Cortina is situated to the center of the Valle d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites, and is positioned between Cadore (to the south) and the Val Pusteria (to north), Val d' Ansiei (to east) and Agordo (to the west). It is encircled to 360° from the Dolomites. Amongst the more famous mountains are Tofane to the west, Pomagagnon to the north, Cristallo to the northeast, and Faloria and Sorapiss to east, and Becco di Mezzodì, and Croda da Lago and Cinque Torri to south. The city center is located at an alitude of 1,224 m, although the highest summit is that of the Tofana di Mezzo which towers at 3,244 m. There is a significant water presence in the territory, under the form of torrents, streams and little lakes (Ghedina, Pianozes, d'Ajal...), which fill particularly during the summer snow melt season. Fauna include marmots, roe deers, chamoises and hares.
Cortina is situated more or less to the center of the Ampezzana valley, encircled nearly completely on four sides from the high Dolomites. Originally it was composed from numerous frazioni, isolated villages and hamlets, but with the advent of the tourism it grew rapidly from the 1950s. Only the furthest villages and hamlets in the commune have remained secluded and isolated from the main town, which today is known for its shopping. Cortina is home to some of the most prestigious names in fashion including Bulgari, Benetton, Gucci and Geox and various artisan shops, antiquarians, and craft stores. It is also home to many stores which specialize in mountaineering equipment.
However, the symbol of cortinese shopping remains La Cooperativa di Cortina, founded on June 28 1893 under the name of Consumverein Ampezzo. In this shopping center many trades can be found, from confectionary to newspaper vendors, from toys and gift shops to skiing stores and blacksmiths. The building is divided in three layers (more a raised plan and a balcony). The cooperative in Cortina was one of the first cooperatives founded in the Italian Peninsula and currently it provides employment to approximately 200 people. Near the bridge on the Bigontina river there is the Town hall, an elegant palace in the Tirolese style.
Piazza Venezia houses several popular spots. The Ciasa de ra Regoles is one of the more important legal buildings in Cortina from where the "regolieri" , a council for the local villages that stood before the town merged, trained the community and gave adminsitrative orders. In the same building today is found also the office of the Scuola Sci Cortina, Cortina's skiiing school.
Cortina d'Ampezzo was the host town of the 1956 Winter Olympics. The 1944 Winter Olympics were also scheduled to be held in Cortina, but were cancelled because of World War II. The 1927 Nordic, 1941 Nordic and 1941 Alpine World Skiing Championships were held in Cortina as well though the 1941 Nordic championships were withdrawn by the FIS in 1946. The region lost the bid for the 1988 Winter Olympics to Calgary, Canada.
Cortina was home of Olympic bobsledder Eugenio Monti who was the first winner of the de Coubertin medal for fair play.
The surroundings of Cortina have been the location for a number of movies, including certain mountain climbing scenes of Cliffhanger, Krull, the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only and The Pink Panther. Audrey Hepburn was a frequent visitor to the slopes of Cortina.
Close to Cortina d'Ampezzo is San Vito di Cadore.
According to BBC News, the town voted in October 2007 to secede from the region of Veneto and join the neighboring region, Trentino-Alto Adige. Cited motivations include cultural ties with the small Ladin-speaking community in Trentino and a desire for lower taxes.