|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.|
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.
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.|
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.|
|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.|
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." ; )|
|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.|
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.|
|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.|
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!
- Spectacular summer in the Dolomites with Gary P. Scott
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."