The legendary Italian Dolomites are nothing short of magnificent and majestic. I had the utmost pleasure in exploring this region of Northeastern part of Italy which houses some of the most beautiful, surreal and picturesque mountain ranges in Europe. They form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley (Pieve di Cadore) in the east. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.
The Dolomites is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of highly distinctive mountain landscapes that are of exceptional natural beauty, their dramatic vertical and pale coloured peaks in a variety of distinctive sculptural forms is extraordinary in a global context, they possess internationally important combination of earth science values, the quantity and concentration of highly varied limestone formations is extraordinary in a global context, whilst the superbly exposed geology provides an insight into the recovery of marine life in the Triassic period, after the greatest extinction event recorded in the history of life on Earth. The sublime, monumental and colourful landscapes of the Dolomites have also long attracted hosts of travellers and a history of scientific and artistic interpretations of its values.
Dolomites overlooking the village of Santa Magdalena
The Dolomites are widely regarded as being among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. The mountains rise as peaks with intervening ravines, in some places standing isolated but in others forming sweeping panoramas. The distinctive scenery of the Dolomites has become the archetype of a “dolomitic landscape”. The Dolomites, also known as the "Pale Mountains", take their name from the carbonate rock dolomite.
I took a train from the city of Verona to Bolzano located in the northeastern part of Italy in the Italian alps. Bolzano serves as the gateway to the Italian alps or the South Tyrol region. From here there are frequent buses and trains to different regions of South Tyrol also known by its Italian name as Alto Adige. One of my first stops was the town of Brixen from where I took a bus ride to the idyllic and surreal village of Santa Magdalena. As soon as you enter the village you will be in awe with the magnificent scenery and the majestic Dolomites overlooking this pretty little village. This view hits you right in the face. I walked around and explored the village until I found the perfect spot to watch the sunset as the light reflects over the peaks making it one of the most spectacular views.
Sunset over the Dolomites in Santa Magadalena
Santa Magdalena falls under the municipality of Villnöß. The village of Santa Maddalena/St. Magdalena is located at the rear end of the Funes valley (Val di Funes). This is the place where the most popular photographic subjects are to be found. Santa Maddalena is also a perfect starting point for hikes inside the Nature Park Puez-Odle.
I spent a couple of days around the region of Villnöß and finally moved on to another region of the Italian alps namely Dobbiaco (Toblach) which is situated at the entrance to the romantically wild Val di Landro.
The land was painted white with the winter's might. There were only a handful of people there which made it even more amazing for me to explore the region at my own pace and enjoy the complete serenity. The snow made it even more beautiful and vibrant.
For its peculiar location, Dobbiaco/Toblach is considered one of the key gateways to the Dolomites. It is perfect for both summer and winter activities. During the summer months this region becomes a lavish meadow perfect for hiking as the land is covered with green grass and beautiful flowers whereas during winter this region is painted white with snow making it perfect for skiing.
Most of my accommodations include couchsurfing and staying with locals and other homestays which work out very cheap as opposed to staying in hotels and resorts. So spending a couple of wonderful days exploring this region and interacting with the locals it was time for me to move on the last leg of my trip to the Italian alps. I reached the skiing resorts of St. Christina and Wolkenstein located in the region of Val Gardena. I'm not into skiing so I ended up moving away from the hustle and bustle of the town and ventured into exploring the outskirts which was nearly empty making it so much better. of the People in the Italian alps speak Italian and also German (Austrian) due to its close proximity to Austria. The South Tyrol continues into Austria as North Tyrol. All these areas are well connected by trains and buses throughout the year making it convenient for traveling.
The Italian alps and the Dolomites are a photographer's paradise and has a unique scenery unlike its more popular neighbors such as the Swiss and Austrian alps. The Swiss and Austrian alps are absolutely beautiful and magnificent but somehow for me they do not match the intensity of the Italian alps and moreover since these regions aren't as popular as the other two making it a traveler's ultimate destination for untouched and unparalleled beauty, the tranquility of this region is beyond comprehension and the views most certainly send a scintillating feeling down the spine. A must visit for anyone wanting to explore a different and definitely one of the most beautiful parts of Italy.