Part of the Alps but with its own unique geology and landscape, the Dolomite mountains are best known for their spectacular spiky outlines, the startling colours of their rocks at sunset and the bucolic beauty of their flower filled meadows. This original and varied landscape in north eastern Italy has recently been given UNESCO World Natural Heritage status.
We are based in the Eastern Dolomites, north east of Venice, centred around the towns of Pieve di Cadore, Auronzo di Cadore and Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Cadore, Comelico, Ampezzo and Pusteria Valleys at the heart of this uniquely varied meeting place of landscapes, geological forms and cultures.
The area is named after the prevailing type of rock, Dolomite, a calcium-magnesium carbonate which is less water soluble than other sedimentary rocks and thus tends to erode into the dramatic spires and pinnacles which have made the Dolomites so famous.
Culturally speaking the Eastern Dolomites are a fascinating border region between the Germanic linguistic area to the north and the Italian speaking southern section with three different linguistic groups cohabiting – the German-speaking South Tyroleans, the Italian speaking residents of the Veneto and the Ladins, a linguistic minority group speaking a language based on the Latin spoken by the peoples of the area during and shortly after the Roman occupation of the Dolomites.
Until the early twentieth century the region’s history was dominated by the Habsburg and Venetian empires which took turns to control of the region, giving it the military importance typical of a border area (many beautiful Tyrolean castles and a great many nineteenth century forts have survived) and helping to shape the cultural identities of the various linguistic groups. The rivalry between the Habsburg Austrians and the new Italian state had tragic but fascinating consequences in the early twentieth century when the area found itself on the front line in World War One.
Breath-taking flower-filled meadows and unusual varieties clinging to rock faces and scree slopes: a great range of habitats means an astonishing variety of flowers including numerous orchids, alpine snowbells, alpine pennycress, yellow Pyrenean poppies, alpine toadflax and dwarf alpenrose, various deep blue gentians, rock metzereon, rock jasmine and even possibly the iconic edelweiss.
Animals you might catch a glimpse of include marmots, roe deer, chamois, ibex and a great many mountain choughs.
In the heart of the Eastern Dolomites in a fascinating border area which is reflected in the culture and appearance of the towns and villages and the languages – Italian, Ladin and German – spoken in them, we are based in and around the following towns. Your choice of town and hotel will depend on what you are looking for in a holiday and we will be more than happy to advise you.
Stylish and upmarket, Cortina’s elite reputation and uniquely panoramic position can make it more expensive than the other towns in the area but it has a huge range of hotels including everything from small family run establishments to top-end hotels. A great range of restaurants to suit all tastes and many shops, bars and cafés and a few nightclubs make Cortina a fun place to stay in season and its summer cable cars and chair lifts make getting up to high altitudes for its huge range of panoramic walks an easy proposition from mid-June to mid-September.
Its peaceful, lakeside position, chairlift and fun bob makes Auronzo a perfect place for a family walking holiday. Its chairlift and proximity to the panoramic lakeside hamlet of Misurina and the world-famous Tre Cime mountains makes it a popular spot for walking tourism as does its considerable range of affordable, middle range hotels and restaurants and its attractive lake.
Titian’s birthplace, Pieve is a historic town with a pretty old centre and a couple of interesting museums. Relatively untouristy, it is rarely crowded and a great place for a quiet walking holiday with a few good hotels, restaurants and bars frequented mainly by local people and Italian tourists.
An attractive German speaking Tyrolean town beautifully positioned in the open, green Pusteria valley, San Candido is a busy walking destination in the summer with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, bars and shops of every sort, as well as a chair lift in town and another in a nearby village which makes high altitude walking more accessible as well as a fun bob for children.
Let us know what you like in a town and hotel and how much you’d like to spend and we’ll help you make the perfect choice.