This Dolomite mountain range in northeastern Italy is an idyllic playground for both outdoor adventurers and those seeking a taste of the region’s cultural heritage. Much of the region was Austrian until annexation by Italy after World War I, and the distinctive local cuisine reflects these roots, so expect lots of speck, sauerkraut, knödel, and strudel.
The Dolomites are a majestic mountain range offering picturesque views. Can you resist their splendour? Read these interesting facts about the Dolomites to find out more…
The “Dolomites”, or “Dolomiti” in Italian, are also known as the “Dolomite Mountains” and “Pale Mountains”, the latter translated from the Italian term “Monti Pallidi”.
The Dolomites cover an area of 1,419 square kilometres (548 square miles) and include nine mountain ranges.
At least 18 peaks of the Dolomites have an elevation greater than 3,000 metres (9,843 feet).
At an elevation of 3,343 metres (10,968 feet), Punta Penia, of the Marmolada range, is the tallest peak of the Dolomites.
The name Dolomites comes from the French geologist Dieudonne Dolomieu. He identified the calcium-rich rock, and it was named in his honour: Dolomite. This mineral can be found all over the Dolomites, and it’s what gives the mountains their tooth-like colour and texture.
Although the research isn’t completely conclusive, dolomite could have some incredible health benefits when administered as a supplement. After being ground up, the stone acts as an effective vehicle to deliver calcium and magnesium and can help with heartburn. It can also strengthen bones.
The light grey rocks of the Dolomites are mostly sedimentary rocks, such as limestone, and dolomite. The area is famous for its quantity and quality of fossil reef specimens.
Various sporting activities can be undertaken in the Dolomites region, including mountain climbing, skiing, cycling, paragliding, and hiking.
The region attracts all kinds of visitors, from people looking to get away from the city to serious outdoorsmen.
The Dolomites area was a battlefield during World War I, with fighting going on between Austro-Hungary and Italy. Evidence of the war can still be seen in the region.
The Dolomite Mountains have been scarred with the Via Ferrata or “Iron Paths”. The paths were created in World War I to assist the Italian military units as they travelled through the mountains to fight their enemies. The paths were used again in World War II. Today, the path is still lined with wire cables, ladders, and beaten paths – thus the name, Iron Paths.
The Dolomites have an alpine climate. This consists of rainy springs, short cool summers, dry falls, and long snowy winters.
Weather forecasts in the Dolomites are fairly accurate over a two or three-day prediction period. Perfect for planning your outdoor adventures.
This mountain range is well-populated with people living in villages in five Italian provinces.
In addition to speaking Italian and German, the people who live in the Dolomites have their own language called Ladino after the Ladin people, who have lived there since the Bronze Age.
Today, about 30,000 people speak Ladino as their first language.
The Ladin people love nature and either live in or commute to and from the cabins spattered across the Dolomite valleys. Some cabins are placed strategically, in the spots where cattle would huddle during lightning storms.
Culture in the Dolomites also places a heavy emphasis on handicrafts (such as woodcarving and leatherwork), food and wine unique to the region, music, and appreciation and conservation of nature.
The main north-south road through the Dolomites is called the Campolongo Pass.
English mountaineers first climbed the peaks of the Dolomites in the 1860s and 1870s.
The Vajont Dam in the southern Dolomites has over spilled twice due to heavy rain. On one occasion in 1963, this caused the local village of Longarone to drown and over 2,500 people were killed in the tragedy.
The Dolomites attract luxury and celebrities. Roger Moore’s James Bond whizzed down the ski slopes in the 1981 film “For Your Eyes Only”, but this grandeur and clientele don’t overwhelm the region.
Travellers looking for posh ski resorts will be right at home, as will those seeking rough adventures.
The spectacularly preserved ice mummy Otzi was unearthed in 1991 on the Similaun Glacier, deep in the heart of the Dolomites. Originally it was speculated that Otzi died of exposure or natural causes, but investigation proved that he was shot with an arrow.
Want to see the famous iceman yourself? Visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy.