The history of Cortina d’Ampezzo is touched by legend and drama. There are testimonies of ancient Roman settlements as well as traces of the Barbarians. The territory was originally a land of farmers, thanks to its protected and safe location in the Dolomite mountains. However it was forestry and timber trade that drove the economic development of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Thanks to Cortina’s strategic geographical location on the national border, it played a key role in the communication between Venice and Innsbruck, first for the Republic of Venice, and then for 400 years, for the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Towards the mid-1800s the railway arrived at its borders, bringing the first wealthy Anglo-Saxon, German and Russian travellers to discover its beautiful mountains. Thanks to newspaper articles and guidebooks written by these pioneering mountaineers Cortina was soon known all over the world. Thus the first hotels and tourist facilities opened, transforming Cortina d'Ampezzo into the true capital of the Dolomites.
An important part of First World War history was written on the mountains of Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the areas of Lagazuoi, 5 Torri and Sass di Stria. These locations, the scene of tragic battles between Italians and Austrians, have been restored and transformed into testimonies of the Great War.
The result of this major restoration project is a vast outdoor museum of the First World War, open for visitors all year round. Along the hiking paths and the ski slopes, just moments away from the mountain refuges and climbing walls in the heart of the Dolomites, it is today possible to visit the tunnels from the war in Lagazuoi, experience first-hand the trenches and the positions in the 5 Torri, and enter the restored fort of Valparola, all transformed into the Museum of the Great War in the Dolomites.
In winter the Great War sites are accessible to skiers thanks to the ski lifts, but it is in summer that the full potential and charm of the areas is realized, as the museums offer the perfect combination of nature and history.
Accessible on foot or by bike, the sites of the First World War and the traces of history that still remain, are there to be explored and discovered along the many paths and tracks that bind them together.
The now so famous pale mountains were rather mysterious and unknown until the beginning of the 20th century. One may wonder how it has been possible for Cortina to become Queen of the Dolomites in such a short time, and sport has undoubtedly played a major role in her rise to international fame.
The 1950s marked the beginning of the golden era of the Ampezzo valley. Hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics, the first games broadcast live on television, firmly established Cortina as a prestigious location for winter sports and a privileged stage for La Dolce Vita.
Today Cortina d'Ampezzo is a much loved international tourist destination and venue for many international sport events, having hosted 25 editions of the Women’s Alpine World Cup, numerous Nordic skiing events, the Snowboard FIS World Cup, the Freeride World Cup, as well as many other major events.
The town has approximately 6,000 inhabitants, swelling to nearly 50,000 in high season. Its reputation as a world class tourist destination is the result of a tenacious and conscious development with emphasis on preserving its natural landscapes and pure air.ï»¿