Dolomite Alps (Italian. Dolomiti) is a mountain range within the Southern Limestone Alps system, located in the north-east of Italy in the provinces of Bolzano-Bozen – South Tyrol, Trento and Belluno. It extends from the Adige valley in the west to the Piave river valley in the east, the northern and southern borders are framed by the Pusteria and Brent rivers. The Dolomites are special in that the deposits of colored stone, forming peaks and steep slopes, under the rays of the sun acquire creamy-pink shades.
The massif is obliged by its origin to coral reefs, which were formed at the bottom of an ancient shallow sea. Approximately 65 million years ago, they rose from the bottom to the surface along with the mountain system of the Alps.
Initially, the mountains were called the Monte Pallidi (Pale Mountains). Today in the region of the Dolomites there is a beautiful legend telling why the mountains have such a distinctive color: in order to entertain the moon princess, saddened by homesickness, who married an Alpine prince, the dwarfs covered the mountains with a light veil woven from moon rays.
Its name – the Dolomites – an array received due to their characteristic breed, which, in turn, was named after the famous French geologist Deod de Dolomieux. In the 1780s, he was the first to discover in the rock a unique kind of mineral, called "dolomite".
The total area of the massif, dotted with 18 peaks, whose height exceeds 3 thousand meters, is 15.9 thousand km². As a result of the erosion, the landscape of the region was covered with bare cliffs, sharp vertical cliffs, long and narrow valleys. Also this area is characterized by karst and glacial landforms. Due to the accumulation of ice and snow in the vast territory occupied by the massif, avalanches, floods and landslides often occur here.
The heart of the Dolomites is made up of Mount Catinaccio, the plateau of Alpe di Siusi and Mount Marmolada (3342 m), topped with the largest glacier of this region, whose area reaches 3 km². Here, in the central part of the massif, there are snowfields and more than 40 glaciers.
Deciduous and pine forests grow on the lower parts of the slopes, but most of them are covered with mountain meadows. In spring, more than 50 orchid species bloom here. The world of the fauna is represented by mountain goats, marmots, chamois, and occasionally you can meet the European brown bear. Eagles, partridges, and crows hover over the Dolomites. Forests are home to woodpeckers, owls and wood grouses. Local meadows are full of a huge number of butterflies, and mountain rivers gleam with trout.
Since 2009, the Dolomites, which include several natural parks and the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Dolomites are a popular tourist destination, especially among fans of active winter recreation. On the slopes of the mountains there are many resort villages: Rocca-Pietore, Ortisei, Alleghe, Auronzo-Cadore, Cortina-D’Ampezzo and Falcade, which are connected by a narrow-gauge railway.
You can get to the Dolomites by plane or by rail. In the ski season, which lasts from December to April, in addition to regular flights, many charter flights run to the nearest cities in the massif: Bolzano, Innsbruck, Venice, Verona.
If you travel by rail, then the nearest stations follow the Verona-Brenner-Innsbruck-Munich line. From there, buses run regularly to all the resorts of the Dolomites.