So early Winter 2016 wasn’t exactly known for a lot of snow, or exceptional ski conditions. *I have to mention that my husband and I weren’t experienced skiers at this point, so we didn’t really know what that even meant. (Tyler and I grew up in Michigan, and though the mitten state is our home and known for SO many wonderful things, skiing isn’t really one of them.) Exploring Italy has been a major bucket list item for me, and wintertime in Europe means skiing, so about 48 hours after landing in Germany, we loaded up the pup, and drove with our good friends to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy for the holiday. From the Stuttgart area, Cortina is about a 6-hour drive through the stunning Dolomites, and although the jet lag and my anti-nausea medication (morning sickness and road trips are not a great mix!) kept me snoozing for most of the drive, I wanted to wake up once the mountains were in view to get into the spirit. The Dolomites are truly spectacular, Italian “rest-stops” and gas stations are like cute coffee shops –one of which had the most amazing case of charcuterie—and cappuccinos became my new favorite thing. It just kept getting better and better as we drove into Cortina, with the adorable village at the edge of these gorgeous mountains (and ski jump from the 1956 Winter Olympics visible from the road!)
Cute shops, cafes, hotels, and restaurants all line the main street.
We were particularly lucky with our HomeAway which was a short walk from all the goings on of the village. With 4 adults, and 1 50lb dog, it was the perfect size and included access to a grassy area which is key for us when bringing the pup along. With two bedrooms this spot would also be great for small families.
View from the living room window of our HomeAway
Despite the poor natural conditions, the mountain was making snow and the slopes were well covered. There was a ski bus to the lifts, however we opted to drive and there was ample parking for our small SUV. Between runs we stopped at the mountain top restaurant, Capanna Ra Valles 2470 m, and had pizza I still compare others to. Amazing views, delicious bites, perfect location. Capanna Ra Valles gets my pic for top après ski spot, and top casual eats.
View from Capanna Ra Valles 2470m
After spending Christmas Eve on the slopes and forgetting to make dinner reservations (whoops…) we did a TripAdvisor search to find Il Vizietto di Cortina, which was a top dining highlight of the trip. The service was fabulous, they fit us right in, and the food was amazing (house made pastas!). From the Antipasto to the Tiramisu, each dish was a 10 on preparation and presentation. The restaurant was cozy and welcoming, though I’d say best suited for adults or families with older children.
Christmas Day was surprisingly busy on the streets of Cortina. Many shops and cafes were open, and vendors lined the streets with souvenirs and small goods. We picked up a few jars of my favorite Italian treat of truffle honey, which my bestie April got me hooked on (delicious with Old Cathedral Cheddar if you’re in Germany, or Old Croc back stateside). Delicious cheese plate accouterments aside, we loved watching the Italian women strolling down the promenade in their fur coats and après ski gear.
Overall, our trip to Cortina d’Ampezzo was fabulous. An easy drive (even for a small SUV), amazing food, great skiing, and even a little history.
*Eating between 7-9 PM will allow for more spontaneity in reservations, as most Italians will eat later in the evening, after 9PM.
Best Caprese: Birreria Vienna (great pizza, too!)
Best Apres-Ski/Casual Mountain Dining: Capanna Ra Valles
Best Dining Overall: Il Vizietto di Cortina
- HomeAway (apartment we stayed in is linked) wins for best value and family friendly. If you’re traveling with a group, or with multiple children, home rentals are a great option.
- Luxury – Cristallo Resort & Spa or Grand Hotel Savoia
- Location (and all around fabulous-ness)- Ambra Cortina Hotel
Rental: 2 & 2 Cortina Srl (we rented from the shop on Via Roma, wonderful staff and equipment!)