Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

Best Ski Resorts in Europe
Ski Like A European
Europeans tend to get above the treeline early, ski in high bowls all day, eat at wonderful on-mountain restaurants, and don't return to the valley resort until day's end. To beat the crowds, get up on the mountain as soon after 9 a.m. as you can, have lunch before noon or after 2 p.m., and don't feel shy about riding the cable car down to the valley at the of the day. Your legs will be mush, and skiing the hard snow near the shaded valley floor isn't all that much fun.
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Cortina, as everyone shorthands it, is the leading resort of the magnificent Dolomite Region—in fact, the leading resort of all of Italy. Stylish, chic, and located in a magnificent mountain range, whose summits are crowned by dramatic rock formations, this historic village has turned into one of the classiest and costliest of all European resorts.

It boasts a wide variety of slopes for all abilities, matched with an abundance of off-snow activities, that makes it a popular winter getaway for all Italians who want to see and be seen.

For titled and just plain rich Italians, Cortina has long been the resort of choice, so this is the place where you'll see furs and Ferraris, Jean-Claude Killy Rolexes and Maseratis. Even if the town is crowded, the slopes might be relatively empty, because nearly three-quarters of the winter guests come for clean air, sunshine, and shopping rather than skiing. In lively Cortina, dining, shopping, walking the poodle, or languishing over an espresso is as much a part of the scene as skiing and snowboarding.

Still, skiing is at Cortina's core. Its lift companies participate in the Dolomiti Superskipass, which is good on some 450 lifts in resorts, large and small, across the Italian Alps. Cortina (http://www.dolomiti.org/dengl/Cortina/ci/index.html), at the eastern end of region, is the largest and the most famous. However, it is not connected with other resorts skiable on the pass, and further, its own five major ski areas aren't linked with each other, which means that the layout is somewhat fragmented.

The Dolomites' cliffy outcroppings severely limit skiable summit terrain, but they also give the mountains their stunning beauty. The most famous ski area is the Tofana, topping out at some 10,634 feet, with steep terrain on top and the resort's best beginner slopes at the bottom. Connected with it is Socrepes, Cortina's largest ski area. Across the valley are two other ski areas, Mietres, and Faloria, known for huge snowfields high on the mountains.


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