THE Dolomite mountains in Italy are in a class of their own – a fact recognised In August, 2009, when they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whether they are covered in snow or not,, they are an all-year-round magnet for the tourist and sportsman and there really is something there for everybody.
The Dolomites are like no other peaks in Europe. They rise in steep spires, chiseled by nature to form the most striking of mountains. Although part of Italy, they have a strong Tyrolean feel to them.
In the winter the region’s famous Val Gardena is a haven for skiers but in the spring in turns to an Alpine picture book and you half expect to see the von Trapp family come singing over the hills.
The village of Selva, one of the three main villages in the Val Gardena, is the home of the unique Ladinos who are proud to tell you they speak a language shaped out ancient Latin features but decidedly all their own.
One of the surprises the Dolomites has in store for you is the via ferrata. A cable car whisks you to a height of around 2,400m and a guide ropes you in to a harness to take you rock climbing.
You are actually following in the footsteps of Sylvester Stallone in the area where filming was carried out for Cliffhanger.
Hanging from a cliff face can be easier than it looks with the help of an experienced guide and a small rope which clips on and off a steel cable as you make your way up a rock face to the top of a limestone tower.
A via ferrata – iron road – is a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The first via ferratas were built in the Dolomites during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry, and the Dolomites probably still has the greatest number.
If you get addicted to this activity, there are long distance trails which take at least a week.
The Dolomites’ rugged peaks, surrounded by picture postcard scenery, create a paradise for climbers, walkers and cyclists and every June the area hosts the Sellaronda Bike Day – the one Sunday of the year when all passes around the Sella massif are closed to cars. Thousands of keen cyclists ascend the various routes.
The local cuisine is renowned for its subtle fusion of Italian and Austrian cooking.
The closest airports to Selva are: Innsbruck with a transfer time to the resort of one hour and 30minutes; Verona, three hours; and Milan, also three hours away.
Useful websites are a href=”http://www.suedtirol.info” rel=”nofollow”www.suedtirol.info/a and Dolomiti Adventures at a href=”http://www.dolomiti-adventures.com/” rel=”nofollow”www.dolomiti-adventures.com//a