Dolomites ~ Dolomiti ~ Dolomiten
The Dolomites are an alpine mountain range of North-Eastern Italy, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. It is said that part of the Dolomites are the last genuine wilderness left in Western Europe. The North-Western part of the range lies in the autonomous province of Bolzano-South Tirol, itself part of the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige-Südtirol. The Dolomites’s people have a long history and diversity of cultures and languages: besides the Italian and Germanic (Austrian) influences and traditions, the historic linguistic minority Ladin population, in a majority in some small communes of Val Badia, maintains a tradition and culture with roots in pre-Roman and Roman times.
The province of South-Tirol (capital Bolzano, or Bozen) exhibits a linguistic and cultural diversity unique in the European Union. After WWII and a period of unrest and sometime violent protest, the province won its autonomy, enshrined in the Italian constitution, through an exemplary case of culturally sensitive negotiated compromise on the part of the Italian and Austrian governments.
The Dolomites, whose high peaks tend to be around 3,000m, host some of the best, and vertiginous, rock climbing routes of the Alps. In winter there is a variety of skiing options, from beautiful off-the-track skiing to world-class descente and slalom pistes. In Val Badia (Gadertal) Corvara hosts the annual Mens’ Slalom World Cup.
My Summer pics of Südtirol!
Have you ever truly felt déjà vu, the sensation that you’ve already had the experience you’re currently having?
I asked my pupils to wait for me in the little crag as I wanted to explore the path down the cliff. After all I was leading this junior group of the Alpine Club, and it was my responsibility to ensure they were safe. The evening was bright, lit by the full moon, the air was clear and cool. The path led down to a narrow terrace after a near vertical descent of about fifteen meters. I was strapped and knew the ground quite well, so I climbed down.
As I turned round to check how far I was, I saw her: her camera lens was aimed at me, as she was lying on the flat rock, her blond hair held tight by a small beret. And there on that cliff I knew I had been at this spot before, long ago… The girl got up, smiled and, pushing a few blond locks under her beret, said in a lovely Austrian accent: “I took a good shot of you coming down, you can take a copy if you want!” But I was away, there, in the djebel, under another full moon, held in the frame of a sniper’s rifle, back in time. I smiled and said I would be pleased to have the pic: did she want me to take one of her?