While there aren’t many among us hardworking mortal folk who can afford to bask in the lifestyle of the rich and famous every day (unless you really are rich and famous, in which case I guess you can!), there’s no harm in splashing out every now and again. So, if you feel the need to escape for a short, luxurious break, whether it’s for skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the glamorous northern Italian resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the ideal spot to get a taste of the lifestyle to which you’d love to become accustomed.
A Celebrity Favourite
Nestled into the spectacular mountainous terrain of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is on the hit list of countless celebrities and members of the wealthy European social set, and its charming streets are lined with designer boutiques, high-end jewellers and five-star dining establishments.
If you’re a foodie, this is definitely your kind of place, so here are some of the better places to eat out in town. Oh, and keep your camera phone at the ready because not only are they our favourites, many of them are also bonafide celebrity hangouts – and it’s much easier to play paparazzi when you’re pretending to take photos of your food.
A “refugio” is the term the Italians use for the rustic huts that dot the mountainside serving up hearty traditional Tyrolean cuisine to cater for hungry skiers. These are often hidden gastronomical gems, with some of the best food in northern Italy.
Refugio Averau: Set in the shadows of the Averau peak, the award-winning Refugio Averau doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this humble log hut serves up some amazing cuisine. Specialities like venison steaks with caper berries, spinach ravioli stuffed with walnuts and parpadelle with porcini go down like a well-waxed ski, and if you’re looking to make friends at home a trifle on the green side with envy, snap a selfie against the peaks as the sun sets over the Dolomites…job done.
Rifugio Scotoni: Just off the Stella Ronda circuit between Cortina and Arraba, Refugio Scotoni can only be reached by foot or on skis – but the effort to get there is well worth it and makes the food taste just that much better! It’s renowned for its hearty Tyrolean cooking, and the mixed grill cooked over a log fire is a standout (hope you’re hungry!). It can get quite busy, but the turnover is pretty fast as the skiers get back to the slopes – although it is a pretty good place to linger over an extra beer.
A Touch of Après Class
The après ski scene is as far from the notion of tabletop dancing and drunken tourists as you can get. The town is awash with sophisticated bars filled with beautiful, immaculately dressed people sipping expensive wine and cocktails. Just how you like it…
Enoteca: Drop into Enoteca after a day on the slopes for some cheese, wine and celebrity spotting! This little bar gets quite lively but it never loses its chi chi ambience. Set in an ancient building, the vaulted ceilings and worn stone walls set the perfect scene for a bottle of wine and a prosciutto and cheese platter. (Tip: the cosy back room makes a fantastic place for a holiday snap as it’s like something out of a medieval fairy-tale.)
Jambo: If you’re looking to stay up late and take your dancing shoes out for a spin, head to Jambo. Set on the edge of town, this is definitely the place to see and be seen. With live music, DJs and a very, very fashionable clientele, dress up, show up and drink up in the most sophisticated club this side of Monaco.
A Delightful Dinner
Once the sun goes down the town’s fine dining establishments come into their own – with some Michelin-starred restaurants in such demand that bookings are made months ahead.
Tivoli: Renowned as the best fine-dining restaurant in town, the Michelin-starred Tivoli, at the foot of Tofana, certainly lives up to its reputation. Book a table out on the rooftop terrace overlooking the Dolomites and dine on dishes prepared from the freshest seafood from Venice, wild game and delicious local produce. Tivoli has a delightfully rustic ambience, but the food is anything but humble.
El Toulà: Like many of the local restaurants, El Toulà is not ostentatious (it’s set in a converted barn on the outskirts of town), but within the pages of its extensive menu lies a little taste of heaven. An icon of Cortina since 1964, El Toulà is a staunch favourite of visiting celebrities and foodies. Whether you choose a table in the cosy dining room or outside on the terrace, the majestic vista of the Dolomites is the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s innovative twist on the traditional.
Al Camin: The wonderful welcome you’ll receive from Chef Fabio Pompanin and his wife in the picturesque setting of Al Camin is the precursor to what could well be your favourite meal in Cortina. Specialising in homemade pasta, high quality meat and game and the most decadent homemade desserts in the Dolomites, your meal can be accompanied by a bottle of one of the hundred or so labels they carry.
Eat, Drink and Be Stylish
There’s no shortage of excellent places to dine out in Cortina and you just never know who you might bump into over a vino and a plate of pasta. So keep your eyes peeled, your camera at the ready and your celebrity radar on!
How to Get to Cortina d’Ampezzo
With a flight time of as little as 90 minutes from the UK, Cortina d’Ampezzo is ideal for a short, glamorous break. You can choose to fly into several of airports including Innsbruck (INN), Venice (VCE) and Bolzano (BZO), with budget airlines offering regular scheduled services on all three routes.
No matter which airport you arrive at, the most convenient way of getting directly to the resort is on a pre-booked, fixed price transfer with Shuttle Direct. The picturesque journey will give you an opportunity to experience the beauty of the Italian Alps and, from Bolzano for example, the transfer will take under two hours to the door of your hotel. If you’re bringing your own ski equipment, if you advise us at the time of booking, we’ll carry it for free.
Where to Stay:
Faloria Mountain Spa Resort: With stunning views over the mountains and stylishly appointed rooms with all the little luxuries, the Faloria Mountain Spa Resort makes the perfect backdrop for the selfie to end all selfies! The magnificence of the surroundings is only eclipsed by the scope of its facilities, like free Wi-Fi, onsite restaurant and a free wellness centre including Turkish bath, pool, sauna and Kneip treatment bath.
Grand Hotel Savoia: Grand by name and grand by nature, the sophisticated Grand Hotel Savoia is set within a historic building in the heart of town. With a refined ambience and luxury accoutrements throughout, the hotel includes a relaxing wellness centre, free Wi-Fi and spacious, contemporary rooms with the unique Italian charm.
Savoia Palace: The panoramic views and low-key rustic décor of the Savoia Palace are just the beginning of the warm, Italian hospitality you can expect in this stylish establishment. With spacious apartments, an unbeatable position and discounted use of the luxurious Spa Savoia Cortina, including pool, Turkish bath and sauna, you’ll feel right at home, yet so far away.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct is one of the world’s most trusted names in airport transfers and our range and services is second to none. Whether you’re looking for a budget shared transfer or a convenient private service just for you, our wealth of experience and fleet of comfortable vehicles ensures we can meet your every need.
Shuttle Direct offers the most competitive rates from any cruise port, train station or airport, and if you book online before you leave, our experienced team will take care of all your onward travel arrangements without any hassle or unnecessary expense.