Summer Holiday in Dolomites, the Italian Alps
The site of the Dolomites comprises a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres. 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.
In the summer, they can be travelled on foot, by mountain bike, on horseback, along hundreds of trails winding through the forests or climbing up the rocks, crossing streams, passing by lakes and crystal-clear water falls.
Dolomites – a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site
Rising from the depths of the primordial ocean 250 million years ago, the Dolomites were shaped by the relentless effects of water, wind and ice, which sculpted this natural masterpiece.
Named for the geologist who first studied them, Déodat de Dolomieu, and protected by numerous parks, the Dolomites rise to an altitude of more than 3,000 m. The best known peaks, such as Marmolada (3,342 m), Tofana di Rozes (3,225 m), Sassolungo (3,181 m), Three Peaks of Lavaredo (2,999 m), Mount Pelmo (3,169 m) and the Pale di San Martino (3,192 m) are the centerpieces of one of the most charming mountain landscapes on the planet.
And this is expressed in the concluding report of the IUCN’s international commission of experts, which judged the Dolomites, with their particular geological, botanical and scenic qualities, to be unique in the world.
The Dolomites – for many, the most beautiful mountains in the world
Toward the end of the 19th century, the Dolomites saw numerous pioneering activities; the mountains were an excellent area for experimentation of various kinds. Bold British noblemen were the first to conquer the sharp peaks, the jagged summits and the sheer cliffs of the Dolomites. They were followed by Hapsburg climbers who wrote the most important chapters in the history of Dolomite mountain climbing.
Great climbers like the Viennese Paul Grohmann (1838–1908), the first to climb to the top of Tofana de Rozes and Mount Cristallo near Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Sassolungo in Val Gardena and the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in the Sesto Dolomites, loved these mountains and wrote about them in numerous publications. The Austrian Emil Zsigmondy (1861–1885) was also a pioneer in the history of Dolomite mountain climbing. He described them as a “delicious gem in the Alps”. The Lake Garda mountain climber, actor, and movie director Luis Trenker (1892-1990), who was born in Ortisei at the foot of the inimitable Sassolungo, documented his passion for these mountains in numerous books and films, which became known worldwide. Thanks to Trenker, the rocky shapes of the Dolomites became known for the first time on an international level. Finally there is the “king of the eight-thousanders,” Reinhold Messner. Since childhood he has loved the Dolomites. From the window of his house in Val di Funes he could admire the Odle Mountains and may have understood from the start that the mountains would always be with him. Messner has conquered all the highest mountains on the planet, but there has always been a soft spot in his heart for the Dolomites: “They are not the highest, but they are certainly the most beautiful mountains in the world”.
Majestic cliffs, tall sharp peaks, impossible overhangs and jagged summits. The variety of forms and colours and of the valleys that cross the Dolomites, however, have not only charmed the great mountain climbers of history, but great artists as well. Le Corbusier (Switzerland-France 1887–1965), perhaps the greatest contemporary architect, saw in the Dolomites “the most beautiful natural architecture in the world”.
The Dolomite Mountains offer some of the best weather in all of the Alps – perfect for year-round active adventures. As a mountain range, the Dolomites receive less precipitation on an annual basis than do the majority of the Alps. The southern Dolomites (the Brenta Group and Lake Garda area) tend to be struck with cold spells created by storms that have pushed up from the south, and more fog created when the cold air mixes with the warmer air from nearby Venice. The Northern Dolomites (Sudtirol / Alto Adige) have the least amount of precipitation, as the southern Dolomite groups break up the big storms from the south, leaving the north with more desirable conditions.
The summer months (mid-July through September) have warm temperatures and plenty of sun – perfect for hiking, climbing, via ferrata, and cycling trips! While the average maximum temperature may reach some 80 °F / 25°C on the valley floors, the gentle wind of the Dolomites guarantees refreshing moments in the shade of rich green woods.
In fall the temperature drops, but weather conditions remain stable and pleasant, making the Dolomites a perfect place to plan a “late summer” adventure!