The Dolomites, a Unesco patrimony

The Dolomites have been UNESCO Patrimony since 2009. Everyone belongs to them, either you were born here, or you come to visit for holiday or trekking adventure. Its variety of landscapes and breathtaking views make this complex system as the closest mountains to Verona,Trento and Bolzano.

Located between the region of Veneto, Friuli and Trentino this natural heaven is destination for winter sports and natural beauties. In addition some open fields can become setting for famous music events called ‘ I suoni delle Dolomiti’. The complex develops into 9 Systems, as stated by Unesco:

  • on the west (Sys. 9) Dolomiti del Brenta, where Cima Tosa rises;
  • on the east (Sys. 2) Marmolada with its most highest point, Punta Penia (3341m.);
  • on the north (Sys.8/9) Sciliar-Catinaccio, Latemar and Bletterbach, with many heights and a Geo Park.

Once you leave Verona towards Trento, you can take the left and continue to Madonna di Campiglio, Dolomiti del Brenta and Parco dell’ Adamello, for some natural landscapes and rocky views; while, entering into Val di Fassa on the right, you will pass throughout the mountain walls and reach the height of Marmolada, crossing Natural Parks and great views on some local lakes (Lago Fedaia and Lago di Pezzè).


La Marmolada and other heights

At the foot of Dolomites, there is Malga Ciàpela (1450m), a small basin surrounded by Val Pettorina and the City of Rocca Pietore. From this point everyday a cableway leaves to reach the height of Marmolada.

This mountain is considered the Queen of Dolomites, for its top altitude and historic value. Its name could come from the word ‘marmor’, which means marble, or from the greek root ‘marmar’ which means ‘splendor’. Some of its glaciers have disappeared because of global warming; however, on the northen side, some of them are still preserved by the wide amount of snow coming from avalanches. It is important to know that Dolomites have been scenaries for many war battles and in particular for the I World War (1915-17). In the locality called Sottoguda, you can visit the interactive centre of Carlo Delcroix. Screens, videos and images from the war can remind you of past emotional stories. The entry is free of charge. But if you are brave enough you can also get to the highest Museum of Europe, which is located on Punta Serauta, main site of other historic battles, as well.

Although, the italian-austrian border of Marmolada was also a strategic glacier. In 1916 the austrian engineer Leo Hudl developed a 12 Km tunnel in 10 months, which allowed 200 soldiers to resist the coldest temperature of the mountains (up to -30°). These caves, in fact, became kitchens, dorms, radio stations, nurse offices and caffeterias. Completely digged into Marmolada glaciers, some of them had a width of 50 m. Nowdays, not much of these galleries have remained due to Caporetto battle and the lack of maintainance. However, you canstill enjoy some old testimonials of the City of Ice, from local museums and all over the region Veneto.

Back to the bottom of Marmolada a cableway connects Malga Ciàpela through the stations of Coston d’Antermoja (2350m) and Serauta (2950m), where the historic Ice museum lies, till Punta Rocca (3265m), locate just in front of Punta Penia, the top heights of Dolomites (3342m). In particular, at Punta Rocca there is a beautiful terrace from which you can admire a spectacular panoramic view of Dolomites.


Val di Fassa, Canazei and the local traditions

North to Marmolada there is the town of Canazaei. This is one of the rare pearl of these mountains; it is located in a green basin on the northern top side of Val di Fassa. As one of the highest Italian town it was built at 1.465 m altitude; the site is also a centre of winter sports, with the famous heights of Sassolongo, Gruppo Sella and Marmolada.  Canazei, together with 18 other cities, is also known for its cultural origin and the language called ‘ladina dolimitica’. The word ‘ladino’ probably goes back to Latinus, the old roman language, whose Empire conquered in Guerra retica in 15 b.C. Since IV Century, this territory became home for many german origin populations, such as Longobards, Ostrogoti, Franchi. Their influence changed the language and nowdays ‘lingua ladina’ is only spoken in three areas: Cantone dei Grigioni in Switzerland, in Canazei and in the region Friuli- Venzia Giulia.

