Travels & Places: Dolomite Alps, Italy

Dolomite Alps, Italy

The Dolomites are a mountain range in the Alps. They are located for the most part in north-eastern Italy. One national park and many other regional parks are located in the Dolomites. In August 2009, the Dolomites were declared a natural heritage site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

A Outdoors tourist mecca, the Dolomites are famous for skiing in the winter months and mountain climbing, hiking, climbing and Base Jumping, as well as paragliding and hang gliding in summer and late spring/early autumn.

Free climbing has been a tradition in the Dolomites since 1887, when 17-year-old Georg Winkler soloed the first ascent of the pinnacle Die Vajolettürme. The main centers include: Rocca Pietore alongside the Marmolada Glacier, which lies on the border of the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto regions, the small towns of Alleghe, Falcade, Auronzo, Cortina d’Ampezzo and the villages of Arabba, Urtijëi and San Martino di Castrozza, as well as the whole of the Fassa, Gardena and Badia valleys.

During the First World War, the line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces ran through the Dolomites. There are now open-air war museums at Cinque Torri (Five Towers) and Mount Lagazuoi. Many people visit the Dolomites to climb the Vie ferrate, protected paths created during the First World War. A number of long distance footpaths run across the Dolomites, which are called “Alte vie” (i.e., high paths). Such long trails, which are numbered from 1 to 8, require at least a week to be walked through and are served by numerous “Rifugi” (huts). The first and, perhaps, most renowned is the Alta Via 1.

The Alta Via 1 is a 150 km long high level public footpath which runs through the eastern Dolomites. It is also known as the Dolomite High Route 1. It passes through some of the finest scenery. The path runs south from Pragser Wildsee, near Toblach, to Belluno. Prags can be accessed by bus and Belluno has both train and bus services.

This is the classic high route in the Dolomites, and also the easiest. It gets slightly more difficult as it goes south, but the only section which might present difficulties is the descent from Schiara, and this can be bypassed. About 10-15 days are required to complete the full route. A typical day on the route might involve about seven hours walking, with ascents and descents of about 800 metres. It can be attempted during the period July to September, when the route should be largely free of snow. Camping is forbidden along the route, but there is ample accommodation available in mountain refuges and in valley hotels. There are refuges all along the route. During August advance booking is essential.

In the first week in July, the Maratona dles Dolomites, an annual single-day road bicycle racing race covering seven mountain passes of the Dolomites, is staged.

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The Ski Resorts

Dolomiti Superski, one of the biggest ski resorts on the Dolomiti Mountains, which are part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The ski resort features 1,200 km of panoramic slopes, 12 valleys, 450 uphill facilities, 1 skipass and 1,100 km of slopes with snowmaking systems. They offer renewed uphill facilities and slopes, new connections between regions and ski areas, for spending unforgettable holiday times with snow on the most beautiful mountains in the world!

The new craze among the young is called Freestyle, which sees the number of fans grow every year. For teenagers, jumping, grabbing and doing other aerial performances has now become a cult. In cooperation with 23 ski and snowboard schools in the Dolomiti Superski district, fun days are to be had for the 12 to 18s, who wish to try an exciting new experience on skis or board, maybe even upside down.

Those who spend their winter holidays in the Dolomites and try one of the spectacular snowparks, The Dolomiti Superski ski districts are also renowned for their traditions and fun events organized mainly at the start of the season, introducing skiers to the world of fun on the snow and the festive Christmas atmosphere. And the choice could not be wider:

On 25th November, in Brunico the traditional Christmas market begins and lasts till 6th January. The same event will be on schedule in Bressanone from 27th November to 6th January

On 1st December, in Santa Cristina in Val Gardena the romantic Christmas market begins, with its wide range of small gifts and other items on sale at the many stalls, following the sweet aroma of warm apple juice, cinnamon and vin brulé.

From 4th December, in Castelrotto, as part of the program “Christmas in Castelrotto”, local handcrafts, food specials and music will be presented on town square

On 4th December as well, at Dobbiaco it is the time of the Krampus, little devil creatures which accompany Saint Nicholas, the traditional Tyrolean religious figure that brings gifts to children. His little demons will however pick a bone only with those who have not been good.

From 5th December to 9th January, Tesero in Val di Fiemme will show his traditional cribs in a big exhibition during Christmas’ time.

On 12th December, Valle Isarco is celebrating winter opening at Valles and at the same time, Alpe di Siusi is introducinh the new winter season as well.

From 16th to 19th December, Cortina d’Ampezzo will become sweet thank to the “Eurochocolate Ski”, a mix of chocolate art show and fun on snow, in front of the amazing Tofane mountains.

Discounts on family seasonal ski passes for families with children, Dolomiti Superski offers a range of savings to allow you to have fun together on the slopes. By purchasing a seasonal ski pass for a child up to 8 years old.

The Name

The name “Dolomites” is derived from the famous French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu who was the first to describe the rock, dolomite, a type of carbonate rock which is responsible for the characteristic shapes and colour of these mountains; previously they were called the “pale mountains,” and it was only in the early 19th century that the name was Gallicized.

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