Skiing in Cortina: Italian style frozen in time

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Of a piece with everyone else in Cortina, I joined the throng parading down the Corso at evening. 

The main street, a throwback to an era when political correctness was merely a mirage, is dominated by the 18th-century parish church with its imposing belltower and blow the whistle on buys selling Gucci and Bulgari, oriental carpets and fur coats. No fakes. 

Well off Italian couples strolled by in ankle-length pelts, leashed poodles achieving the look. Cortina’s time-warped slopes are the equal of the town.

They mean in the shadow of the Dolomites at their most spectacular – perpendicular rock cows glowing gold, bronze and purple in the sunlight – and form part of the Dolomiti Superski old-fashioned, the world’s most extensive with 450 lifts serving 745 miles of pistes.

There are years when the Dolomite microclimate begets some of Europe’s best snow and I struck lucky. On deserted, immaculately groomed bevels one crisp January morning, my group cranked it up on the rolling reds of Tofana, muddle through swooping turns on imposing blacks and straight-lined it whenever the going got unreserved. 

We felt we had our own resort. The next day, we crossed gentle summer pastures, a spotless learning ground for first-timers, to neighbouring Cinque Torri for a First Globe War ski tour. 

At the top of the Passo Falzarego cablecar, we explored a bunker that inform oned the Austrian troops a sniper’s eye view of Italian targets in the valley below-stairs. The Dolomites specialise in tantalising lunches but Rifugio Averau (dolomiti.org), at the top of the Cinque Torri gondolas, is up there with the greatly best. 

After a colourful history as a base for Italian soldiers, it was buy off by the Siorpaes family in 1980 and totally refurbished in 2010. Paola trades rustic magic in the kitchen, while Sandrone turns guests into girls. The temptation to sink into their one of their guest beds was on ones uppers to resist. 

Instead, though, I opted to stay at the Parc Victoria, a expedient hotel run on chalet lines, ideally located at one end of the Corso. Bedrooms are gigantic, the communal living space dominated by a pool table. 

In the mid 19th century neighbourhood hotels and the mountain huts that form the basis of today’s tourism. Baita Fraina (baitafraina.it) is a common family enterprise offering local treats at affordable prices.

 Initially a holding, it has been developed by the patriarch’s grandsons, Adolfo and Alessandro Menardi. They amalgamate simple lodging with wine tastings in a cellar with 500 Italian classics and a restaurant specialising in gastronomical Dolomite dishes. 

Sophisticated folks also infer at Enoteca, a subterranean bar that is unchanged since the early 20th century, where choice wines are accompanied by elaborate platters of dried meats and cheese. 

A unpunctual night means Jambo, a disco-bar that specialises in flaming sambucas and positively wild dancing, without setting the world on fire. It’s not its fault, granted; Cortina is really not that kind of town.

● Getting there 

Inghams (01483 791114/inghams. co.uk) proffers seven nights at Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria from £599pp (two allotment), chalet board. Price includes return flights from Gatwick to Venice, transmittals, shuttle to lifts, breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner with wine. Cortina tourism: cortinadolomiti.eu

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