But these Mountains have also preserved old artisian jobs, such as the iron and wood processing. In the heart of Val Petturina in the locality of Sottoguda, the brothers Di Biasio have started to bring back the iron old craft since 1926. If you visit Bottega Fosina, you can find some artistical gifts to bring home as souvenirs. As the products are all hand made the shop doesn’t provide a shipping service; therefore you do need to come here for sure. Then, moving further away from old villages, the beautiful mountain gurge Gola dei Serrai di Sottoguda, today natural reserve, extends between Sottoguda and Malga Ciapela, at the bottom of Marmolada. Today you can explore its rocky walls, sometimes reaching almost heights of 100 m. In particular, you can admire the old galleries from I World War; these rocky caves were used to collect armies munitions and explosive, but during II World War, the locals of Sottoguda used them as protection from airplanes attacks.

Then, another unique natural sculpture is also given by the rock, the ‘Sass Taiè’, which means cut stone. Traditionally, this was shaped by man in order to make the road more easy for wagons or sledges. For those more religious there is also a tiny church of S.Antonio, protector of pets, which was given the name for a big loss of livestock. Therefore, a break into this enchanted and historic heaven is a must. Marmolada is not just rock, greeny fields or magical sunsets, but also mystery and legend. You can explore these beautiful Mountains in one of our Private Tours.

Lastly there are many traditional Festivals that take part in these areas, with local food, crafts and Fairs. Thursday evenings are usually the times to explore a bit of past jobs (‘antichi mestieri’), special exhibitions or typical food events. Some local dances can make you entertained, and spectacular shows will leave you with hearthbeat. In fact there is a famous Fiaccolata of Serrai Sottoguda which takes place inside Serrai gorge; here the hidden canyon will be illuminated by thousands of lights that reflect into the snow. Facinating. Then, during Christmas, Skii School Marmolada organises the Master Fiaccolata, an unmissable event. Instead, during Easter time, in Carnival, two main masked events must be remembered: Matazin di Sottoguda and Matacinch di Laste. The first one used to be held to bring back lights and fun from winter; in fact, the typical mask, the Matazin, is a conic shaped hat with wide base. During the party you can admire the colourful decorations shaken with some tyical dances. The second one, symbol of fertility, is worn to invite ladies to dance. Lastly the Falò of Befana is held in Rocca Pietor, to entertain kids and adults with funny songs for the arrival of ‘befana’, the typical pagan witch that taked all the festive times away, as an italian popular story used to tell.


Sports and trekking

However, Dolomites are one of the most chosen destination for snow sports and trekking. Many are the itineraries you can select. It is good to know that you can even stop in one of the ‘Rifugi’. These buildings are usually located at heights, far from city centres but always well provided with kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and dining rooms. Sassolungo and Sassopiatto are famous heights for excursion and climbing. In Gruppo Sella, instead Piz Boè is the highest of the area with its 3.152 m. The four heights to be mentioned are Passo Gardena, Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella e Passo Campolongo.

The panoramic view on Val di Fassa is very memorable. Torri del Sella is also well known for trekking and climbing; from the big massive rock of Sella Ronda, 25 Km of ski slopes connect the four main heights. This itinerary is also very loved by mountain bikers. But if you wish to bring home a very unique image from these mountains, you should come to visit during the famous music shows of ‘Suoni delle Dolomiti’.

Occurring between July and Augut, this event is set up along valleys and heights; maybe after a walk with the artist into an open field, you can take part to a very intimate and magical music show, surrounded by the rocky mountains of Dolomites and under a very blue sky. Many famous International artists have been invited, such as Violinsts, Jazz musicians, big orchestras or amazing singers. This experience is a unique journey, after which you will come back to the enchanting Dolomites Mountains.


by Matteo Pasqualotto

15 October 2017