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The Dolomites

The Dolomites are a part of the Alps situated in South Tyrol (Italy) and stretching from the Brenner Pass to the Monte Croce Pass, south of the Pusterthal. Their highest peak is Marmolada that measures 3344 meters. However, the whole Dolomites region is an extensive range of impressively jagged peaks.

This zone lies nearby the Austrian frontier and is strongly influenced by its culture. Popular with summer walkers and climbers, in the skiing season the Dolomites are full of sunlight and powdery snow, their slopes and trails are appropriate for all abilities. The ‘Ski Dolomiti’ area is connected by over 450 lifts which serve 1220 km of slopes, including 12 ski areas. You can acquire a pass for the whole network. There are good road links and regular bus services. The regional visitor centre is Bolzano. 

The best among the Dolomites’ ski resorts are: Cortina d`Ampezzo, Val Gardena, Val Rendena-Madonna di Campiglio, Val di Fassa and San Martino di Castrozza. 

Cortina d`Ampezzo is one of the most fashionable and popular ski areas in Italy. It was the host of the Olympics in 1956. This place is still chic and expensive but the offered winter sport facilities are world-class. The range of activities is very large as well as the range of levels. Val Gardena is situated in the North-East of Bolzano. Above the valley is Alpe di Siusi, a bright upland with wonderful ski schools. Ortisei (or St. Urlich) is the biggest town in the valley (which is embellished with castles) and similarly to Santa Cristina and Selva di Val Gardena is a good, well-equipped resort with lifts up to the plateau. From Santa Cristina you can also ascend to the jagged Odle range of mountains and to the summit of Sassolungo. You must also know that the area is specialized in woodcarving. So if you are fed up with snow and skiing, you can always go to buy some souvenirs or to visit workshops and exhibitions. 

Madonna di Campiglio is the next well-developed ski resort providing accommodation of all standards. It is the most important ski area in the Brenta Dolomites, north of Lake Garda. If you are enthusiast of winter sports, you can rejoice in 31 ski lifts, a ski-jump, skating rink, speed-skating and an indoor pool. The surrounding summits have magnificent views. This area is also famous for summer walking and climbing. 

Val di Fassa is a wonderful valley in the Dolomites, where the Ladin language is maintained (Cultural Institute at Vigo di Fassa). There are traditional wooden cabins, charming churches and the chairlifts leading up Rosengarten from Pozza di Fassa. The largest town is Moeno, a ski area with the extra attraction of appealing, frescoed churches. Another good place is Canazei situated at the northern end of the valley. And one more interesting fact (especially for football fans): this is where Lazio have spent their last couple of summer retreats. And the last but not least: San Martino di Castrozza. This resort lies at the foot of the Pale di San Martino (Altars of St. Martin), a high group of peaks arriving at 10.446 ft. This ski area is very well-equipped. Among winter sports that you can practice in the Dolomites are: telemark, carving, snowboard, ski-jump, ciaspole, ski-mountaineering,, skiing and cross country. 

There are also plenty of historic places to visit in the Dolomites. Some of them are: the castles of Trentino (more than 280 dwellings, castles and ancient fortresses) and of Alto Adige (more than 400 fortified buildings, castles, bastions and strongholds of the different periods) and Pieve di Cadore (the birthplace of Titian). The local culture of the Dolomites is more German rather than Italian - Swiss-style chalets, Mercedes taxis, lederhosen, sauerkraut…It is probably caused by the fact that the Dolomites used to be the part of Austria for centuries (the border was moved north to its present position after the World War I). At first, the Italian government tried to eliminate all remnants of the German culture but today these two cultures and languages exist side by side in a cordial atmosphere.

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