After gazing upon the town of Cortina from the peaks of the Italian Dolomites, I sailed down the slopes towards the alpine style streets.
Cortina is the cultural centre in Italy’s fashionable corner of the Alps. Apart from its breath-taking scenery, the town attracts visitors for its rows of luxurious fashion houses.
Italian designers and top of the range ski brands line the wide cobbled roads, large panelled windows tempting you in with faux fur scarves and warm winter coats. Diamonds and jewels shine from within with quality leather goods attracting keen shoppers.
The town is made up of mismatched chalets, a style influenced from Cortina’s Austrian neighbour. Wooden balconies and aged frescos don the painted walls, whilst green bushes and foliage dot every corner.
Every few stops, the scent of fresh tomatoes and the sound of chatter poured out of pizzerias. Of course we couldn’t resist popping in to a fairy light strung tavern for some classic Italian cuisine.
Fresh basil pesto, rich tomato salmon pasta and juicy aubergine pizza… a delicious feast for a true taste of Italy.
For a girl who loves nothing more than a huge bowl of pasta, this was heaven.
In the middle of the square is the famous Basilica, its Bell Tower a centre point used to navigate around the town. Built in the late 18th century on the site of its former ruins, the intricately decorated church is a peaceful respite. The tall pastel walls are adorned with marble and golf leaf, crowned by a high wooden alter.
Outside the sky was gradually beginning to lose its bright blue hue, turning to a deep midnight glow that caused the town to light up in festive delight.
Shops filled with Christmas trinkets lured me in. Wooden crafts and hand carved clocks covered every blank space.
As the sun sunk beyond the mountains and the Christmas lights twinkled, the temperature suddenly dropped to below zero. Scarves wrapped tight and woollen gloves hastily pulled on, we made our way to the highly recommended Il Vizietto Di Cortina.
Serving fresh seafood and local ingredients, the highly rated restaurant is split into two comfortable rooms filled with fun, local décor and traditional produce. Prosecco was poured and specialities were served, including a beautifully rich olive and tomato tapenade and soft octopus hors d'oeuvre.
Our mains were colourful served on square black slates. A seabass fillet encased within crisp potato was sprinkled in fresh vegetables and a cream sauce. My dish presented a large helping of melt in the mouth raw tuna and salmon, served with courgette, broccoli and an abundance of soy sauce.
The evening finished with a helping of Italian biscotti and chocolate covered nuts, before we ventured back out into the frozen night air.
Staying at the Ambra Cortina Hotel, we only had minutes to walk until we once again reached a blast of warmth. Cosy inside my spacious room, I looked out from my balcony to the fairy tale town of Cortina below.