From the dawn of skiing to Vanzina's "Christmas Holidays", passing through "The Pink Panther", Cortina has already lived at least five lives. Now with the World Ski Championships and the next Olympics the future is planned
2021 is a historic year for Curtain: in February it will host the Alpine Ski World Championships and the foundation of theHotel Cristallo, the symbol of the city, and inextricably linked to the birth of Alpine tourism. 120 years after the birth of the myth of the “pearl of the Dolomites”, a new phase opens up.
The first rich adventurers
The start of Cortina's tourist fortune is due to the spread of mountaineering at the end of the nineteenth century. In fact, towards the middle of the century the railways arrived in the basin of the city, bringing the first European travelers and making them discover its beautiful mountains. First the rich Central European nobility, the French, English and American bourgeoisie then fell in love with the spectacle offered by the massive Dolomites, but not only. The mountains were still only places of adventure: in Cortine, on the other hand, modern tourism and the myth of the white week was born. And this history is inextricably linked to the Hotel Cristallo: the first luxury hotel to be inaugurated at the dawn of the twentieth century and a great promoter of the sports that will make the village a world-famous destination.
The intuition of sport and mass tourism
In 1901 Giuseppe Menardi founded the Hotel Cristallo, an imposing building in art nouveau style on the model of the great Viennese palaces; Cortina at the time was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1903 the first ski club arrives and gradually gets equipped to welcome the first adventurous skiers. Until the outbreak of the First World War, the turmoil continued, but it was after the crisis of 1929 that the small town became a renowned tourist center: between the end of the thirties and the beginning of the forties the first ski lifts were also built. In the Second World War the hotel was almost totally destroyed and finally reopened in 1947: it was the birth of mass tourism, obviously the prerogative of nobles and the upper middle class.
The son of the founder, Leo, knows that breathtaking mountains are not enough and he senses that the sports that were then increasingly popular among the elite of the time could make a difference. Skiing of course, but also hockey, curling, skating, motor racing and tennis in the summer. At the Cristallo one of the first indoor swimming pools was inaugurated in the 1930s; still used.
La Dolce Vita in the snow
In 1956 the Winter Olympics consecrate Cortina as a winter destination and make it known thanks to the first television images all over the world. Actors, artists and celebrities arrive, the historic Monkey disco bar is inaugurated and the Cristallo becomes the place to be of nightlife with the opening of the Monckey disco; in the sixties everyone passed through here, so much so that in 1963 an entire cult film was shot right in the hotel, The Pink Panther by Blake Edwards with David Niven and Peter Sellers. It is only the first in a series that will bring the rooms and the lobby into the scenes of Christmas holidays by Vanzina. It is 1983, Christian De Sica is very young and Cortina becomes popular. Golds, furs, big cars and parvenu become the image of Cortina and in the media supplant that of writers and poets who fell in love with a worldly but elegant Cortina. Ruyard Kipling had already called it "kitch", decades before the players and showgirls of Lele Mora's stable arrived, attraction in the attraction of the almost 50 thousand presences counted in the pre-Covid seasons.
The last three lives of Cortina, beyond the nightlife
Mayor Giampietro Ghedina saw his Cortina change its skin at least three times: "There was that of cinepanettoni, then that of the crisis, and finally today's Cortina", he declared to Corriere della Sera in 2019. "There have been years in which it seemed that to count for something, in Italy, it was mandatory to spend the Christmas holidays in Cortina. And so there were characters who rented the Ferrari just for the ski week, or ladies who walked up and down the street showing off the shopping bags of the boutiques that, in reality, were empty. It was only the appearance that mattered. Today, fortunately, we have returned to the tourist of substance . The Milanese ugly of the song Skiing holiday di Il Pagante has once again given way to mountain lovers, to the "citizens" of second homes and to a new luxury tourism. Discos, night clubs and nightlife are no longer what they used to be, the city center seems to have stopped in an indefinite era of the nineties, but a new process of transformation has begun.
The Cristallo celebrates 120 years of Cortina's history
Once again, the Hotel Cristallo marks a piece of the city's history. Celebrating 120 years, it has already gone through two wars, a reconstruction and a renovation for the centenary. It has evolved allowing city tourism to evolve, because to be luxury today you need to have structures, mentality and services up to international standards and guests. The imposing building retains its charm, but rather than basking in a glorious past, it thinks about the future: it has launched the Destination Authority concierge service, a special guide that helps guests find "their" Cortina, away from the beaten path of the mass tourism. In addition to the two restaurants Gazebo and Veranda led by chef Marco Pinalli, it offers hotel guests and external customers the Ampezzo cuisine at LaStube 1872. At the spa you can experience the exclusive Transvital treatments, yoga combined with mountain sports, healthy eating ; and then there is the Thermal Suite Private Experience with which to book an entire area with sauna and wellness program. It reopens on January 15th because for 2021 Cortina and the Cristallo are preparing to welcome the Alpine Ski World Championships.
Via della Spiga, Hotel Cristallo in Cortina: 2 hours, 54 minutes and 27 seconds… Alboreto is nothing !!
"We want to communicate to the world that in Cortina we are ready to win the challenge of organizing a major international sporting event in the midst of a pandemic", declared Alessandro Benetton, president of the Cortina 2021 Foundation. "How the Cortina Olympics in 1956 were the showcase of an Italy that had put the turbo of the economic miracle after the Second World War, so the next World Championships in Cortina 2021 are the icon of a country that fights the pandemic and gets up, to return to looking to tomorrow with with the pride of being Italian ". Sportsmen and journalists will arrive in the city but, unfortunately, few fans because the World Cup will have to play behind closed doors. But we are already looking to 2026, when Cortina, together with Milan, will be the site of the XXV Winter Olympic Games. Milan-Cortina? Far away? "Make the eye dance on the tick! Via della Spiga, Hotel Cristallo in Cortina: 2 hours, 54 minutes and 27 seconds… Alboreto is nothing! . Docet Christmas holidays are very close.