Hello baby boomer travelers! I am here to take you on an adventure to Northern Italy; Cortina D’Ampezzo to be exact. Located in the heart of the Dolomites, this destination is popular with outdoor enthusiasts who want to enjoy Italy’s natural beauty. Here boomers will discover world-class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and amazing scenery. Just a four-hour journey by train from Venice, Cortina is the perfect Italian getaway to find crowd-free relaxation.
For much of the past century Cortina has remained a popular destination for Italy’s rich and famous, achieving international fame when it hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics. It’s stunning scenery was also the backdrop in two feature films; The Pink Panther (1963) and For Your Eyes Only (1981).
I first came to Cortina in the summer of 2008. Having just spent a week in the crowded streets of Venice, I certainly welcomed the wide open spaces and fresh air. The city lies in a valley surrounded by towering mountains and rolling greens hills dotted with picturesque Bavarian-style houses.
How To Get To Cortina
I came to Cortina by train/bus from Venice. The journey by train first took us to the lake town of Calazo di Cadora, and from there we transferred to a bus for the last leg into Cortina. The journey took roughly four hours and was quite pleasant; I soon lost all interest in the book I was reading as we traveled deeper and deeper into the mountains.
An alternative route is to take a bus from Bolzano, which is serviced by a regional airport.
The summer months are considered off-season in Cortina, but you’ll still find plenty of tourists in the area enjoying the outdoors. Boomers may find, however, that English is not as widely spoken as you may be used to in Venice, Florence, or Rome. Many of the tourists that come here are from neighboring Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, so any German you know will serve you well here.
The city itself is spread out among rolling green hills, with a city center that includes many quality restaurants and shops. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to start exploring as soon as possible; the surrounding mountains are just begging for a closer inspection!
Day 1: Cinque Torri
Not be be confused with Cinque Terra, Cinque Torri (Five Towers) is an easily accessible mountain hike just south of Cortina. Getting there by bus was quite easy from the city center, and we found numerous short hikes in the area to explore. The peak tops out at 2700m (8500ft) and offers stunning views of the surrounding valley and Cortina below.
For a special treat we enjoyed a lasagna lunch at the famous Rifugio Nuvolau. This famous mountain hut was built literally on top of a mountain in the 1880’s and offers an unequaled 360º view of the area. You can even rent a room here, but its popularity requires interested parties to book months in advance.
● While hiking boots are not absolutely required, definitely bring a pair of comfortable shoes to walk in.
● Bring rain gear and warm clothing. Even in the summer the wind can be quite strong and rain storms will move in very quickly.
● Definitely stay on the posted trails lest you fall off one of the many 1000ft cliffs.
Day 2: Mountain Biking
The next day we rented bikes to explore more of the area surrounding Cortina. The best part? All we had to worry about was going down. Someone had the smart idea to utilize ski lifts that would otherwise be idle during the summer. All you need is a day-pass and you can go up, down, and sideways as much as you want. There are guided tours for all levels, but we decided to venture out and make our own trail.
● Bring your own lunch and plenty of water.
● Bring your camera. Baby boomers will want to remember this day!
Day 3: Relax
After two full days of hiking and biking, we felt we deserved a solid day of rest. We explored more of the city and sampled many of the excellent restaurants that we found. Like the rest of Italy, the food here is amazing, and what better way to enjoy the majestic Dolomites than to gaze upon them just over the rim of our wine glass.They’re there, we’re here, and life is good. Il dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing)!
Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about Cortina. If you are planning a trip and would like to ask me further questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below or contact me via email at [email protected]
Andrew, thank you for introducing our boomer readers to a special corner of Italy. I can see that Alan and I will need to book a return trip to explore Cortina D’Ampezzo.
If you’re interested in teaching, studying or volunteering abroad, be sure to check out Andrew’s site, Go!Overseas.