UNWINDING AND ENJOYMENT ON THE DOLOMITE COLS

Surrounded by the picturesque peaks of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites, the "Queen of the Dolomites" lies at 1,224 meters above sea level: Cortina d'Ampezzo. A true Alpine classic, the town effortlessly combines centuries-old traditions with legendary cycling highlights. Welcome to a colorful potpourri of traditions, history and South Tyrolean dolce vita.

Cortina d’Ampezzo isn’t called the “Queen of the Dolomites” for nothing. After all, the town in northern Italy was one of the first vacation destinations in the Alps. Moreover, the 6,000-strong community is located in the Ampezzo Valley at the foot of the most important peaks in the Dolomites. Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Marmolada and Monte Pelmo – with legendary peaks and Dolomite passes and some 700 kilometers of MTB routes, you really do have plenty of choice here. The location is simply perfect for both mountain biking and dream rides on the asphalt of the challenging Dolomite passes. Famous names like the Tre Croci, the Giau or the Pordoi are not to be missed. And if you want, you can also follow in the footsteps of the Giro d ‘Italia and push yourself to the limit on the same roads as the pros. The cycling bucket list for Cortina could be filled almost endlessly – but it’s much better to just visit the many Dolomite/Alpine classics and put your climbing skills to the test.

"The location is simply perfect for both mountain biking and dream rides on the asphalt of the challenging Dolomite passes."

Endless mountain passes

Ticking off your bucket list of “climbs to do” runs like clockwork here. At least if you’re in good shape. Anything is possible here in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Road cycling here is guaranteed to be leaden. During the tour around Monte Pelmo – incidentally one of the highest mountains in the Dolomites and the first Dolomite peak ever climbed – we get our calves burned on the Giau Pass (2,236 m) and Staulanza Pass (1,783 m). Monte Pelmo is also notable for its unusual appearance: as a formation of two monoliths, it is also affectionately called by locals the Throne of God (Italian: al caregon de’l Padreterno) because of its wide concavity, which makes it look like a chair.

More is more?

If two isn’t enough, you’ll love the 6-passage tour. Six makes its way through endless hairpin turns and relentless climbs to breathtaking panoramas of the highest peaks of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites. The Cinque Torri rock formation, the village of Andraz, Arabba and Val Gardena are just some of the highlights of this extraordinary Mamu tour. And at the famous Valparola Pass (2,192 m) we get a lesson in contemporary history as we walk along the paths of World War I, which ran here on the border between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Meanwhile, on Falzarego Pass (2,109 m) we immerse ourselves in the emotions of the Giro d’Italia – and thus in living cycling history: in 1946 Fausto Coppi crossed the finish line here for the first time in a mountain stage ahead of Gino Bartali.

Cortina a true alpine classic

The vast Ampezzo Valley is not only a well-known location for cycling enthusiasts. It has already hosted numerous winter sports events such as the 2021 World Ski Championships, international cross-country skiing events and the 1956 Winter Olympics. The Olympic Games will return return to Cortina d’Ampezzo. But long before the Olympic torch arrived for the first time, this area was already making history. The restored Italian and Austro-Hungarian war stations in the high mountains were transformed into the largest open-air museum of World War I. Surrounded by the imposing panoramas of the Dolomites.

Bun dé and… A s’udëi!

If, on a lazy day of rest, you prefer to take in the panorama of the impressive rock formations of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomites from the valley, follow the Dolomite bike trail or the Misurina tour. Or immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the province of Belluno in the picturesque city center. You might pick up a Ladin word or two along the way, because in addition to Italian, the oldest language of the Alpine region still lives here, characterized by many dialects.

Are you already speechless at the sight of the cultural diversity and the incredible panorama of the Dolomites? When the mountain peaks turn pink at sunrise or sunset and light up the Alps, you are guaranteed to get that typical Cortina feeling.

MORE CYCLING HOTELS AND DESTINATIONS

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Photos © Josef Plaickner 

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