South Tyrol: On a tour of discovery through the Dolomites

"Mountains are the imperishable monuments of the earth.

South Tyrol: On a tour of discovery through the Dolomites

"Mountains are the imperishable monuments of the earth." Well, according to the Romantic writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), history and outdoor fans should get their money's worth in the Dolomites. After all, the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions are places of longing for skiers, summiteers and "buongustai". In the heart of the Sellaronda lies a community that leaves nothing to be desired in this respect: Welcome to Canazei!

Nestled between the massifs of the Dolomites, the Marmolada, the Sella group and the Gran Vernèl, the 2,000-strong village with the Ladin name "Cianacei" has made itself comfortable. Between small handicraft shops, bell towers tower into the winter sky, which attracts many hours of sunshine even in the dark season. From here skiers and snowboarders can easily reach the many areas of the Dolomiti Superski network, such as the Belvedere-Col Rodella, the Buffaure-Ciampac and the Marmolada.

The latter is considered the glacier queen of the Dolomites and looks down on its snow-loving visitors from a height of 3,343 meters. The Buffaure-Ciampac ski area offers variety for young and old with its blue (40 percent, easy), red (46 percent, medium) and black slopes (14 percent, difficult). The Sellaronda is no less steep, but rounder. The four passes tour stretches around the Sella massif. We roam the Ladin valleys of Gröden, Alta Badia, Arabba and of course the Fassa Valley with our starting point in Canazei. You should be in good physical condition for the total of 40 kilometers (27 of which are slopes).

Ski racing fans are sure to pay attention to Gröden and Alta Badia. Every year they are the venues for the men's World Cup. One week before Christmas, the famous "Saslong Classic" descent takes place in Val Gardena, where men race at top speed over the "Camel Humps" and the waves of the "Ciaslat". A few days later, the ski world looks a few kilometers further to Alta Badia. The local Gran Risa is considered to be one of the most beautiful and challenging slopes in the World Cup.

In addition to sporting highlights, the South Tyrolean romance is not neglected and literally makes the Dolomites shine: near the Val di Fassa/Carezza ski area is the Rosengarten, home of the legendary king Laurin. Out of spurned love he cursed his roses, they should not be seen in broad daylight or in the dark of night. So the entire garden became rock and stone. But Laurin had forgotten the twilight. On some evenings, when the rocks glow red in the evening sun (Enrosadira: Alpenglühen), the memory of the dwarf king awakens.

After excitement, sport and legends, it is high time for a culinary interlude with a Ladin touch. Of course we could enjoy the ravioli all'italiana, tortelli, cappelletti, agnolotti, culurgiones and Schlutzkrapfen. But it is much more regional: Two variants that are unmistakably for the Val di Fassa and the Ladin culture are the "Casunziei di sciopetis" and the "Cajoncie da fighes". Traditionally, Casunziei are filled with beetroot and common campion (Ladin: sciopetis). The Cajoncie da fighes, on the other hand, come from the Val di Fassa - a sweet appetizer in which the dumplings are filled with figs. Add to that a glass of Pinot Grigio and we say: Buon appetito - or rather, bun apetit!