26 August 2012

A Visit to the Dolomites Mountains in Northern Italy

The mountain splendor of the Dolomites in northern Italy. This spectacular view is Canazei atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa. All photography unless noted is property of Kari Moers. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The mountain splendor of the Dolomites in northern Italy. This spectacular view is Canazei atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa. All photography unless noted is property of Kari Moers. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Alpine grandeur and mountain meadows serve as a most dramatic backdrop for this tour though the heart of the Italian Dolomites or Dolomiti as they are known locally, and cradled within its soaring peaks, you'll find enchanting villages replete with picturesque architecture, warm and welcoming hospitality, and some of the most spectacular views of the majestic mountains! Our intrepid tour guide and guest photographer is Kari Moers who recently visited the Dolomites and offered to share her adventures with EuroTravelogue. After seeing her photos, it's hard to believe we're in northern Italy and not Austria or Hungary. Follow us through Santa Cristina, Canazei, Alpe di Siusi, Ortisei—among others, and you'll soon find out why the Dolomites Mountains are one of Europe's top destinations in both the summer and winter! Then find out more about Kari at the end of this article. But now, we embark on an Alpine journey through the Dolomites!

Alpe di Siusi


Alpe di Siusi—the highest Alpine meadow in ALL of Europe.
Alpe di Siusi—the highest Alpine meadow in ALL of Europe.

Our first stop takes us to the westernmost region of our tour, Alpe di Siusi—the highest Alpine meadow in ALL of Europe. Trekkers touring through this region are rewarded with jaw-dropping views of splendid mountain scenery as they blaze their way through the mountain passes. And every now and then along the way, they find themselves surrounded by sublime Alpine meadows blanketed with vibrant blooms and bursting with color. Oh, and be on the lookout for a grazing cow or two as well.


Dolomites quartet play their Alphorns or Alpenhorns, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century if not earlier when they were used to call the cattle back to the barns and for communication. Today, many Alpine locals keep the tradition alive by performing in concerts around the region and the world.
Dolomites quartet play their Alphorns or Alpenhorns, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century if not earlier when they were used to call the cattle back to the barns and for communication. Today, many Alpine locals keep the tradition alive by performing in concerts around the region and the world.  

Here's an immersion into the  sounds of a Tyrolean evening concert of chorus, Alpenhorn and cow bells—certainly transports you to the romantic ambience of the Alps!

In the wintertime, the landscape changes dramatically to become a snow-covered wonderland that beckons not only skiers but snowboarders, snowshoe hikers and those seeking toboggan-runs thrills! Throughout the region, there are more than 365 Alpine huts and refuges; some offering food, refreshments and even accommodations; in addition to a place to rest for a spell during an exciting day of hiking in the Dolomites.

Ortisei Val Gardena


Ortisei—the largest of all the villages in Val Gardena. This photo only: L30 via WikiMedia.org.
Ortisei—the largest of all the villages in Val Gardena. This photo only: L30 via WikiMedia.org.

Moving east from the splendor of Alpe di Siusi, we arrive in the Val Gardena region and the town of Ortisei, Italy—the largest of all the villages in Val Gardena. Fueling Ortisei's economy is skiing, hiking and woodcarving—actually many villages throughout the Dolomites are renowned for their woodcarving industries. In the winter, Ortisei is one of the most popular stops along the Sella Ronda ski circuit and in the summer, a hiker's paradise through soaring mountaintops that will leave you breathless literally as well as figuratively. If hiking doesn't appeal to you, seek out the cable car in the village centre and climb to astounding views of the Secada Mountains and the Alpe di Siusi!


Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel dates back to the 19th century.
Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel dates back to the 19th century.

Down in the village, this picturesque Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel dates back to the 19th century and is steeped in Tyrolean culture and traditions. Its Austrian ambience thrives to this day and its warm and welcoming interiors enchant all who stay there.


Blooms bursting with vibrant color on this enchanting street in Ortisei.
Blooms bursting with vibrant color on this enchanting street in Ortisei. 

