Among the Alps, the Dolomites Mountains are undoubtedly the most spectacular mountains, due to their shape and beauty. Those peculiar characteristics make them the most famous and admired mountains in the world.
Their nickname pale mountains fits the bill. The Dolomites ranges span on an enchanted region, where time flows with its own rhythm and visitors can be surprised by their magic views that, out of the blue, appear in front of their eyes. As the day grows into the night the range changes in color.
Their landscape offer rocks, woods and meadows, making the Dolomites a natural heaven, still, luckily, well preserved and protected. Their nickname is due to the pale color displayed at dawn, ready to mute into a pinkish hue to end the day kissed by the sun’s last rays which, especially in wintertime, turned into hot reds, a vivid contrast against a blue sky dotted by white clouds. The Dolomites change as the seasons do. Light reflects on them in an array of ever changing colors that leaves the spectator in awe.
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Visitors can be surprised as abruptly as the light changes after a summer storm in late August, heralding the forthcoming Fall. Every year, travelers flock to these areas to take in the fall foliage, to catch a glimpse of nature's splendor of leaves from beech trees, for example, whose yellow enriches the contrast between them and the dark outline of the crode, the impending rugged cliffs from above. Beyond that, it is possible to enjoy streaks of indigo as the day fades into some cold November frosty nights. Comes Winter and the snow changes once again their landscape: immaculate blankets of snow are towered by the Dolomites famous peaks: Antelao, Pelmo, Spalti del Toro, Marmarole, the Cime di Lavaredo, Marmolada, Sorapiss, Sciliar, Civetta, Cristallo, Sassolungo, Torri di Vajolet, Tofane, Gruppo dello Schiara and the other ranges.
One can consider the Dolomites Mountains as a range or as individual peaks, nothing diminishes their beauty. Their distinctive geology can be identified as one looks at their rock walls. The geological origin dates back some 230 million years when the rock was deposited in the form of marine sediments and coral in a low open sea. Much later, around 65 million years ago, the rocks were lifted high up by various tectonic events, and the Alps came into existence. There are towers, pinnacles, and spires that stand up abruptly at high altitude zones beyond the tree line, where even pines, moss and lichens are gone. It almost looks like their peaks are there to shelter their valleys from the winds, as they close the view at the horizon, above awesome woods which lead the way to their villages, enchanting with their mix of culture and architecture.
The area spreads between Italy and Austria, south of Lienz because the Dolomites Mountains are geographically and culturally at a crossroads between Italy to the south and Tyrol to the north. On the Italian side the area is widely populated, with villages that belong to five Italian provinces: Belluno, Bolzano, Trento all the way to Friulian Dolomites in Carnia, in the province of Udine and Pordenone.
The region has been inhabited for more than eight thousand years, but it is in the last 150 years that it gained widespread popularity, thanks to the interests among those who like to go there for rock climbing or hiking, or those who appreciate Dolomites ski, In other words: holiday. The environment, despite the high tourism keeps its original beauty and unparalleled flora and fauna. Specifically, beyond deers and chamois, there is the presence of bears that crossed from Slovenia. Birds variety ranges from sparrows to high altitude birds of prey.
Vegetation changes with elevation and exposure. Woods are mainly populated by conifers - white and red pines, larch and beech trees. At lower elevations it is not uncommon to find birch, horn-beam and cassia trees. Mushrooms find a good habitat in the undergrowth. Several species thrive in the area making the Dolomites cuisine particularly full of variety of special recipes where mushroom is king.
One last thought must be expressed on the climate, typically alpine, with short cool summers, rainy springs after snow melts, and dry falls with long snowy winters. Like in the rest of the Alps, Dolomites create a barrier to fronts that originate from the South; Dolomites Mountains weather is unstable, due to other fronts sweeping Italy from the West. In Winter temperatures can drop below zero (Celsius) and stay there for several days, with variations due to the exposure. It is not uncommon to see minus 15 degrees on certain mornings, while on some peaks it reaches below 20 at night. For those reasons the perennial snow line starts at 2300 meters above sea level on the north face and at 2800 on the south face.
Bottom line, no description or image can render the enchantment of the place, or can convey feelings, share the scent smelled during a hike in the woods. On the same note, there are hundreds of special moments that can be savored in the area, like the conviviality enjoyed in mountain huts, the distinctiveness of the malghe. These alpine summer houses dot the pastures, each with the singularity of their artisanal cheese and fresh made butter. We can’t overlook the melody of their roaring streams, the light of their uncommon landscapes, the silence at high altitude. It is indeed in the peace and quiet of the area that one can find the peculiar beauty of the Dolomites Mountains.