History of the Dolomites

The name Dolomites comes from the French naturalist “Déodat de Dolomieu” who was the first to study the particular type of rock that compose it. The Dolomia, in fact, from Dolomieu consists of double carbonate of calcium and magnesium. The shaping dates back to 250 million years ago at the time of the Triassic period for the build-up of shells, calcareous algae and type corals tropical seas that were not present in the dolomites. The clash between the African and the European plate led to these rocks to emerge and rise up to three thousand meters above sea level.

The Dolomites are still rising and have an angular surface full of differences in height. The vegetation consists of conifers and cirmolo and mughi woods. They are bounded on the north by Rienza and the Val Pusteria, to the west from the Isarco and the Adige with the the namesake valley, to the south from the Brenta where the chain of the Lagorai comes off on the border of the Val di Fiemme and towards east of the Piave and Cadore.

The most famous places are Cortina d’Ampezzo at Conca Ampezzo, Ortisei and Selva di Val Gardena into Val Gardena, Canazei into Val di Fassa, Falcade and Canale d’Agordo into Valle del Biois, Cavalese into Val di Fiemme, San Martino di Castrozza into Primiero, Arabba into the Livinallongo valley, Corvara into Val Badia, Pinzolo and Madonna di Campiglio into Val Rendena.

The highest peak of the mountains is Marmolada with its 3343 meters above sea level. It is made up of white limestone derived from coral reefs and from parts of volcanic material. Masterpiece of nature are the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, they are part of the Dolomites of Sesto, are they show off as three towers or three overturned fingers pointing towards the sky. They can be reached from Lago di Misurina, from Val di Sesto, from Auronzo di Cadore and from the natural park of the Dolomites of Sesto. The highest peak is the central one (2.999mt), the average is located to the west (2,973mt) and the last is the lowest one. Le Tre Cime can be admired from Monte Piana del Torre Toblin and from Monte Patreno.

In addition to the Marmolada and Tre Cime di Lavaredo you can admire Civetta, Soparis and Nuvolaris. The Dolomites offer a 500 km cross-country ski tracks that start from Misurina to get up to Sappada and Auronzo. It is worth a visit the Altopiano di Asiago situated between the rivers Brenta and Astico with the charming town of Asiago with its monuments and pleasant climate that gives the area cool summers and snow covered winters Thanks to their spas, Recoaro Mille and Tonezza del Cimone are the ideal popular locations for all those who look for a quiet place to stay.

The Park of the Dolomites

The park established in 1990 extends over 11.200 hectares, starting to the north from the town of Cortina and includes the territory of the Veneto on the borderline with Alto Adige in the heart of the eastern Dolomites. The park is a monitored natural protected area rich of flora and fauna; it is possible to visit it with pre-defined routes and organized tours.

Inside the park you can taste typical products such as cheese made from milk of the cows raised in the area. Deserve a visit the waterfalls of Rio Fanese at Rufiedo springs, the Felizòn and del Boite. Once upon a time, the area allowed access from Italy to Austria and Germany and was it used by the Venetian merchants in their trade with Northern Europe. Proofs of this age are the ruins of the Pedestagno castle whose construction dates back to 1000. Owned by the Patriarch of Acquileia before the Serenissima and then to the Emperor of Austria; for centuries it was the defense of chiusa del Boite on the north of Cortina and abandoned since 1800 onwards.

Cortina d’Ampezzo is located in the heart of Valle d’Ampezzo, the location allows a unique view because it is completely surrounded by the Dolomites. The surrounding mountains are: Pomagagnon, Tofane, Cristallo, Caloria, Sorapiss, il Becco di Mezzodì, la Croda da Lago and le Cinque Torri.

It is assumed that Conca Ampezzana was inhabited by the ancient Veneti. In the sixth century b.C. it was influenced by the etruscan to pass late on under the Roman domination. During the Middle Ages it passed from the Lombards domination to that of Franks to be finally controlled by the patriarchate of Acquileia. In 1420, it was conquered by the Republic of Venice in which the mutual affinity of the language and trade allowed Venice the supply of timber that was used for the construction of its fleet. In 1531, it was included into the Archduchy of Tyrol and, in 1600, it passed under Habsburg domination. During the first World War, it was the scene of bitter fighting among the Italian and Austrian troops which ended with the inclusion into the Kingdom of Italy.

Cortina has a typical Alps climate with cool summers and cold and snowy winters. Due to its location and beautiful views, since the early ‘900 it was the destination of the first tourists who came to take refuge from the hot cities summers or to practice the first ski slopes. In 1921, the Dolomites railway opened. In 1956, it hosted the Olympic Winter Games that allowed the construction of the Olympic ski-jump of Zuèl.

In the sixties with the economic boom, Cortina knew the mass tourism that made it famous not only in Italy but also worldwide. It is now a destination for elite tourism which brings together the most important names of the international jet set. On the famous main street which goes through the town, it is easy to walk into the most important political, financial and show business celebrities.

From 26/06/09, the Dolomiti have been included by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.