Northeast Italy - 2013

The Dolomites

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini

The Dolomites are one of the most impressive mountain landscapes in the world.  Originally known as the “pale mountains”, they got their name from the French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu who first described the whitish-grey rock in the 18th century. The dolomite is responsible for the forms of the “otherworldly and majestic peaks that claw and scratch at the sky”.

Above and right, La Marmolada,  at 10,968 feet, is the highest peak.  It has chairlifts that make it accessible year round.

Nine ranges of mountains are in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a national park and several regional parks.  In northeast Italy, the Dolomites border both Austria and Switzerland.

The rocky peaks contrast with the forests and meadows below.  There are long valleys with many lakes and rivers.  They take many forms:  some are broad with gentle foothills; others, narrow with steep sides.

The Cascate di Nardis is 300 feet high and fed by a glacier.

Nomads were native to the Dolomites as early as 8000 BC. The permanent settlements date to the Iron Age and Ötzi, the 5000 year old Iron Man, is in Bolzano now.  The Romans occupied the area in 15 BC and built a road through the Brenner Pass in the 2nd century AD.  As the primary route between Italy and the north, controlling the pass was strategic for trade and several invasions.

There are many medieval castles.  Austria ruled the area for long periods and the population is officially trilingual - Ladin, Italian and German.

Merano has a milder climate and is a famous spa resort and skiing and climbing center.  It began as a Roman road station and developed into a city favored by the Austrian royalty and intellectuals such as Freud, Pound and Kafka. 

The villages, towns and small cities throughout the Dolomites are dominated by Tyrolian architecture. Besides being a tourist mecca, the area is important agriculturally.

San Virgilio church near Pinzolo has a famous fresco of the Dance of Death from 1539.

The Dolomites’ unspoiled beauty is complimented by its many recreational activities:  skiing, hiking and walking, climbing, paragliding, bicycling, and golf.  There is ample opportunity for shopping and relaxing in many places.   

Cortina d’Ampezzo was the site of the Winter Olympics in 1956

The photographs were taken with Leicas, the M8 and M9.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  We can be contacted at   Our home page is

January 23, 2014                                                                                                                                                                             wgfm                                                          

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