Besides being marked by an imposing and gentle natural landscape, the area of the Dolomites is well known also for its amazing cultural and historical heritage. Inhabited since thousands of years, the zones of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site have inspired innumerable tales, supplied resources for age-old craftsmanship traditions and have been the location of several historical events, always preserving their own identity.
Just by observing the remarkable Ladin community, scattered around the five valleys which surround the Sella group, you can understand how the cultural and linguistic identity is well-established in those areas. The Ladin dialect, whose origin can be dated back to the time when Romans inhabited the Alpine region, is one of the four recognized languages spoken on the Dolomites and it is still used by 30,000 people situated around the valleys Val Gardena, Val Badia, Val di Fassa and in Livinallongo and Ampezzo. Besides Ladin, people here also speak Friulano (Romance language as well) which is spoken on the Dolomites of Friuli (between Belluno, Udine and Pordenone), German and obviously also Italian.
Another interesting aspect of the cultural inheritance of the Dolomites is embodied by the various legends and myths, a series of fantasy tales linked to extraordinary places and environmental events, such as the so-called Enrosadira: the fable of King Laurino and its rose garden, in fact, explains with a magical take the natural phenomenon which makes the Dolomites become pink at dawn and at sunset.
The legend of the red lake clarifies that the Tòvel lake used to become red due to the legendary battle between the king of Tuenno and the army of the queen of Ràgoli, whereas the love story between a prince and the moon princess displays the origin of the designation “Pale Mountains”.
Wandering through these valleys you can meet the witches of the Sciliar, princess Dolasilla, giant Ortles and many other characters.
One of the most appreciated cultural events on the Dolomites is surely represented by Carnival which celebrates the end of winter with allegoric characters, floats, dances, gorgeous wood masks carved by local craftsmen and ancient costumes derived from folk tradition. Every valley of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrates this event in its own way: for example, in Alba, Penia and Campitello di Fassa you can take part in the Ladin Carnival and meet some distinctive figures, like the ‘Marascon’ or the ‘Lache’.
Part of the remarkable tradition of the Dolomites is also its cuisine since ever marked by simple and authentic dishes and products. Canederli, Speck, the Lucanica from Trentino, the Ciuìga from San Lorenzo in Banale, the Casunzièi from the Cadore valley and the Puzzone di Moena are just some of the well-known culinary specialties you should definitely taste. Excellent wines are the result of a century-old careful production and plantation which led to the achievement of the Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC). Cold cuts, cheeses, honey, mushrooms: the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site promotes a rich and healthy cuisine with a unique taste, still nowadays proudly offered by local chefs.