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Exploring Peaks

Skiers and nonskiers alike will enjoy the eye-popping scenery on a trip up the surrounding mountainsides on the funicular systems that leave right from town. The most spectacular trip is the ascent on the Freccia nel Cielo (Arrow in the Sky), which departs from a terminus near the Stadio Olimpico del Ghiacchio (Olympic Ice-Skating Stadium), about a 10-minute walk north and west of the town center. It has three segments. The top station is at Cima Tofana, at 3,163m (10,375 ft.); the round-trip is 26€. It is a little less expensive (21€) -- and just as satisfying, if mountain scenery and not high-Alpine skiing is your quest -- to make the trip only as far as Ra Valles, the second stop, at 2,550m (8,364 ft.). The views over glaciers and the stony peaks are magnificent, and a bar serves sandwiches and other refreshments on an outdoor terrace. Or, for 12€, you could take the tramway as far as Col Druscie, whose views are still nothing to sneeze at, and there is a decent restaurant there as well. The funicular runs from mid-July to late September and mid-December to May 1, with departures every 20 minutes from 9am to 4 or 5pm, depending on the time of sunset; call tel. 0436-5052 for information.

The Funivia Faloria (tel. 0436-2517) arrives and departs from a terminus on the other side of town, about a 10-minute walk southeast of the town center. The ride is a little less dramatic than the one on the longer Freccia nel Cielo. Even so, the ascent over forests and meadows and then up a sheer cliff to the 2,100m-high (6,888-ft.) ski station at Faloria is not without thrills, and the view from the terrace bar at Faloria, down to Cortina and to the curtain of high peaks to the north, is one you won't soon forget. Like the Freccia nel Cielo, the Funivia Faloria runs from mid-July to late September and mid-December to May 1, with departures every 20 minutes from 9am to 4 or 5pm, depending on the time of sunset; round-trip fare is 16€.

Another trip for cable car enthusiasts is the one from the top of Passo Falzarego, 25km (16 miles) west of Cortina, to Lagazoul, a little skiing and hiking station at the 2,550m (8,364-ft.) level. In summer, you can follow a network of trails at the top and scamper for miles across the dramatic, rocky terrain. The ride is a nearly vertical ascent up the rocky face of the mountain, and as an eerie alternative to the funicular, you can make the climb up or down through a series of tunnels dug into the cliff during World War I battles. Falzarego is the last pass through which you descend if you follow the Strada di Dolomiti into Cortina, so you may want to stop and board the funicular for a scenery-filled introduction to the region. If you are not driving, five buses a day make the 35-minute trip between Cortina and the funicular stop at the top of the Passo Falzarego; the fare is 1.50€ each way. The funivia runs from mid-July to late September and mid-December to May 1, with departures every 30 minutes; round-trip fare is 12€; call tel. 0436-867-301 for information.

Downhill Skiing 

Cortina is Italy's leading ski resort, and it lives up to its reputation with eight exceptional ski areas that are easily accessible from town. Two of the best, Tofana-Promedes and Faloria-Tondi, are accessible by funiculars that lift off from the edges of town, as are the novice slopes at Mietres. You can enjoy these facilities fairly economically with one of the comprehensive Dolomiti Superski passes that provide unlimited skiing (including all chairlift and funicular fees, as well as free shuttle bus service to and from Cortina and the ski areas) at all eight of Cortina's ski areas and those at 10 outlying resorts. You can get passes for any number of days, up to 21. A few sample prices: During high season, December 21 to January 6 and February 1 to March 13, the cost is 45€ for 1 day, 113€ for 3 days, and 210€ for 7 days; shave off about 5€ per day for low season, January 7 to January 31 and March 13 to March 27. For more information, contact the tourist office or Dolomiti Superski, Via Marconi 15b, 32043 Cortina (tel. 0436-866-525 or 0471-867-448; www.dolomitisuperski.com).

For lessons, contact the Scuola di Sci Cortina, Corso Italia (tel. 0436-2911; www.scuolascicortina.it). Prices start at 40€ per hour in low season, 53€ per hour in the holiday season, though cheaper weeklong rates are available.

You can rent skis at many outlets throughout town, including stands at the lower and upper stations of the Freccia nel Cielo cable car and other funiculars; rentals average 15€ to 25€.

Hiking & Rock Climbing

In this mountainous terrain, these two activities are often synonymous. The tourist office can provide maps of hiking trails throughout the surrounding region. For high-altitude hiking, canyoning, and rock climbing, you may want to join one of the excursions led by Gruppo Guide Alpine Cortina, Corso Italia 69A (tel. 0463-868-505; www.guidecortina.com), open daily 8am to noon and 4 to 8pm. A 3-day climbing course, for example, is 270€.

Ice-Skating

At the Stadio Olimpico del Ghiaccio, just to the northwest of the town center on Via del Stadio (tel. 0436-866-342), you can practice turns on the two recently refurbished rinks where Olympians tried for the gold in the 1956 games. Admission plus skate rental is 7€.

Mountain Biking

The roads and tracks leading up to the peaks provide arduous biking terrain; cyclists from all over the world come to Cortina to practice for events. If you want to test your mettle, rent a bike from the Mountain Bike Center, Corso Italia 294. Contact them on their mobile phone (tel. 347-128-1607). Rentals are 30€ for a day and half-price in the off season, for which there are no set dates but roughly correspond to spring and fall. (No one rides here in the winter.) The staff will try to point you in the direction of routes that match your abilities.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.