Discovering Wedding Locations in Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy
A 4.30am start was not the easiest, especially after arriving at Birmingham airport the plane to Venice developed technical trouble and was delayed by a few hours.
I was travelling to Cortina D'Ampezzo, a town in the Italian Dolomite mountains a couple of hours north of Venice, to discover if this area, popular for winter and summer sports, would make a good wedding destination.
Eventually the flight did take off and I arrived in Venice three hours late, but still in time to catch the express bus to town. Arriving in Cortina at 4pm I had missed the briefing on the history of the town, but was still able to meet a local wedding planner, Annette Gottman, who knows the area intimately and has arranged many weddings.
Annette is primarily a herbalist and flower expert, but her expertise also works well for events. She showed me some beautiful pictures of ceremonies she had created and talked about the ceremony she was arranging for that Saturday at the beautiful Lago Ghedina close to Cortina. An English/Australian couple were marrying there and Annette was undertaking final preparations.
A quick stop at the hotel to find my room, and then I was off to a wine tasting session with the rest of the group before going for dinner at a restaurant above the town. Agroturismo El Brite is wooden inside and out, the building was typical of the area, with a balcony looking out to the pastures and peaks in front, a sloping roof to ensure the snow didn't settle in winter, and a shed with livestock (cattle with bells around their necks, goats and their kids) beside.
The food here was amazing with melt in the mouth pasta as a first course, and a selection of meats and potato for the main. This area is well known for its ham (speck), and cheese and throughout my time here I ate plenty of it! This refuge holds a marriage licence and makes an idyllic rustic venue.
The weather remained warm and sunny the next day, which was perfect for visiting some more local wedding venues.
Fiori who has arranged fifteen to twenty weddings a year for the past twenty years. She also runs a shop full of beautiful gifts, many of which she uses to decorate the weddings she designs. Having had so much experience, Claudia is able to suggest some beautiful locations for your ceremony, some of which you may never of even thought of! She showed me pictures of the different types of ceremony she has arranged, in a castle, by a lake, in winter and in summer, the ceremonies were all different but all beautifully arranged.
My hosts, Cortina Turismo, next took me to a gorgeous mountain lake, Lago Ghedina, where the English/Australian wedding was going to take place that Saturday. I could completely understand why the couple had chosen to marry there. A beautiful wooden chalet stood beside the lake with a balcony jutting out into the turquoise water. Surrounded by pine trees and encircled by the mountain peaks, this lake felt completely secluded and private, just ideal to celebrate the start of your life together.
I took a walk around the lakes and also saw the preparations inside – 180 guests were coming from all over the world and the staff were busy getting ready. They were even going to erect a marquee beside the lake for dancing later in the evening.
After stopping to view a couple more stunning locations we took the cable car up to Faloria refuge for lunch with the others. Sitting on top of the mountain, eating freshly made pasta, with a fabulous view of the town was a great way to spend a couple of hours.
That afternoon I explored the town, wandering along its main street and watching the locals set up for a mountain running race that was taking place that weekend. Runners from all over the world were participating in a 120km or 50km mountain race and the start/finish was being set up on the main street.
Cortina is well set up for outdoor activities, with plenty of outdoor gear shops mixed in with local restaurants and bars. The town isn't overly large, and you can walk around the pretty centre in about half an hour.
After my exploring I returned to our hotel where we were to have dinner that evening. The Hotel Franceschi is also a wedding venue, and has a lovely view of the mountains as it is set just out of the centre of town. Local delicacies such as casunziéi (ravioli filled with beetroot), carrot gnocchi and venison stew were all on the menu and were a fitting end to a busy day.
Visit tomorrow for part 2 of my visit to Cortina.
See wedding providers in Italy here
See wedding providers in Italy here