Ever been to Cortina? Well, now’s the time! Cortina D’Ampezzo is one cool ski resort, and here’s a few reasons why:
1. The Ford Cortina
Ford Motors named their hugely popular, mid-size family car after this place. How many ski resorts can make a similar claim?
As a publicity stunt, several Cortinas – which eventually became the United Kingdom’s best-selling car of the 1970s – were driven down the resort’s bobsled run, whilst rally ace Roger Clarke put the car through its paces on the piste.
2. Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Peter Sellers and the rest of the cast did most of the filming for 1963’s The Pink Panther – the first film in the series – here.
Fans will remember the film proper begins with Claudia Cardinale’s character relaxing on holiday in Cortina d’Ampezzo in all her finery. Also staying is a noted British playboy, Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven), who leads a secret life as a jewel thief called ‘The Phantom’ and has his eyes on the Pink Panther.
Remember that lovely chalet with the fireplace in the middle? That was Cortina, too.
3. Bond, James Bond
Cortina’s slopes were the filming location for perhaps the best ever James Bond stunt sequence.
You know the one: Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only, hurtling down the slopes on skis with bad guys on spiked-wheeled motorbikes exploding in his wake. Brilliant.
4. Even Sly Stallone Made A Film Here
And if that wasn’t already enough Hollywood screen time, Sylvester Stallone was here in the early 1990s to film several of the key scenes from the box office hit Cliffhanger.
Of course, the film features a failed heist on a U.S. Treasury plane flying through the Rocky Mountains, not the Italian Dolomites. Didn’t seem to prevent it from making $250 million worldwide though…
5. A Unique Role in WW1
This particular section of the Eastern Dolomite Mountains was one of the major battlefields on the Italian Front in WW1. The rock, ice and year-round severe climate provided limitless opportunities to ambush the enemy and infantry attacks took place on 45-degree rock slopes, often in howling blizzards
Once the peaks were finally captured the war went underground, in a battle of tunneling and enormous exploding mines.
At one point in 1915, the majority of the town’s inhabitants were on the Russian front fighting for Austria. 669 men – the majority of whom were teenagers or old men – took up arms and met the advancing Italian army on the slopes where you can ski today. Severely outnumbered, they retreated after an extremely bloody mountainside battle.
6. The 1956 Winter Olympics
That’s right – the seventh Winter Olympics were held here in 1956. The Austrian great, Toni Sailer, became the first person to sweep all three alpine skiing events in a single Olympics.
And with the whole world following every moment of his heroics, Toni put Cortina on the map in the process. It’s been one of Europe’s major ski resorts ever since.
Amazing, But Is It Any Surprise?
Of course, these are some magnificient claims to fame – the James Bond credit alone is a piece of publicity every ski resort in the world would hand over their best chairlift for.
But when you’ve been to Cortina yourself, you’ll realise it’s no great surprise. This is an elite destination with magnificent dolomitian scenery, a traditional town and more boutiques, great cafes and excellent restaurants than you can shake a ski pole at.
The resort has two large ski areas with skiing for all abilities and a vast array of hotels to choose from, ticking all the boxes for families, couples or corporate groups. Plan a trip with us and we’ll also make sure you benefit from our years of knowledge of the area and send you to the best places to dine on and off the mountain.
One More Thing…
Allow me to give you one more golden nugget of advice. If you do end up going skiing in Cortina d’Ampezzo this winter, make sure you do the following:
First, fly to Venice airport. Store your bags at the left luggage office and grab a vaporetto (water taxi) – you’ll be in Piazza San Marco in 30 minutes. Soak in Venice for half a day, have lunch in Osteria da Fiore before you return, and then pick up your car from the airport.
It’s as easy as that – your trip is barely disrupted, you get a wonderful taste of Venice, and Cortina is still only a two-hour drive away.
Second, have lunch at Rifugio Averau. It has one of the best views in the Alps and if you ask, they’ll serve three different types of their delicious pasta on one plate.
And finally, ski the Hidden Valley off Lagazuoi, which is one long red/blue run down to Armenterola. Just you and stunning nature. No other ski lifts in sight. It’s every bit as beautiful as it sounds.￼