The Dolomites form a specific mountain scenery which is called Dolomite Landscape, marked by recognizable and unique characters: the extremely articulated topography which comprises isolated and juxtaposed mountain groups set on a particularly restricted area; the large variety of vertical rock formations, such as spires, needles, towers, and horizontal shapes, like ledges, plateaus and crags; the astonishing contrast between the gentle lines of the valley bottoms and the vertical rise of the imposing peaks; the possibility of classifying these formations into volumetric figures like prisms, cones and parallelepiped which led to an interpretation of this massifs as artificial structures.
The presence of several peaks exceeding 3,000 m, the large number of small glaciers, the contrast between the vertical rise of the rock walls and the 1,500 m deep canyons make the Dolomites an important attraction even from a morphological viewpoint. Above all, what makes the Dolomite Landscape fascinating and spectacular is certainly the exceptional variety of colors. During the day, due to the natural phenomena called Enrosadira, which literally means ‘becoming pink’, the Dolomite rocks react in a very unique way to the changes in daylight, painting themselves in different colors: they range from orange to red to purple at dawn and sunset, light yellow at midday and at twilight and especially in the moonlight they become a soft white. Unique in the world is the strong contrast between the dark volcanic rocks and the pale Dolomite rocks that gave rise to the Italian term ‘Monti Pallidi’ – the ‘Pale Mountains’.
The Dolomite Landscape includes some features which characterize all the nine systems making up the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site: extensive undulating bedrocks; imposing mantles of detritus; horizontal structural elements creating vast terraces; great vertical white rock masses rising unexpectedly from the ground. Besides all these characteristics, there are other landscape values, such as the biodiversity of the natural habitats and richness of plant species. In particular, on the Dolomite Landscape you find two bands of vegetation: conifer forests versus subalpine shrublands, located on the lower areas, Alpine grass lands and various small plant associations growing on crags and scree, some of which are exclusive to the Dolomites.