Santa Cristina Gherdëina


Perhaps the most picturesque of all Alpine villages in the Dolomites Mountains is Santa Cristina Gherdëina or Gröden, as it is known locally. This photo only: Dmitry A. Mottl via Wikimedia.org.
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Perhaps the most picturesque of all Alpine villages in the Dolomites Mountains is Santa Cristina Gherdëina or Gröden, as it is known locally. This photo only: Dmitry A. Mottl via Wikimedia.org.

In the heart of our tour through the Dolomites lies one of the most picturesque Alpine villages of all—Santa Cristina Gherdëina or known as Gröden locally. To her one side, mountain slopes climb to soaring heights, while to the other, hillsides plunge to the bottom of lush valleys; and in the background, the majesty of the mountain massif!

Santa Cristina is renowned for its ANRI woodcarving since the 19th century.
Santa Cristina is renowned for its ANRI woodcarving since the 19th century.

Renowned for its ANRI woodcarving since the 19th century, Santa Cristina owes a lot to Alois Riffeser who first traveled through Europe to sell wood-carved toys and figurines from the Gröden Valley. It's no wonder that Santa Cristina is home to the world's largest hand-carved Nativity! Find out more about the fascinating woodworks of ANRI.

Village view of Ortisei in the Dolomites Mountains. This photo only: L30 via WikiMedia.org.
Village view of Ortisei in the Dolomites Mountains. This photo only: L30 via WikiMedia.org.

Soaking the local color and traditions, this is one of many festivals that Kari attended.
Soaking the local color and traditions, this is one of many festivals that Kari attended.

But all that shines is not finely-carved wood, because Santa Cristina's vibrant community comes alive with myriad cultural festivals, most of which are free such as one above honoring the traditions and customs of days gone by—an enriching Ortisei Val Gardena experience for all.

Selva di Val Gardena


Renowned as one of the Alps' premier ski destinations, Selva di Val Gardena is a hiker's dream come true.
Renowned as one of the Alps' premier ski destinations, Selva di Val Gardena is a hiker's dream come true.

Despite its renown for being one of the Alps' premier ski destinations, Selva di Val Gardena is a hiker's dream come true! Surrounded by the Sella and Sassolungo mountains, Selva offers thrill seekers a variety of challenges along these Dolomites Mountain trails. If you're not into hiking, no worries, just climb onboard one of the many cable cars and sit back and relax as you fly through sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding mountainscapes.


Looks like the 'cows have finally come home.' ; )
Looks like the "cows have finally come home." ; ) 

Some Alpine friends Kari met in the mountains.
Some Alpine friends Kari met in the mountains. 

Each morning, our tour guide Kari enjoyed watching the farmers escort their cows up to the mountain pastures and then back down in the late afternoon.

Canazei Val di Fassa


Hikers revel in the staggering views of the Dolomites Mountains at every turn of the trail! Welcome to Canazei as seen from atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa.
Hikers revel in the staggering views of the Dolomites Mountains at every turn of the trail! Welcome to Canazei as seen from atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa.

Moving to the southernmost point in our tour of the Dolomites, we arrive in Canazei, Italy, renowned for its place in the Sella Ronda ski circuit—one of best in all the Alps. A visit in the spring and summer rewards hikers with staggering views of the Dolomites mountains around every turn of the trail!


Welcome to the Alpine village of Canazei replete with enchanting architecture against the stunning mountain backdrop. This photo only: Dmitry A. Mottl via WikiMedia.org.
Welcome to the Alpine village of Canazei replete with enchanting architecture against the stunning mountain backdrop. This photo only: Dmitry A. Mottl via WikiMedia.org. 

The charming Hotel Dolomiti Canazei, built in 1909, harkens back to the days when the Dolomites belonged to the Austria-Hungary Empire.
The charming Hotel Dolomiti Canazei, built in 1909, harkens back to the days when the Dolomites belonged to the Austria-Hungary Empire.

Down in the village, the quaint and charming Hotel Dolomiti Canazei, built in 1909, harkens back to the days when the Dolomites belonged to the Austria-Hungary Empire and is just as magnificent on the inside as well.

Corvara Alta Badia


Our final stop on our tour through the Italian Dolomites is Corvara with its stunning views of Alta Badia, the Marmolada glacier and even the Austrian Alps.
Our final stop on our tour through the Italian Dolomites is Corvara with its stunning views of Alta Badia, the Marmolada glacier and even the Austrian Alps.

