Carmen’s Corner:  Skiing in a Picturesque Setting

It’s January, when Italians take off for la Settimana Bianca, the annual ski trip! The week on the slopes in the dead of winter is as much an Italian ritual as long Sunday lunches and August at the beach. Most families ensure that their children are familiar with skiing from an early age, and one of the most popular destinations for skiing is Cortina d’Ampezzo.

An ancient town in the Dolomites, a southern extension of the Alps in northeastern Italy, Cortina is much more than a ski resort. With 5,000nfull-time residents, it is home to a picturesque duomo (cathedral) and a charming historic center with wonderful shops, cafes, and restaurants. Not just a ski resort, the town itself, with its 5,000 residents, is picturesque with its cathedral and “main street” in the historic center populated with gorgeous shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Italians usually ski in the morning, then eat their midday meal at one of the chalets on the slopes. A typical lunch might consist simply of polenta with sausage al sugo (with tomato sauce), a hearty, traditional northern dish made with cornmeal and served only in the winter. The late afternoon is reserved for the passeggiata, the center-of-town walk that provides the opportunity to show off expensive ski wear or, better yet, fur. Being seen going in and out of high-end boutiques is as important as skiing!

As to skiing itself, the 72 miles of slopes at Cortina are suitable for intermediate and advanced skiers. For whatever reason, Cortina d¹Ampezzo does not attract as many foreign visitors as some of the other ski locations and therefore remains quintessentially an Italian experience.