Cortina d’Ampezzo — Jewel of the Dolomites

By now you’ve seen my descriptions and photographs of all the great rides we’ve been doing in the Dolomites with Ajax Dempsey of Alta Quota Adventures.  We’ve been staying in Cortina d’Ampezzo which has served as an excellent base camp for all these rides.

Not only are the rides from here good, but the town is charming.  Cortina got its start as a mountain destination when it hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics.  Since then, the little village has become a tourist magnet.  Like St. Moritz, it is the playground of the rich and famous and has all the amenities the wealthy demand, but it is much more than St. Moritz.  First, the riding is better.  Second, the town is more authentic and more fun.

Let’s take a quick look at the town.  Here is a view of the mountains we descended when we did the Tre Cime loop, taken from the edge of town.

From here, cars head down the hill onto a one-way circuit around the town and pedestrains are treated to a car-free walkway.

Old-town Cortina has no shortage of shopping opportunities.  My favorite store is the Cooperativa.  It is a multi-story (5?) department store with everything from groceries, books, souveneirs, clothing, house wares, and outdoor/athletic supplies.  (Gee, I should have taken a better photo than this.)

There are also several more sports stores selling a great selection of hiking and climbing and other outdoors equipment.

Fine clothing retailers abound.  The selection of high-end clothing is amazing.  I, myself, am very satisfied with the clothes offered at la Cooperativa but it’s fun watching people shop.

There are many stores selling fine decorative items for the home.

Antique stores abound.

Jewelery stores, too…

including this one…

where I bought a silver heart-shaped box (like this one but smaller, much less ornate, no wood, silver only)

to put the ring in when I proposed to my wife.

Gentlemen, you could take your wives here.  If you don’t, you might miss her terribly.

Every town has a stately old church.

This one is remarkably beautiful inside.

Near the church is a very nice delicatessen.

Thinking of food reminds me of the great lunch we had here.

We ate at a place that specializes in Prosciutto and cuts it to order from whole legs of cured ham and serves is in folded slices with bread and mozarella cheese.  The bread is served in a brown paper bag.

While we at at the Dok di San Daniele, the place to see and be seen is the Hotel de Poste.

Cortina has an abundance of great restaurants that serve authentic and delicious local Italian food, so there is no shortage of options for evening dining.

La Tavernetta is one of Ajax’ favorites.  It is comfortable, quiet, and the food is authentic and creative.  I really love places that are down to earth and dish out amazing food.

Here’s our waiter explaining the menu to us.

I chose a filet of pork with wild mushrooms.  It was delicious.

After dinner we retired to our hotel, Hotel Corona, which is situated against the mountains, a very short walk from town, and right at the base of the climb up to Passo Falzarego and Passo Giau.

We stayed in Cortina for 5 days and 6 nights.  Most bicycle tours go from town-to-town staying only one night per town.  The advantage is that you get to see more, but the disadvantage is that you have to pack up each day.  Also, if the weather is poor, you still have to ride to get to the next hotel.

Cortina beaks the pattern.  There are enough great rides you can do from here that you don’t have to move every day.  Sure, there are towns that have 2-3 days of good riding, but there are very few where you could stay a week without running out of riding options.  And if riding isn’t enough for you, there are easily a few weeks of hiking options in Cortina.  Plus, the town is fabulous.

About bikealps

avid cyclist and photographer
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4 Responses to Cortina d’Ampezzo — Jewel of the Dolomites

  1. Carolyn Doran says:

    Thanks for posting the note about the Coop. I still have my shoes and slippers and lettuce bags I bought there in 1995. You are so lucky to have been there so many times.

  2. Scott Lewis says:

    Alan – simply amazing location. Sounds like you’re having a one in a lifetime cycling trip. Thanks for sharing your fun with us! Scott Lewis –

  3. Pingback: 2012 Giro d’Italia — Best Ever? | bikealps

  4. John Dozier says:

    Alan, We were in Cortina last year and I visited a great bike shop that is not far from the center of town, maybe to the east of the Cortina town center, at the bottom of a hill.

    Do you know of it, please?

    Thanks much. Love you pics, writing, enthusiasm for life!!
    John Dozier

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