Cortina D’Ampezzo is a traditional mountain town in Italy that has been home to generations of families, year after year in search of winter skiing or summer hiking. Cortina was also home to the Winter Olympics in 1956.
Cortina is a fabulous family hiking destination. Perfect for all levels of hikers and fitness enthusiasts (also not a bad place for foodies), Cortina offers flat plateaus around lakes, steep uphill and downhill trails through rocks or through forests, and opportunities for adventure seeking rock climbers. The various mountains of Faloria-Cristallo-Mietres-and the Tofana provide something for just about everyone.
There are even cows for animal lovers (and those that love fresh cheese and butter).
The trails, on every mountain, are incredibly well marked both with signs and with red and white markings on trees.
On our first day we took it “easy” going only about six miles. Our biggest lesson that first day was to stay off the bike trails. Mountain bikers that move quickly down STEEP trails are not particularly enthused when they come across five (beginner to novice) hikers in their way. We may or may not have been cursed out by some young biking adventure seekers.
Of course, there is a very important mission on any summer hike in Cortina (or really any other Italian mountain town). The mission of finding (and eating as you go) fragoline (little strawberries). We stumbled upon multiple areas of fragoline…and ate…and ate…and ate. You really cannot help yourself against these incredibly sweet, delicious berries.
The second day, starting from the midsection of Faloria. Somehow hiking down this winter slalom slope seemed like it would be easier than actually skiing down it during the winter. Also, hiking Faloria may or may not have made me exceptionally nervous about our January 2013 ski trip to Durango Colorado.
On our last full day, although it was cloudy, and there was little to no visibility, I promised Principessa a trip to the top of the Tofana. There had been some rain in the morning but when from our apartment I saw a few patches of blue sky, I rallied my family and convinced them to head to the top of the Tofana (as in, it took us three separate cable cars to get to the top). By the time we got to the top, not only were there no blue batches allowing us to see the town of Cortina, but there was also a bit of rain (which at that altitude is more like ice and snow even in the summer). Only Principessa, my dad, and I actually went to the top…crazies that we are.
Although…. we were not crazy enough to head beyond the ropes for a trip down the rocks. In the clouds. At over 3000 meters.
In the end, we hiked about three miles on our short day and between six and seven miles on all of our other days, climbing to our highest point of 3200 meters at the top of the Tofana. There were significantly more downhills than uphills which also means that all of the adults in the family had sore knees by the end of our trip. Unless you count the last day where I “may” have asked to go uphill…which for the record, is entirely overrated.
I could not have been prouder of my almost eight year old hiker…and in all honesty, of myself. For huffing and puffing my way up and down some serious trails.
Even better than the pride? Realizing that I truly, (and I mean truly) love to hike and that we enjoy it is a family. I cannot think of a better way to stay active together than to hike…although if I am being honest. The trails of Northern Virginia may be a bit anticlimactic after our adventure in Cortina. I guess we will just have to make plans for future trips.