Cortina d'Ampezzo - Italian ski resort (8,000 inhabitants)
Situated in the Ampezzo valley, Cortina d'Ampezzo is the most important tourist area of the Dolomite mountain range. It's a long, narrow village surrounded by richly forested mountains. From Cortina d'Ampezzo you can see the high peaks of Pomagagnon (2,450 m), Monte Cristallo (3,216 m), Sorapis (3,205 m), Croda da Lago (2,701 m) and the highest, Le Tofane (3,243 m).
The nice climate and many sun hours make it a perfect spot for a winter sport vacation. Cortina has many good ski slopes, ice rinks and an artificial ice stadium, built for the Winter Olympics in 1956. Originally, the Olympics would have been held here in 1944, but World War II came in the way.
Except for the stadium, many other features and installations date from the event, now supporting the blossoming of Cortina d'Ampezzo as an important ski resort. This doesn't mean the town is desolate in summertime, when the snow has vanished. The area is also perfect for long walks through the mountains. Cortina is entirely aimed at tourists, consisting mainly of hotels, chalets and apartment buildings. The centre is modernized, but the architects have tried to keep the character of the average Italian mountain village. The 19th century bell tower is 76 meters high and provides an overwhelming overview over the area. The church tower is a typical Italian campanile, separated from the church building itself.
The emblem of the Cortina Tourist Office is a squirrel, referring to the Cortina mountain guide union 'Scoiatolli' (meaning squirrels). In the 1930's, its members climbed all mountains in the Dolomites that until then had not been conquered by anyone yet. The mountain guides of Cortina d'Ampezzo still have a strong international reputation.
Cortina d'Ampezzo lies in the Italian province of Belluno, at a height of 1,231 meters above sea level.