Nestled into the Italian Alps, the Dolomite mountains have been a popular destination for European tourists for centuries. Known for their unique mineral composition, their jagged peaks differ vastly from the rest of the alps. After a sunny day these mountains seem to glow as they radiate the warmth of the day. In the winter, the Dolimites in Northern Italy are home to world class skiing and hiking.
The mountains in Northern Italy play host to many world class ski events. The FIS World Cup took place in Val Gardena in December with Canadian Eric Guay taking home the gold medal. Many of these resorts and ski towns can be found within an hour’s drive of each other. The most challenging ski adventure in Italy is known as the SuperSki and takes skiers from the Val di Fassa to Cortina. Skilled skiers can complete this challenge in a day covering an area spanning approximately 50 kilometers and traversing various mountain ranges.
Hikers have numerous choices when staying in the Dolomites. Setting a base in a town such as Bolzano or Merano is a good idea because of their close proximity and easy access to multiple ski resorts and gondolas. From Bolzano/Bozen, a city located in a mountain valley, hikers can take a gondola from downtown up to an altitude of 1200 meters to the town of Soprabolzano/Overbozen (Names of the towns in this area are all listed in Italian and German because although its located in Italy, the region of Sud Tirol speaks predominantly German). From here hikers can begin their journey through the mountain trains or take the local train to Collabo/Klobenstein where there is a wide variety of choices for trails. A popular choice takes hikers to see the Earth Pyramids. These are special rock formations that have been formed due to erosion.
Don’t be surprised to see lots of German tourists in this area because its only a short drive for them. Not only do they get to experience Italy, but they are able to speak their own language in a foreign country.
Between the wide variety of ski locations and the endless mountain trails, the Dolomite mountains offer something new for the North American traveler that the European tourist has been enjoying for centuries.