Cortina d'Ampezzo leads the way in extra winter thrills

Even with fabulous skiing on the doorstep, many winter holidaymakers like to try something different - and this winter the top Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo has some of the most exciting alternative activities in the Alps.

Even with fabulous skiing on the doorstep, many winter holidaymakers like to try something different - and this winter the top Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo has some of the most exciting alternative activities in the Alps. All are attractions that you can combine with a ski or boarding day - spend the morning on the slopes then head for an entirely different thrill after lunch.

Winter via ferrata: Alpine guides have worked hard to create three via ferrata routes suitable for winter climbing - a fabulous chance to experience an excursion usually thought of as purely a summer feature. Via ferrata is a climbing route with permanent cables to clip onto, making it a totally secure way of getting to the most spectacular of locations on the mountains - and seeing the landscape cloaked in snow from this perspective is a rare and priceless experience.

The three routes are Col de Bos in Passo Falzarego, Cristallino d'Ampezzo, which crosses the famous bridge of the ferrata Di Bona, and the challenging ferrata Sci Club 18 on Mt Faloria.

Cortina is one of the few places in the Alps where you can experience winter via ferrata.

Mountain biking: Mountain biking is now possible in the winter too. It has been adapted to winter conditions with the K-track kit, which transforms the mountain bike into a snow-bike capable of tackling snow-covered slopes. It's a boon for keen mountain bikers, but a great opportunity too for skiers and boarders to try another fun way of getting about the slopes.

Ice driving: You can get behind the wheel and learn how to cope with snowy and icy driving conditions on a specially created track. At the new Fiames Snow and Ice Driving Experience, professional instructor Franco Murani will demonstrate exactly how to tame winter conditions on a two-kilometre track. It's thrilling of course - but with a serious perspective to it, considering how much challenging winter weather we seem to have nowadays in the UK. You could come back with new skills that could prove invaluable on the roads closer to home. Vehicles are available for you to use under instruction.

Cortina d'Ampezzo is the only Italian member of the prestigious European association Best of the Alps, an international quality trademark which brings together the 12 most famous and exclusive towns in the Alpine region.

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