The Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage site is a mountainous range in Northern Italy. Featuring breathtaking (snow-capped) mountain peaks, stunning winding scenic roads, thousands of kilometres of hiking trails, mountain lakes and charming little towns scattered across a vast landscape, the Dolomites are without a doubt the most spectacular mountain range in Italy.
The history of the Dolomites
Named after the 18th century French geologist Dieudonne Dolomieu who made the first scientific study of the Dolomite region and its geology. The main peaks were first climbed in the 1860s by English mountaineers.
A tranquil and calming natural environment, you wouldn’t think the Dolomites hosted such turbulent and violent war between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces during the First World War. Today, as a memorial, the most extensive museum of this wartime period was established, the open-air museums of Mt. Lagazuoi, 5 Torri, the Sas de Stria and the Fortress Forte Tre Sassi, all create one of the most impressive walks in the Dolomites – a perfect combination of nature and history, walking the trenches of the soldiers.
What makes the Dolomites so special and where is there to go?
The reasons are endless. Stretching across 350,000 acres, there are eighteen mountain peaks that rise to more than 3,050 metres – the highest point being Marmolada at 3,342 metres. A popular travel destination across all seasons, whether you choose to ski during Winter or participate adventure sports or walking in the warmer months, the Dolomites will take your breath away by its vast beauty and awe-inspiring landscape.
In the heart of the Dolomites, in the Cadore Valley lies Cortina d’Ampezzo. Often referred to as the Queen of The Dolomites, Cortina is a fashionable ski resort town renowned for its beautiful historical centre and as a hub for the many sporting and recreational activities the surrounding mountains offer. Boasting 140kms of ski slopes, it is definitely the destination to enjoy in the winter while absorbing all the glitz and glamour, as its quite popular with celebrities. The summer season sees rock climbers, mountain bikers and walkers descend to escape the heat in the cool pristine mountain environment. Host of the 1956 Winter Olympic Games, Cortina d’Ampezzo will again host the Winter Games, seventy years on, in 2026.
If road trips are your thing, the Great Dolomites Road (Grande Strada delle Dolomiti) is a series of scenic windy roads passing through the three regions of the Dolomites; South Tyrol, Trentino and Veneto. Built between 1901 and 1909, the Great Dolomites Road runs 145kms long and is an amazing way to explore the Dolomites. The scenic winding roads and hairpin turns are popular with car enthusiasts as well as being a mecca for cyclists. The annual Giro d’Italia, considered one of the Grand Tours of road cycling, often has stages along the Great Dolomites Road with many high mountain passes earning the title of ‘Cima Coppi’ the highest point of the race.
A museum in the clouds boasting breathtaking 360° panoramic views
The Messner Mountain Museum (MMM) is not one but six museums in unique locations spread throughout South Tyrol and the Dolomites. MMM was founded by Reinhold Messner, a famous mountain climber and polar trekker born and raised in the Dolomites. Renowned for his pioneering and difficult ascents of the world’s highest mountain peaks, Reinhold Messner was the first person to climb all fourteen of the world’s highest mountain peaks over 8000m without the assistance of oxygen. Messner, was introduced to mountaineering by his father, and from the age of thirteen had made many difficult climbs in the Dolomites. The museums can be visited individually or as a series with each showcasing a different theme of embodying the relationship with the mountains, culture and nature. Visit the museums in these unique locations to hear of Messner’s amazing story, it will leave you inspired to enjoy a scenic hike during your visit.
How to Discover the Dolomites
Want to visit this beautiful mountainous destination – Vita Italian Tours can take you there on their exclusive Northern Lakes & Dolomites small group tour to explore and experience some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe. The Dolomites welcome visitors to an oasis of peace and tranquillity in an unspoiled landscape, as well as time to enjoy the Italian lakes of Lake Como and Lake Garda.
If the tour dates do not fit with your travel plans or independent travel is more your style, why not let Vita Italian Tours plan a tailor-made self-drive or chauffeur driven private itinerary/tour for you.
Contact us to enquire today.