What to see
The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. Their intrinsic beauty is derived from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys such as Val Gardena. A great diversity of colours is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-coloured rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below.
The Dolomites include several peaks with distinctive shapes and some of the highest mountains in the range. Among the most identifiable are: The Cinque Torri (2366 m) which rise from a single base between Passo Falzarego and Cortina D'Ampezzo; Sasso Lungo (3179 m), easily recognised by its distinctive scar; Marmolada (3343 m), the highest peak in the Dolomites chain with a cable car that ascends to 3000 m above the glacier; Torri del Vaiolet (2243 m), which is part of the beautiful Catinaccio range, known for its beautiful colours at sunset and The Cime di Lavaredo (2999 m), which dominate the valleys north of the Lago di Misurina.
Forests and meadows support a breathtaking richness of wildlife in the region.
The landscape is coloured by coniferous forests, crocuses, edelweiss, rhododendron, lilies and alpine bluebells. The Dolomites are still a refuge for many wild animals, including royal eagles, woodcock, chamois and roe deer.
What to do
The Dolomites are a favourite winter destination for skiers who flock there for a network of 1200 km of ski slopes and more than 400 lift facilities. Thanks to an average of 300 days of sunshine and mountains reacing an altitude over 3000 m, it is possible to enjoy the slopes year-round. The Dolomites are also one of the best hiking regions in the world. As no camping is allowed, there are refuge buildings at an impressively high altitude. Hiking is for all levels of ability: from wheelchair accessible paths to thrilling vie ferrate (routes aided by iron cables, ladders, etc fixed to the stone).
Where to go
Cortina D'Ampezzo is the capital of the Dolomites and Italy's top ski resort. It owes part of its attraction to the magnificent scenery of the Dolomites, with its crags, pinnacles and crystalline lakes. Cortina benefits from better than average sport facilities thanks to hosting the 1956 Winter Olympic Games. In addition to downhill and cross-country skiing, there is also a ski jump, a bobsleigh run, as Olympic ice stadium, several swimming pools, tennis courts and riding facilities.
Canazei is located at the base of some of the highest and most awe-inspiring groups of peaks, such as Marmolada and Sasso Lungo, and is a good base for exploring the Dolomites. In summer, chair-lifts climb to viewpoints where the beauty of the encircling mountains can be appreciated to the full.
What to eat
The cuisine of the Dolomites combines Austrian influences from Alto Adige with recipes from the mountainous region of Trentino. One of the traditional dishes is Strangolapreti, dumplings made with bread, spinach or potatoes, coated with butter and cheese.