Dolomite Mountains – The Beauty of Northern Italy
In a word… breathtaking….
At the top of Italy, you will find the wondrous Dolomite Mountains. Once known as the “Pale Mountains”, the minerals in their dolomite rock turn pink in the late afternoon light. They are unique spectacles to behold. As the sun sets, they become red, as the rock traps light and tricks the eyes in an effect that the locals call “enrosadira”.
History of the Dolomite Mountains
Much history can be found in the passes of these mountains. Austro-Hungarian and Italian troops clashed in the mountains in the First World War. The mountains are inter-laced with iron roads, which are narrow, fabricated climbing paths. These serve as evidence of the long struggle for this border area.
The people who live in the valleys of the Dolomites are unique, like the rocks surrounding them. Even with armies and empires fighting over the land, the locals do not call themselves Austrian or Italian. They are known as the Ladin (lah-deen) and their native tongue is a language with a base in Latin.
Relive the Past in World War I Galleries and Tunnels
During WWI, the Italians and Austrians built elaborate tunnels in the Dolomite Mountains. You can explore these historical paths and visit a museum dedicated to this unique aspect of history. At the Rifugio Lagazuoi, found at the Lagazuoi Mountains summit, you will gaze in awe at one of the best 360-degree views of the Dolomites.
Touring the Dolomite Mountains
The cold air invigorates all those who visit the Dolomites. Perched on the sides of the mountains are small, wooden huts where visitors stop for cheese and speck (their unique smoked, cured ham). Unless you ski or hike, you may not find these restful huts.
During the summer months, the mountains are blanketed by fields of pink rhododendron and edelweiss. Relaxing at cloud level, you can wonder once more at the beauty all around you. Many tourists spend full days in the mountains, with expert drivers and guides who will regale you with the history of the mountains.
Lake Misurina and Lake Santa Caterina are two of the most beautiful lakes in the area. The peaks of Tre Cime di Lavaredo are true symbols of the Dolomites of Italy. With no other peaks close by, they are even more breathtaking in their beauty and height. Even though the name implies three towers, you will actually see six, all named and all awe-inspiring.
Hiking the Iron Road – a Via Ferrata
This is a safe way for you to traverse the Dolomites’ mountainous paths. The paths offer protection in bridge-like form, for travelers to follow the path to one of the mountain range’s summits. Safety cables, bridges and metal rungs allow hikers to access remote areas otherwise reserved for rock climbers and mountaineers. Even inexperienced climbers will enjoy this endeavor. The views are indescribable.
You may tour the area of Lake Misurina by coach. This lovely lake is called the “Pearl of the Dolomites”. You’ll want to bring your camera along to catch the lovely shots of this lake with the backdrop of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Tucked into the mountains you will also find Cortina d’Ampezzo, a ski resort for the rich and famous. The bustling resort is surrounded by the towering Dolomite Mountains. You may enjoy the boutiques in town, or visit a street-side café for coffee.
Some of the most well hidden passes in the Dolomites are only accessible during bike tours of the mountain range. Passes new to those who have never cycled in these mountains have been used for years, for races, but are virtually unknown outside of these races. There is always something new to explore in the regal, rugged Dolomites. And with all those paths, tunnels, walks, bike rides towns, I’ve seen all of my guides use Garmin eTrex 20 Worldwide Handheld GPS Navigator
and we never got lost.
Without question, these amazingly gorgeous Dolomite Mountains offer more than what might the eyes upon first glance from afar.
Filled around and within are wondrous people and a unique culture and language, terrific foods and coffee, and activities year round. Coming here was an adventure I will cherish forever. And what struck me most was the diverse amount of people.