Ah Italy, is there any place more lust-worthy in Europe? I mean, Europe has stacks of gorgeous places on offer but there’s just something about Italy isn’t there? All at once romantic, historical and omg, pasta.
I’ve had a few short breaks over the years — to Milan, Naples and Venice — but I’ve never explored. It’s been creeping onto my wander-list recently though, and places like Puglia, Emilia Romagna and Sardinia are all at the top of said list. I don’t know if it’s because I am a total carb-fiend, but whenever I think of Italy I smile and imagine my full belly after yet another delicious bowl of pasta. Probably the damn Eat, Pray, Love effect too……gah, that film.
[ctt template=”4″ link=”0eVOf” via=”no” ]A few reasons why you should go skiing in Cortina, #Italy! via @wanderluceblog #travel #stylishtravel[/ctt]
So when I got the opportunity to travel to Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. Not least because…food. But also because It’s a place I’d never heard of before, despite the fact it’s only couple of hours drive from Venice, nestled at the base of the Dolomites.
So, why should you go? Let me count the ways……
It’s closer than you think
If you’re anything like me, you like to travel long haul and stay for several months. But life sometimes intervenes and you just need a proper mini-break.
The ideal mini-break is convenient right? So you can maximise your holidaying time and minimise the boring travel bit. Well in that case Cortina has you covered. A two hour flight from London to either Treviso or Marco Polo (easyJet, Ryanair and BA all fly direct to one of the two airports) and you can grab a two hour Express bus from the airport (€37).
From where the bus drops you off it is less than two minutes walk to the town centre, which is a charming medieval hub of activity. We stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Ambra Cortina, which I would thoroughly recommend.
From flight to aperitivo at the local bar, it took us less than four hours. Not bad for a quickie weekender, right?
You can learn to ski in the most beautiful setting
Cortina is a great place to learn to ski, but there were also a bit array of slopes for the intermediate skier too. I don’t know too much about skiing, as I’ve only been snowboarding once before, and I managed to break a rib 😉 This time around, being pregnant, I chose not to ski and was hoping Oli could hit the slopes and do some research on my behalf. However, for whatever reason our host decided to tell us we couldn’t ski due to something or other and decided to drive us up through the Dolomites instead.
Although I was disappointed, the views were absolutely incredible! The Dolomites were spectacular, and it was awesome to see you could do so much other than just ski. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and there are plenty of really clearly marked walking trails if you want to get your hike on (my preference over skiing).
It’s cheaper than you think
Given the current state of the Pound against the Euro, finding value has become more important than ever. I have to qualify any statement I make with this though: “I live in London.” If that doesn’t tell you I have a lower base than most for finding value when I travel, nothing will. Does that even make sense? If not, then hear this: London is damn expensive, so err’where else is good value in comparison.
BUT. We had literally just got back from Stockholm five days prior so that probably tempered things a little because dammmmmmn Scandinavia is as close to London prices as you can get. And in some instances, it was more expensive.
Happily though, I can say with confidence that Cortina is GREAT value for money. Skiing is always expensive wherever you go, and Cortina is comparable to a French or Austrian resort. But where you will really save money is in the town itself where you can enjoy boutique accommodation, like I did, for a snip of the price you’d pay anywhere else.
Food was also BANGING value for money and, for goodness sakes, it’s flipping Italy! So you can expect a pizza as big as your head for less than £6. And, obviously, ALL THE WINE PLEASE.
The Dolomites are BEAUTIFUL
I can’t even. They are amazing. Just so, so, so stunning. Where we stayed, at the Hotel Ambra Cortina, we had an an amazing balcony with what was tantamount to a panoramic view of the snow topped mountains.
We took a walk around the town and it never failed to make me gasp when you would see the mountains peep through into shot. They were kinda attention seeking you know?!
Alpine pursuits include delicious food
It being Italy, you can obviously expect delicious pizza, risotto and pasta. And lots of fish too. Oooooh and yummy aperitivo with cured meats. Oooooooh and coffee served standing up in the coffee house. Amazing!
But alongside all this, Cortina has a really unique food style. If you head on up the mountain you’ll find what’s known as ‘refuges’ which are super informal restaurants, originally for tired hikers in need of a good feed. Now you’ll find skiers in their droves, families, couples having a romantic Alpine date, you name it — all chowing down on delicious home cooked food.
The grub isn’t refined, and you can expect a lot more carb, a lot more cheese all washed down with a mountain ale. Or water — which, let me tell you, was DAMN fresh.
Have you been to Cortina?