An unpublished collection of 47th vintage postcards of Cortina and surroundings, from the 20's to the 50's .
Cortina in 1865 with Sorapis and Antelao. The image is taken from one of the first volumes written by English tourists; the famous "The Dolomites Mountains" by J. Gilbert and G.C. Churchill
Capitolo 15 - English, French, Americans, Germans and the new St. Moritz
The first to admire our mountains, though from far and with a scientific eye, had been French Deodat Gratet de Dolomieu, during the Napoleonic period. The first to travel them as tourists are, in 1861, Englishmen J. Gilbert and G.C. Churchill, who open the Ampezzo valley to the eyes of the Anglo-Saxon world with their famous volume "The Dolomites Mountains", published in London three years later. In 1862, the pioneer for the Germans is Paul Grohmann from Vienna; his travel guide, "Wanderungen in den Dolomiten" though not less important, is a mountaineering rather than a tourist guide-book. The Americans have come to know about our enchanting world by two journalists of the New York Harper, in 1879. And there are women, too. Worth mentioning is, above all, Amelia Barbara Edwards who, after she had travelled "dangerously" across our valleys and appreciated her great staying at hotel Aquila Nera in Cortina, wrote the pleasant volume "Untrodden peaks and unfrequented valleys" enriched with unequalled lithographs. Then the French, "travers le Tyrol" by Jules Gourdault (1884), and again English, German and Italian tourists. Most of them reach or leave Cortina along the road of Alemagna and approach it by train. The first railway lines to be built are those of Brennero and Milan-Venice. The importance of the new means of transport is immediately clear in Ampezzo and committees are created to have a section with Pustorthal built. Unfortunately this dream, was only realized after the 1st World War.
In magazines, mountaineers and travellers describe Ampezzo as a developing tourist resort and compare it to St Moritz. For years, the Swiss winter resort will be the model to aspire to.
Meanwhile, the gold rivulet coming down from the woods, favoured and increased by the new road, enables great modernization works. Between 1837 and 1841, the Community builds the solid palace of the governmental offices, just in time to house the new district Court. Today, this building is the Town hall. In the same years, near the church of the Defence, the new hospital is erected. It will be inaugurated during the '48 revolution. Between 1850 and 1858 talented craftsman Silvestro Franceschi builds the daring bell tower. In 1855, after the" imperial royal art school for wood craftsmanship" is recognized, the Commune builds the new building where generations of master craftsmen have studied and learnt their art. Building eagerness affects also private entrepreneurs.
In 1862, a Adriano Cambruzzi from Valdobbiadene, opens the first chemist's at Cortina, enjoying the easy terms of payment and the support by the Community. On the 26th June, 1893 don Alfonso Videsott, born in Val Badia, together with four entrepreneurs of Ampezzo, files an application to the imperial royal Commercial Court of Bolzano to register the "Cooperative society of Ampezzo for buying and selling goods". The "Cooperativa" is born. The next year, the same active priest, chaplain of the parish, gathers thirty-five farmers and craftsmen and together they give life to the "Society of loans and savings of Ampezzo. Today's "Cassa Rurale ed Artigiana" bank.
If the engineers of the Alemagna road had accommodated at the Aquila Nera, which had been existing since 1780, Radetzky's officers could already choose among that one and Croce Bianca, Stella and the Ancora inn. In 1864, Michele Dandrea builds the osteria al Parco, today's hotel San Marco. In 1878, the Cortina is built by Angelo Apollonio, former secretary of the Community; this hotel can boast the record of having been managed by the same family for the longest period of time. In 1890, the Tre Croci of Giuseppe Menardi; in 1891, the Vittoria of Agostino Manaigo; in 1892, Parc hotel Faloria of Luigi Menardi; in 1893, Giovanni Alverà Santabella opens the Bellevue; in 1894, Angela Colli gets the licence for the Alpenrose of Fiames; in 1895 three new licences are granted to: Amadio Girardi for the hotel of the same name; Giuseppe Ghedina, teacher of the art school, for an inn at La Verra; and to Francesco Bernardi for the Ospitale hotel; the venerable old hospice was then converted. In 1898 two new hotels open on Pocòl: Tofana of Basilio de Zanna and Pocòl of Antonia Lacedelli.
The census taken at the end of the century reports of 17 hotels with accommodation for 530. In the summer of 1900, 7059 arrivals are recorded in the guest-books. New hotels are being built.
In 1901 Giuseppe Menardi inaugurates the Cristallo Palace hotel; in 1902, Romeo Manaigo opens the Miramonti Majestic and Serafino Majoni the Majoni hotel. In 1904, Angelo Menardi Malto, in anticipation of the forthcoming new road of the Dolomites, opens a hotel on the Falzarego pass, while, in Cortina Gottardo Manaigo leaves the prestigious post as Postmeister, run by his family since 1832, and opens the Post hotel.
The winter season is coming; its favourable climate and sunny location make Ampezzo a unique resort in the Danubian monarchy. The reports on the tourist development which the head of the commune sends to the government of Vienna, show that the "ghost" of St Moritz starts fading away. Save for the railway line, Cortina is proudly considered the best, and brochures describe it as "the pearl of the Dolomites" and "queen of the Alps".