The last stop on our grand tour and ironically a great place to begin your hiking adventures through the Dolomites Mountains is in Corvara, the easternmost village with stunning views of Alta Badia, the Marmolada glacier and even the Austrian Alps!

Whether it's summer or winter, the grandeur of Dolomites Mountains in northern Italy offers hikers and skiers thrilling trails, sublime vistas, warm Alpine hospitality with some of the finest cuisine in Italy. From the Alpe di Suise in the west to Corvara and the Austrian Alps in the east, there are many mountainscapes to discover in this northernmost region of Italy. I hope you enjoyed this tour through the Italian Dolomites.

Tips to know before you go

  • Most of these villages lie within 40 km. or 25 miles from Alpe di Siuis in the west to Corvara in the east. Another 22 km. or 14 miles south, you'll find Canazei. Various routes run through the area but a good place to start is SP64, SS48 and SS242. Grab your maps and GPS and andiamo!
  • English is not spoken widely in this region of Italy so it's time to brush up on your Italian, German or Ladin—a language derived from "vulgar Latin," leftover from the days of the Roman occupation, and blended with dialects from the surrounding countries. When I travel, I make it a priority to learn the most common expressions and then engage the locals while I am there. Not only do they appreciate your effort, there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you start sounding like one of them—carpe diem.
  • Be extremely cautious when driving the narrow mountain roads and finally, have a wondrous journey through the Dolomites Mountains in Italy. Arrivederci!

Additional Reading

More about Kari Moers

"We left the US when I was in my early 20s to be a member of the private flight crew for Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal. I was so blessed to travel all over the world during my 12 years working in Saudi—especially blessed with stays in Europe where the aircrafts additionally spent time in maintenance.

Of all my travels, it is Europe that touches my soul. The architecture, museums and churches across Europe are a sight to see! Our last trip to the Dolomites was to attend the 2010 Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, and from there, we toured Munich, the Dolomites, Innsbruck and Venice. But the Dolomites were far more beautiful than any of us expected and I cannot wait to return."

67 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous collection of photos.Hat's off, once again, Jeff

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    1. Hi there Marlys and thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words. I will be sure to pass along your compliments to Kari who so kindly shared them with me for this post!

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  2. Wow!! The views there are stunning..
    Very beautiful photos, makes me want to visit the mountains again

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    1. Hi Tiffany and thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind compliments!!! H
      Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  3. I've been to Italy but haven't been to the Dolomites. With my love of mountains and hiking, this looks like a beautiful area to explore!

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    1. Hi there Jeremy and thanks so much for stopping by. I too share in your love of the mountains and the Dolomites is definitely a great place to trek thru stunning scenery and enchanting villages.

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  4. I'm going to Alpe di Siusi on Wednesday. It will be my first time in the Dolomites and your post has me totally pumped for it.

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    1. Hi there Laurel...I am so jealous that you and Simon will be there. I really look forward to all your updates. Thank you so much for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post!

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  5. Ooh, now that I've seen these gorgeous photos I'm really regretting I'll only be in Venice a few days in September, not enough time to 'do' the Dolomites by the looks of it, though it's recommended as a side trip. LOVE the alpenhorn pic, reminds me of my son's old Richard Scarry books:)

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    1. Hi there Lesley! On my last visit to Venice, we almost did the day trip to the Dolomites but the seduction of Venice held us back and we explored the city inside and out. Thx so much for stopping by and for your recommendation as a great side trip when visiting Venice!

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  6. I would LOVE to visit the Dolomites! The mountains are unusual and so picturesque. The pictures you included are fantastic. The alp horn and cows are 2 of my favorites ;)

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    1. Hi there Debbie and thank you so much for stopping by!! Let's visit the Dolomites together and really soak up the culture and atmosphere!! I too love the alpenhorn...great pic...and I just had to find a video to accompany it! ; )

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  7. Perfect timing for this post! My mom and I just decided to do a trip together next summer to the Dolomites in Italy - it's been on her bucket list for a loooong time - and this post gave me lots of ideas on where we must visit while there. Gorgeous pictures. I'm even more excited to go now!

