The Dolomites are also known as the Pale Mountains they got their name from the rock dolomite, named after french mineralogist Déodat de Dolomieu who was the first to study it in the 18th century. The chemical composition of the rocks gives rise to the phenomenon known as enrosadira or alpenglow, it can be seen at dawn or sunset when the mountains look orange-reddish (or pink-purple).
Dolomites are divided into Western Dolomites and Eastern Dolomites by the Cordevole creek (a tributary of the Piave river) which flows through the province of Belluno. Dolomites are also divided into many other ranges, the most famous are Marmolada (the highest peak, 3,343m), Antelao (the second highest 3,263m. and close to Cortina d'Ampezzo. It is nicknamed “King of the Dolomites”), Sella, Tofane, Sorapiss, Cristallo group and Sexten Dolomites (Dolomiti di Sesto in Italian).
Dolomites are natural habitat for a wide range of mammals and birds such as deers, martens, groundhogs, boars, wolves, eagles, hawks and many other species.
The best option is travelling by car, just pay attention when driving because the roads can be narrow and traffic in high season can be mental, especially if you’re trying to reach Cortina from Belluno.
There are hundreds of hiking trails throughout the Dolomites mountains. Some are very easy and ideal for families with kids while some others are only recommended to experts. Many trails start from towns and villages and lead to lakes, pastures or to a rifugio (mountain hut, some look like cabins, some other are more like hotel-restaurant) where you can normally sit down, rest, enjoy the local cuisine and the sun before going home. Some of the rifugi can also host people and they might have rooms, but you’re more likely going to spend the night in your sleeping bag. Please note that the most isolated ones do not have hot showers, the owners will probably tell you to reach the closest creek and bathe there (pay attention: the water is icy cold).
Dolomiti Superski refers to the biggest ski carousel of the world, 1220 kms divided into 12 areas. You can buy skipass online or at any ski area. You can also buy a seasonal Dolomiti Superski skipass valid for all the ski areas (price range 800+ Euros).
The 12 ski areas are:
The Dolomites feature a traditional cuisine based on simple dishes of poor origins. You will find corn, potatoes, beans, mushrooms, barley and other in many of the traditional recipes. Dairy products such as butter, cheese and milk are still made in huts (malghe in Italian) from the milk of the cows and sometimes you can even taste and buy them from the producers on the spot.
Meat, especially deer and roe deer, is very common. Meat products are speck and many local sausages and salami. Don't forget honey, jams and sauces which very often go together with cheese and cold cuts.
One very well-known dish is pastin (salted and spiced minced meat). Try the casunziei, a kind of ravioli stuffed with spinach or pumpkin, and the canederli which are basically balls of bread and speck usually with broth.
Grappa is a famous Italian alcoholic beverage, very strong (35 to 60% alcohol by volume). In the Dolomites you will find several flavored ones, often homemade with cumin, blueberry, raspberry, honey, hazelnut and much more. You normally drink it when it's very cold but it's also usual to have one after dinner. Be careful though, do not drink if you're hiking or skiing.
There are many hotels and apartments.