- Think Italy, with a touch of Austria.
- Imagine snowy mountains – and not just any mountains, but the rugged Dolomites.
- Picture a quaint and hospitable town.
- Cortina is the town you envision.
Cortina was host of the 1956 Winter Olympics and is a center for summer as well as winter sports. It’s nestled in the Dolomite Mountains – craggy and spired peaks in northeast Italy. The area was Austrian before World War I and that is evident even today in the food and architecture. It’s well set up for tourists with many restaurants, hotels, upscale shopping, helpful visitors center, and attractions.
Time to see Cortina. Just steps away from our hotel, the town square presents a classic and formal look, except for an over-sized carved wooden figure, sitting on a chair. A public space transformed by whimsy!
What show attracted the most attention in town? Classic cars. The cars were driven in a procession through town and into the square, finally parking on a long red carpet. Every car was shining brightly. The crowd leaned in to get a closer look.
This was our 2nd day in Italy and we were tired! After a simple dinner we turned in early.
The next day, we took a “warm up” hike. Peering out the hotel window, we saw “weather” moving in, so we got moving. The hike started with a ride in the gondola up the mountain. Our plan was to hike down for some hours before stopping for lunch at a hut partway down the mountain.
We were off to a good start on the hike – going through forests, over streams, passing cows in the occasional field. It was a fine hike. That is, until the rain started. First came the occasional drops. After lunch it picked up until we found ourselves walking in the worst downpour we’ve ever experienced hiking. We had anticipated rain so we had full rain gear on but that was not enough. Within minutes we were drenched, the rain seeping inside until we were drenched…and we still had miles of hiking back to Cortina.
Just as we approached town the rain let up. We got a good laugh at our truly water-soaked appearance as we approached chic Cortina. Now we were ready for the rugged Dolomites!