Snapper Riley frustrated by cloud in super-scenic Cortina

26th February 2015, by Ben Riley

Cortina from the south-west on Thursday morning

Cortina from the south-west on Thursday morning

This is our first bulletin from a series of Italian and Austrian resorts that editor Gill and I are touring by car – he in charge of words, I in charge of pictures. First impressions of Cortina: very pretty traditional town, with a great potential shot of the church and towering Dolomite crags at the far end of the pedestrian main street.

Falling snow on the Brenner Pass road from Austria on Tuesday night (and an accumulation on the pine trees on the drive up to Cortina) promised reasonable piste conditions for the Wednesday morning.

We had some administrative faffing to do on Wednesday morning, resulting in a slightly late start, so we devoted the short day to the smaller of Cortina’s two sectors, the Cristallo/Faloria area. Light snow falling from gathering cloud and overnight snow on groomed pistes that quickly got bumped up provided challenging conditions.

Even flat light cannot detract from the spectacular scenery of the Dolomites. Love those trees on the lower slopes when the light is poor. The morning unfolded with a splendid series of testing true reds – something of a local speciality, I would say.

But much to the chagrin of editor Gill, the black run off the chair at Forcella Staunies was closed – we were obliged to leave the chair at the mid point and take the red. That elusive black remains on his bucket list.

Spirits were lifted by lunch at Capanna Tondi, the mountain restaurant that is the current Editors’ Choice. Pleasingly varied menu, lively table service and not unreasonably priced. Starters generous and sufficient to share. Decent wine by the carafe; just as well, because deteriorating weather dictated a longer than planned stay. The restaurant’s position as Editors’ Choice can be confirmed.

We still had time to try the three relatively short but still justifiably black runs off Faloria’s main fast chair. Day one meant tiring legs by this point but we were unable to resist another hard red down to a lower level which left us with barely enough time to ride the chairs back to the village cable car. Obligingly we were twice allowed through covered control gates to catch the last chair.

Cortina provided a marvellous first day. Trek from Calais forgotten. Great mountain scenery even in poor weather. Hard to catch on ‘film’ in Wednesday’s cloudy conditions, but fortunately the sun has appeared this morning, as shown by my photo, taken on the road to today’s destination, Laguzuoi and Cinque Torre.

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