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Across the Fanes-Conturines range from the Val Badia is one of Italy’s most famous, fashionable and expensive ski resorts, Cortina d’Ampezzo. Cortina lies over the regional border in the Veneto, and access roads are infinitely easier to and from the south than from the west.
Cortina’s pretty piazzas and stone church spires are surrounded by some of the most stunning mountains in the Alps, including (in a clockwise direction) Cristallo, the Gruppo di Sorapiss-Marmarole, Antelao, Becco di Mezzodi-Croda da Lago, Nuvolau-Averau-Cinque Torri and Tofane.
To the south are the Pelmo and the Civetta. Facilities for both downhill and cross-country skiing are first class, and the small town’s population swells dramatically during the ski season; great walking and climbing possibilities crowd out the town in summer, too.
Cortina is situated more or less to the centre of the Ampezzana valley, encircled nearly completely by the high Dolomites. Originally it was composed of numerous frazioni, isolated villages and hamlets, but with the advent of the tourism from the 1950s it grew rapidly. Only the furthest villages and hamlets in the commune have remained secluded and isolated from the main town, which today is known for its shopping.Cortina is home to some of the most prestigious names in fashion, including Bulgari, Benetton, Gucci and Geox, and various artisan shops, antiquarians, and craft stores. It is also home to many stores which specialize in mountaineering equipment.
However, the symbol of Cortinese shopping remains La Cooperativa di Cortina, founded on June 28, 1893 under the name of Consumverein Ampezzo. In this shopping centre many trades can be found, from confectioners to newspaper vendors, toys, gift shops, skiing stores and blacksmiths. The building is divided into three levels (more a raised plan and a balcony). The cooperative in Cortina was one of the first cooperatives founded in the Italian Peninsula, and currently provides employment to approximately 200 people. Near the bridge on the Bigontina River is the Town Hall, a palace in the Tirolese style.
The Ampezzano climate is typically alpine, with short summers, and long winters that vacillate between frigid, snowy, unsettled, and temperate. Between the end of December and 1 January every year, some of the lowest temperatures recorded in Italy are in this region, particularly in heights of the Cimabanche Steppe, the area on the border between the provinces of Belluno and Bolzano. The average seasons are generally rainy, cold, and very windy.
The surroundings of Cortina have been the location for a number of movies, including mountain climbing scenes for Cliffhanger, Krull and The Pink Panther. The resort was a major location for the James Bond 007 film For Your Eyes Only, including action sequences set against a backdrop of various winter sports and one of the most famous ski chase sequences in film, where Roger Moore as Bond has to escape a crew of assassins on spike-wheeled motorcycles, his route taking them all onto the bobsleigh run.