Cortina d’Ampezzo: The Italian ski resort with celebrity appeal

Cortina d’Ampezzo: The Italian ski resort with celebrity appeal

After a successful few years in Kitzbühel, Austria, the Superyacht Design Symposium will be moving to the beautiful Italian ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo in 2019. If you’ll be joining us for the symposium, as well as the Boat International Design and Innovation Awards and Young Designer of the Year Award next year, read on to discover how to make the most out of your time in Cortina…

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. It comes as no surprise that Cortina has been nicknamed “salotto dei famosi” or “the celebrities living room”. More recently, George Clooney and Naomi Campbell have been spotted on the slopes.


Cortina offers skiers 120km 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.


There’s plenty of choice when it comes to food, from cosy family-run pizzerias to high-end eateries. For dinner, head to Michelin-star Il Gazebo which offers panoramic views across the Ampezzo valley, 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 low-key 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 Janbo 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 or try bobsledding at the Cortina Adrenaline Centre.

Getting there

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.