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Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy: Eat, Stay, Shop, Play

Nestled whimsically in the Dolomites and surrounded by snow capped peaks, Cortina d'Ampezzo exudes the character and charm found only in storybooks. A visit here is sure to delight even the most critical skeptic. Join us as we stroll Corso Italia visiting restaurants, shops, and churches before devouring a gelato sundae and working off that sweet goodness on the powdery slopes of the Cinque Torri.

How We Got There

Cortina Express bus from Venezia Mestre Station - 2-1/2 hour bus ride. 

Ready to board the bus at Venezia Mestre, Fletcher had his own seat, Mountain View out the window before we began the climb to Cortina d'Ampezzo

This was a beautiful drive through the mountains and a great way to transfer from Venice to Cortina. Sit near the front and/or take a motion sickness medication if you get motion sickness. There are plenty of mountain curves, and they are tight. 

Sit near the front and/or take a motion sickness medication if you get motion sickness. There are plenty of mountain curves, and they are tight. 

Alternatively, if you rent a car, be prepared to pay tolls. We went through about 5 toll booths along the drive each way. We took the bus because I was concerned about road conditions, however, the roads were clear during our visit.

When We Went

Late March

Pros - shoulder season rates, clear skies, sunny days, we could continue our one month tour of Italy without freezing in our other locations

Cons - warmer skiing = slicker conditions

Eat

Il Vizietto

Just off the main street (which is usually where the best restaurants can be found) you will find Il Vizietto. A quaint eatery with high quality dishes, impeccable plating, and a selection for every budget. Our hotel staff recommended this restaurant, and we were so glad they did. We chose a pasta dish (Pacchero) to share which was delicious. The staff brought a small appetizer, crackers, and chocolate for us to enjoy as well. Being the curious dinner guest that I am, I observed the other meals around me and tried to sneak a picture of one particularly interesting prawn dish, but alas, it was blurry. They all looked amazing, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Pacchero pasta, mystery appetizer delivered before our meal, and aperol spritz from Il Vizietto in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Cioccolato Rizzati

She was so friendly and enthusiastic about her product we just couldn’t say no. After sampling her creation, we were extremely glad she enticed us.

Just across the street from Il Vizietto you will find Cioccolato Rizzati. If you want a gelato sundae, this is the place to come. Even if you don’t want one, you should try it. We almost walked out of this store because we had our hearts set on something specific, but the employee called to us and wanted us to try her gelato. She was so friendly and enthusiastic about her product we just couldn’t say no. After sampling her creation, we were extremely glad she enticed us. We ordered the Rizzati Bio Nocciola (hazelnut gelato, espresso bio, whipped cream, candied orange) and pretty much devoured it. We only wished that we had discovered this place sooner. We found Cioccolato Rizzati on our last night in Cortina. I guess we will just have to return.

Rizzati Bio Nocciola Sundae from Rizzati Cioccolato in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Stay

Europa Hotel

Europa Hotel is filled with mountain chalet charm and character but well equipped with modern day convenience. We would return here without hesitation. Europa Hotel is a 5 minute walk from the main transportation station, a 2 minute from the ski bus stop,  and a 5 minute walk to Corso Italia, the main shopping and pedestrian street in Cortina.

Europa Hotel is filled with mountain chalet charm and character but well equipped with modern day convenience. We would return here without hesitation.

The exterior of Europa Hotel in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

What We Loved

Price - I don’t know how we got such a great deal on this hotel. We must have timed our stay just right. I originally booked it on Booking.com but later found a better deal on the same room at Expedia.com so I cancelled and rebooked. That is what I love about Booking.com. They said they would match the price, but I didn’t want to wait 24 hours for the response and risk the price going up again. We rented a room with a king bed + a pullout for the girls. It had a small table and balcony overlooking the mountains. Perfection!

Breakfast - The price also included breakfast every morning for the 4 of us. The breakfast was such a great start to our activity filled days. Cappuccino, chocolate filled croissants, cheese, meat, fruit, eggs, bread, pastries, yogurt, etc. Each morning we would have an egg peeling competition before packing in the protein and heading out to conquer the day.

The breakfast was such a great start to our activity filled days.

Breakfast and views from our room at Europa Hotel in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Bathtub - I loved having a bathtub after a long day of skiing. It was a jetted tub and very long and skinny. I would have preferred a bit wider non-jetted tub but was happy to soak nonetheless.

Heated floors in the bathroom - the heated bathroom floors were lovely after a cold day outside. Just be sure to close the bathroom door or it will heat your room as well.

Views - Our room had impeccable views of the snowcapped mountains both from our balcony and the sitting room windows. It was so nice to wake up and see the sun shining down on the mountaintops.

Our room had impeccable views of the snowcapped mountains both from our balcony and the sitting room windows.

Location - Within easy walking distance to both the bus station and Corso Italia it really was perfect. The street that Hotel Europa sits on is quite busy and the cars go faster than it seems they should, so be sure to cross the street at the designated crosswalk signs.

Dog Friendly - Fletcher approved.

The lobby fireplace at Europa Hotel in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Lobby fireplace - This fireplace and sitting area was a lovely spot to unwind and connect with other visitors after a day filled with activities. Grab a drink from the bar, sit back, and enjoy.

Elevator - Many accomodations in Europe do not have an elevator, so this was a wonderful luxury after a long day of skiing.

Shop

Cortina Cooperation 

The Cortina Coop was a fun experience. Unsuspecting from the outside, this building had 5 levels of varying shops: groceries, pet shop, kitchenware, outdoor apparel, fabric and sewing, toys, undergarments, hardware, etc. 

Corso Italia 

We love any street without vehicles, and Corso Italia fit the bill. Lined with high dollar shopping, restaurants, cafes, and bars, you will surely enjoy a stroll here every day and evening (always stroll at dusk in Europe) during your stay.

