Tuesday 3 February 2015

The Dolomites - peaks of perfection

North of the flat region of Venice, Verona and the Valpolicella vineyards are the Dolomite mountains.

They have distinctive charcoal-and-white sheer faces ... 

which on the day that we were winding upwards along hairpin bends were blending photogenically with overcast grey skies.

Snapping from the car window I watched how the character of towns and villages changes completely up here, making you wonder if you've unknowingly left Italy and arrived in Austria. Even the shape of the church steeples is different.

We were headed for the little mountain town of San Cassiano - a ski resort high up in the Dolomites. This is the Alta Badia region of the South Tyrol, and a place where cultures and languages collide.

It's strange to have to remind yourself that you're in Italy when you're being served muesli, sauerkraut or strudel, depending on the time of day, by women with Tyrolese braids, wearing dirndls and speaking German.

A majority of people here are German speakers and some of these wish it were independent or could be reunited with Austria.

But while Italian speakers are in the minority, there's another vocal linguistic minority group of Ladin speakers. Ladin (a Romance language) has been spoken here since the days of the Roman Empire (see here).

It's the third official language in this region and another of Europe's linguistic minorities that is fighting for preservation, with its own schools and media channels.

St Hubertus is one of two Michelin starred restaurants in San Cassiano, making it one of the few ski resorts that is also a foodie destination

Multiple identities aside, this area is incredibly beautiful, in or out of the skiing season ...

Gondola lifts operate outside of the skiing season for mountain hikers

Duvets and general bettzeug airing over balconies, German/Austrian-style

... surrounded on all sides by the awe inspiring Dolomites, the Monti Pallidi, Pale Mountains, as the Italians named them, for the changing colours of the white rocks.

Südtirol/Alto Adige, September 2014


  1. Such spectacular scenery, with valleys and hills that have seen so much history and the fortunes of so many change!

  2. Karen, what splendid places you take us to! I remember my own Eurailpass touring through Europe all those years ago, and how I also was usually able to identify when we'd crossed a border by the roofing on the buildings.

    I've not before heard of Laden. Thank you for making me curious! I will have to do some more research



Related Posts with Thumbnails