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    1. Hi there Gina and what exciting news! I can wait to get all the updates and hear about your experience! Thx so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and excitement.

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  8. I haven't been to the Dolomites but am always intrigued by photos of them because they look so beautiful. Like Jeremy, I would love to hike there one day. Thank you to you and Kari.

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    1. Hi there Jenna and thx so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Perhaps all of us could go hiking there together one day!

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  9. Thank you for that amazing tour of the Dolomites. The landscapes and villages are picture perfect -- just as I imagine that area to look. I would love to hear a quartet playing their Alphorns while looking at the gorgeous scenery.

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    1. Hi Cathy!

      You are incredibly welcome my friend and I couldn't agree with you more about these picture-perfect villages! Simply enchanting. And yes, those Alpenhorn complete the picture and that's why I included the video. It's wonderful!

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  10. Hi Jeff, just discovered your blog and I really enjoy it. Thanks for taking me to the Dolomites through your beautiful narratives and accompanying photos. Dolomites is much more beautiful than I imagined. Didn't realized it used to be part of Astro-Hungarian empire. No wonder the structures look very Tyrolean. I love learning something new each day:)

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    1. Hi there Marisol and thank you so much for your kind words and for stopping by! I am so glad you enjoyed this post and my site. I had just as much fun writing this as you did reading it. The entire region is spectacular and charming at the same time. Please stop by again.

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  11. Lovely photos Jeff! I so badly want to go there now!

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    1. Hi there Charu and thank you so much for your kind words. I will be sure to share them with Kari!

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  12. Great photos, Jeff! You've inspired me to visit a whole new lot of Dolomites mountain towns. We spend a lot of time in Cortina but now we've got a new list of charming places to see.

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    1. Hi there Jennifer and thanks so much for stopping by. Indeed you should return to the Dolomites...so much to see.

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  13. I've been skiing in the Val Gardena for years now, staying in Ortisei. All those places bring beautiful memories to mind and I hope to return thi winter.

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    1. Hi there Linda!! Wow, you really know the Dolomites and it's no wonder you return to this beautiful mountain country all the time! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experiences!

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  14. I was blown away by the photography. Please pass on my appreciation to Kari as well Jeff.

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    1. Hi there John and thanks so much for stopping by to share your kind compliements. I will be sure to pass them on to Kari!

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  15. Wow!!! This looks so quaint and beautiful. I thought only Austria had those men wearing hats with the big horns ;)

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    1. Hi there Leslie and thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts! I too was surprised by these enchanting Alpine images and the people.

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  16. I just love the photos and the Alphorns, great to listen to and reflect seeing the beauty of the mountains. Impressive sounds they are :)

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    1. Hi there Doc,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to share your comments. I loved listening to them too...Oh how I would love to experience it in person!

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  17. I got as far as the Tour du Mont Blanc takes you in Italy last summer but the Dolomites still beckon - even more so after reading this post. Actually after gawking at the sublime photos. Wonderful.

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    1. Hi there Leigh and thanks so much for stopping by! I can totally relate to your feelings my friend...sublime scenery doesn't begin to describe the beauty of the Dolomites!

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  18. I was just there. Absolutely breathtaking!! Great photos. The Alps in the Lake District are also equally as captivating.

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    1. Hi there Romina and thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. I bet it was beautiful! Never been to the Lake District but it's on my bucket list of dreams I tell you. Can't wait to explore your site as well!

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  19. Great post! Check out mine on the dolomites: Transatingdreams.wordpress.com
    Thanks for the great read. Little Austria in Italy....

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    1. Hi there and thx so much for stopping by. Not able to see many of your posts on your site. The content appears hidden for some reason but thank you so much for stopping by and I agree, Little Austria in Italy!

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  20. I have somewhere a photo from South Tirol! And nice Alpenhorns or Alphorns. Happy playing to these musicians!

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    1. Hello there my friend friend and thank you once again for stopping by to share your thoughts and experiences. Would love to see your photo of Tyrol. I too, love the Alpenhorns!! Enchanting!