Skipping down Corso Italia, the Cortina Cooperation, Noel's 10 Euro sweater purchase at the Piazzale Marconi Market in Cortina d'Ampezzo Italy

Piazzale Marconi Market 

We stumbled upon the Piazzale Marconi Market before catching the bus to Venice Friday morning. It’s located at the main transportation center parking lot and currently takes place every Tuesday and Friday morning. With only 25 minutes before our bus departed we had to shop fast. Noel and I each purchased a sweater for 10 Euro, a bargain and souvenir favorite of ours. We wished we had more time to peruse the goods here….fruit, flowers, veggies, snow gear, hiking shoes, boots, robes, rotisserie chicken and more.

Play

We love to ski, so that’s why we came, however, there are plenty of other activities to keep you occupied if desired. To view some possible day excursions check out these options offered through Snow Service for Winter and Summer. I personally am intrigued by the sled descents after a snowmobile ride up and dinner. This sounds so fun! You can also ice skate at the local ice den or purchase a foot pass and take a ride up the lift to enjoy lunch with the breathtaking views before coming back down.

If you don't ski, you can purchase a foot pass and take a ride up the lift to enjoy lunch with breathtaking views before riding back down.

Equipment and Apparel Rental

I highly recommend renting equipment when traveling abroad. Since we were taking a 1 month tour of Italy, we knew we couldn’t bring our skis, boots, and poles on and off trains, buses, and ferries, and we were struggling with the thought of an extra full size suitcase for our outerwear. We knew some of our locations required a climb of 80+ stairs to enter with no elevator provided. After further research, we were happy to discover the option for outerwear rental as well. (Shipping a suitcase of outerwear from Italy to the USA costs almost $500...what?) 

With three rental locations, Snow Service was incredibly convenient, and they included delivery service to our hotel’s ski storage area.

Helmets, skis, and a happy customer at Snow Service in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

We decided to rent through Snow Service and are so glad we did. With three rental locations, Snow Service was incredibly convenient, and they included delivery service to our hotel’s ski storage area. It was so great to wake up and just grab our gear after breakfast. We didn’t book our rentals in advance, but if it’s a busy season you can easily reserve your rentals online before you arrive and arrange for delivery right to your hotel. Snow Service handled everything for us from our skis, boots, and poles to our jackets, pants, gloves, helmets, and goggles. They were friendly and knowledgeable and it was fun to meet one of the owners. The service began 20 years ago with three local ski instructors. With over 20 years of experience, they were happy to recommend the best ski locations and local secrets for our visit.

What We Loved

English Speaking and Friendly Staff

Helpful Tips - recommended ski areas based on your ski level(s) and the best transportation options to the slopes

Ski Straps - I had never used these. They are so small and simple but incredibly helpful for carrying skis to and from the slopes. I need to buy some for home.

Equipment Fitting - fast, efficient, and accurate: they will have you on the slopes in no time.

Getting fitted for skis, boots, poles, helmet, gloves, jacket, goggles, and pants, 3 of 4 Snow Service bags ready to be delivered to our hotel, the label placed on all of our bags showing delivery to Europa Hotel from Snow Service (such a great feature)

Be sure to purchase the rental insurance offered. It’s a small fee considering the replacement fee if lost, stolen, or damaged.

Outerwear Rental - HUGE, did I mention how thankful I was for this option??? Be sure to purchase the insurance offered for this. It’s a small fee considering the replacement fee if lost, stolen, or damaged. We experienced 2 of the 3 and can certainly vouch for the wise investment of insurance. Chad took a tumble and ripped his pants wide open on our first day skiing, and Noel left her coat on the ski bus at the end of our first day. Fortunately, we recovered the lost jacket, but the pants could not be repaired. The Snow Service staff were helpful, gracious, and had us slope ready for day 2 in no time.

Hotel Delivery - You’re going to love this feature!

Ski/Snowboard

If you want to ski or snowboard, Cortina will provide plenty of opportunities for your adventure. You can purchase a Valley Ski Pass for the areas of Cortina d’Ampezzo/S. Vito D C./Auronzo/Misurina, or if you feel like conquering the world, you can by a Dolomites Super Ski Pass which includes access to 12 ski resorts, 450 chairlifts, and over 1200 kilometers of slopes. We only had 2 days to ski, so we chose the Valley Ski Pass and explored the areas of Tofana, 5 Torri, and Faloria.

Skiing in the valley of Cortina d'Ampezzo, lunch with a view at Rifugio Duca d'Aosta

Tofana - We began our ski experience at Tofana and we were immediately impressed by the views. If you’re used to skiing on the East Coast this would probably be a preferred location, as the runs were hard packed and fast. After lunch, the sun started creating a sort of slush mix that we didn’t love, so we decided to ski over to the shuttle stop for 5 Torri.

5 Torri - Since we live in Montana, we were thrilled to find some powder up on 5 Torri. A glorious after lunch discovery that provided plenty of smiles and excitement. Of course, the amazing views continued here as well.

Since we live in Montana, we were thrilled to find some powder up on 5 Torri. A glorious after lunch discovery that provided plenty of smiles and excitement.

Falloria - We decided to try out Falloria for our second day of skiing. Due to a lost coat and ski pass incident we were down two members, but the adventure had to go on. Falloria, as it turns out, was the clear winner if powder and off piste exploration is on your to do list. I personally cannot attest to this, however, there is some pretty convincing video footage if you need proof.

Church Hunt 

In addition to the activity options mentioned above, you could also enjoy an afternoon church hunt. Since Noel left her jacket and coincidentally her ski pass on the ski bus, we unfortunately missed our second day of skiing, but had fun exploring the local churches and working up an appetite.

Various churches we found throughout Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy