from Rome and Milan, many of whom have second homes here, this is a stylish and fashion-conscious destination that is Italy's answer to St Moritz, Courchevel 1850 and Aspen. It may not have quite the same range and quality of ski terrain as its international competitors, but it has a stylish ambience that none of them can match.
Unlike many of the resorts in the Dolomites, there is nothing remotely Germanic about Cortina (although it was just part of the Austro-Hungarian empire before the Great War) – this is a gloriously and uncompromisingly Italian destination. You see far more fur coats than ski suits in the Corso Italia, Cortina’s main street, which is at its most packed and exciting during the early evening Passeggiata around seven o’clock. You may have to struggle to find a ski shop, but there are plenty of boutiques selling designer clothes and yet more fur coats.
There are no official figures, but I would guess that fewer than a half – and perhaps as few as a quarter – of Cortina’s winter visitors actually ski. This is a place where skiers, boarders and non-skiers coexist happily. Many non-skiers actually make use of the ski-lifts to access some of the area’s excellent mountain restaurants, where they pass the day happily eating, drinking and sunbathing and having a lunchtime visitation from their skiing friends.
Food and drink play an equally important part in Cortina’s splendid nightlife. There are some wonderful little wine-bars for aperitivi, masses of good restaurants (including Michelin-starred ones) and several lively nightclubs and discos that keep going until nearly dawn in peak season and at weekends.