Val Gardena, in the province of Bolzano, is a world-renowned ski-resorts area during winter and the perfect location for hiking and rock climbing during summer. The “king of the eight-thousanders” Reinhold Messner has conquered all the highest mountains on the planet, but he has a special attraction for the Dolomites that surround Val Gardena: “They are not the highest, but they are certainly the most beautiful mountains around the world”. The rocky cliffs cover the spectrum of colors from bright yellow in the morning to fiery red at sunset, and then soften to shades of violet until they disappear into the night darkness. The alpine meadows and ski pistes rise up to 8,260 feet and the mountains peak up to 10,436 feet.
The towns of Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva Gardena (in all only 6 miles distance) offer beautiful nature, and a wide variety of art and culture. Val Gardena is the Dolomite-valley par excellence and the “pallid mountains” with their high peaks, steep rocks and breathtaking views are directly reachable from the villages.
Great climbers like the Viennese Paul Grohmann (1838–1908), the first to climb to the top of Tofana de Rozes near Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Sassolungo in Val Gardena and the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in the Sesto Dolomites, loved these mountains and wrote about them in numerous publications.
During winter, the Dolomites are a paradise for skiers. Val Gardena is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a circuit of 745 miles of scenic ski trails.
Sella Ronda is the most recognized ski route of the Dolomites. It is a loop that runs around the massif of the Sella mountain range. This route can easily be accomplished in one day.
The architect, actor, and movie director Luis Trenker (1892-1990), who was born in Ortisei at the foot of the incomparable Sassolungo, documented his passion for these mountains in numerous books and films, which became known worldwide. Thanks to Trenker, the rocky shapes of the Dolomites became known for the first time on an international level.
Le Corbusier (Switzerland-France 1887–1965), perhaps the greatest contemporary architect, saw in the Dolomites “the most beautiful natural architecture worldwide”.
French geologist Déodat de Dolomieu was the one who, in 1790, analyzed the mineral and chemical composition of dolomite rock. Since that time it has been called “dolomite.” The Dolomites had their origins in a prehistoric tropical sea. About 250 million years ago, the present-day arc of the Alps was part of the continent Pangea, which was located far to the south, in the Earth’s tropical zone. Given the presence of mollusks, algae, coral and fish, this area saw massive limestone production. Due to volcanic activity and the consequent outpouring of basaltic magma, these organisms died off on a massive scale and were deposited on the seabed. This is why today the Dolomites are a paradise for fossil researchers.
Following the Ice Age the surface of the Dolomites began to be formed, and water proved to be a skillful and imaginative sculptor. One of the marvels to emerge from the unique mineralogical composition of the Dolomites is undoubtedly the phenomenon known as “Enrosadira”. The presence of calcium carbonate and manganese in the dolomite causes the mountains to glow with an intense red color at sunset. Enrosadira is unique to the Dolomites and is definitely one of nature’s most spectacular sights. The unusual shapes of the Dolomites and their ever-changing colors have fired the imagination of those who have lived here for thousands of years and have always inspired myths and legends.
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