Cortina d’Ampezzo, a pearl or a whirl?

My mission? To narrate Italy through one of its excellence products: its wine.

Italy is a country where cuisine, flavors, architectures, and landscapes change from one region to another. But what am I saying, from one little village to another! The language changes, the culture changes, and the wine changes! In Italy, there’s such richness and diversity that it takes a lifetime to discover it all.
I’ve put myself to the task and always keep my eyes open to discover heroic vineyards, small crus, and great stories. This country is so rich in excellence that sometimes you don’t even realize you’re sitting right on top of it!

Skiing at Cortina d’Ampezzo

Indeed, Italy is one of the most important wine producers in the world. We produce wines of all colors and at all latitudes, from the mountain slopes of the North to the sunny beaches of the South. To give you an idea of what cultural diversity means, let me take you to Cortina d’Ampezzo, one of the most fascinating (and glamorous) mountain resorts in the beautiful country.

Cortina d’Ampezzo is now a town of 6,000 residents, but during the winter and summer seasons, the number of people multiplies tenfold. We are in northern Italy, near the border with Austria, and think about it, Cortina was part of the Austrian territories for 400 years until it was annexed to Italy at the end of World War I. So geographically, yes, we are in the Veneto region, but culturally we are in the Ladin territory along with four other valleys in the adjacent region of Alto Adige-South Tyrol.

Ladin culture originates from Roman times and is expressed today through language, cuisine, and typical buildings. The Ladin language, which originates from the Latin of the Romans who occupied the northern Italian regions on the Dolomite reliefs, is still spoken by about 30,000 people. To give you an idea, if in Italian you say “buongiorno” (good morning), in Ladin you say “Bun dé” and “Come stai?” (how are you?) is “Co vara pa?”.

If you’re passionate about mountains, photography, nature, or foliage, this is a place that will leave you speechless. Cortina is also called “The Pearl of the Dolomites” surrounded as it is by some of the most beautiful mountains in the Alpine arc: Sorapis, Cristallo, Tofane—wherever you look, you find the majesty of the UNESCO World Heritage Dolomite rocks.

I sometimes climb up here to admire these stunning panoramas. One of the most spectacular wonders you can witness is the sunsets that set the Dolomites on fire: the sunlight descending on the horizon ignites these peaks with a color between orange and purple, offering boundless emotions… oops… they’re the same colors as my logo :).

But is all that glitters gold? No, it’s not.
All this landscape and cultural richness, although recognized as such, is exposed to reckless choices motivated by economic interests.
The inhabitants of Cortina, armed with stamped papers, electronic signatures and picket signs, are waging battles against the destruction of some unique habitats for the construction of infrastructure related to the Winter Olympic Games in 2026.

With great tenacity, they have fought against the construction of the Olympic village in an area that represents an essential habitat for some species of plants and insects unique in the world. A second battle sees them now engaged in the fight against the destruction of 500 centuries-old larch trees to build a bobsleigh track. There are a thousand reasons why that track should not be built, from the destruction of the ancient forest to the absurd cost (over 100 million euros) to the risk of unexploded bombs. Indeed, the entire area witnessed a heavy Austro-Hungarian attack on February 21, 1916, with the possibility that excavations will bring to the surface unexploded ordnance from the Great War.

From previous experiences like the Winter Olympics in Turin, these infrastructures, cathedrals in the desert, are often erected for the duration of the events and then abandoned with absurd waste of millions of euros and destruction of landscape richness.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, like many other wonderful places in the country, is fighting to protect its ancient forest against the aggression of concrete and economic interests. It fights to reaffirm the common sense of not destroying what Nature took centuries to build.

The protection of the landscape is a vital issue for all local populations because ultimately protecting the landscape means protecting one’s culture and identity.