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  21. Great post Jeff! I was in Italy last year but didn't have the time to reach these, I think i will have to return. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Hi there Ardun and thx so much for stopping by! I plan to visit much more of the Dolomites when I return to Italy! Thank you for your kind compliments and I love your site! Following you on Twitter as well! Thx again.

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  22. Wow this one is an awesome and so much informative post. Photos are lovely too. Thank you for sharing. Would love to visit here someday.

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    1. Hi there Nikhil and thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words!!

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  23. Great share. Nice photos and an exhaustive post.

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    1. Greetings Luxury Train and thanks for stopping by. Loved writing every word of it.

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  24. Wow. This is unbelievable. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi there Sheldon and thank you so much for your kind words. I agree, the Dolomites are a spectacular region of Italy that all should see when they visit Italy!

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  25. Was trying to book tour to Dolomite Mountains but changed my mind...i am afraid of mountain roads..could you please tell me - hw dangerous the roads are in that area?

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    1. Hi there my Anonymous friend. I have checked with the experts and I can assure you that the roads are not only safe but offer spectacular scenery around curve. In their own words, " The roads in the #Dolomites are well made & well maintained. Great scenery, too!"

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  26. Hi Jeff,

    I can always count on your wonderful posts to take me away in words and pictures, and for that -- a hearty thank you.

    On my first visit to the Dolomites, my travel partner and I navigated a one-lane switch-back mountain road up, up, up -- while an autumn rain pelted us and surrounded us with misty cloud cover. We arrived at our 350-year-old gasthof (guest house), had a hearty meal in the attached pub, and went to bed.

    I awoke at dawn to the sound of cowbells and a rooster. Walking out on my balcony, my knees went weak at the most stunning and breathtaking view I had ever seen. Layer upon layer of peaks lay out in the distance. I was in the sky! Having arrived in the rainstorm the night before, I had no idea of our amazing location.

    It is a vision I hold so near and dear to my heart, and I know I'll return to Gasthof Locher, room #12, someday soon.

    Wishing you happy and safe travels always and all ways,
    Josie

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    1. WOW Josie!!! I can't tell you much a post like this means to me!!! You are so welcome my friend and thank you for your kind words! That hearty meal must have been divine ... especially after enduring the rainy weather. And love your anecdotes too, they really add more "flavor" to this article!! Thank you again for stopping by!

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    1. Thank you so much my friend!! Really appreciate you stopping and your kind compliments!!

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  28. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking and I would love to consider it for my next holiday trip. Thank you for the information.

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    1. HI there and thank you so much for stopping by!

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  29. I m looking for some mountain pics for my house. Pics for myself, not for resale. Is it possible to buy some pics here either as a reproduction poster or in quality digital format? Pls let me know...
    Alex
    baroni10@gmail.com

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    1. Sorry I entered my email wrong: it is: baroniq10@gmail.com

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    2. Hi there my friend. Some of these are low resolution but seek out the WikiPedia images, free since public domain. Also, if you visit fotalia.com, you can purchase HIGH RES images from there for nominal $$$$. Let me know if you need more help. Thanks, Jeff

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  30. I fully agree with all above statements: Dolomites are totally awesome, irrespectively the season! Love it in the winter and in the summer! And last August went to see one of the largest glaciers: Marmolada.

    http://nullnfull.com/2013/09/23/marmolada-glacier/

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    1. Hi there Agata!! Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your tips about the glacier!! Looks absolutely amazing!

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    2. What a magnificent part of the world! Definitely makes me want to hop on a plane and head over there to the Dolomites!

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    3. Doreen, I am with you!! Let's go!! Thanks so much for stopping by!!

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  31. Hi Jeff - I love this piece and the great photos in particular. I haven't been since I was a kid but now I want to go back!

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    1. Thanks so much my friend but all photography credit in this post save the WikiMedia ones, goes to my friend Kari from Pencarrow NZ. I just had to write about the Dolomites and the villages after seeing her enchanting photos! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

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  32. Beautiful pictures. I love these mountainous regions of Italy. I'm heading to Bolzano in about a week for a visit as I've heard wonderful things!

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    1. Hi there Jennifer and thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words! I love the Dolomites too!! Can't wait to hear all about your travels to Bolzano. Please stop by and share a pic or a story.

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!