Holidays in South Tyrol and the Dolomites

Travelling through the mountain world of northern Italy

The rugged and inhospitable climate of the mountains in and around the Dolomites not only made life for the people comparatively difficult, but also meant that the Dolomite region developed somewhat differently than the neighbouring regions. But what was a historical disadvantage back then is today the basis for the success of the Dolomites region. Craggy peaks, ancient traditions and a magnificent and originally acting natural world annually attract thousands of visitors on holiday to South Tyrol and the Dolomites. From sporting activities to relaxing hours in nature, everything is possible here.

Holidays in South Tyrol Rural landscape

History of the Dolomites region

The contours of the history of the Dolomites region are predominantly defined rurally. As early as 5000 BC the first settlements could be detected here. The Romans annexed the region by 15 BC and integrated it into the province Raetia. Apart from agriculture, people lived mainly off of the travelling merchants who struggled on the ancient trade routes across the Alps. Cut off from the southern Italian regions, the Romance Ladin language developed during the Lombard rule in the mountain valleys, which also survived the Germanisation efforts of the Franks. Around the year 1000 AD Brixen and Trento were raised to prince-bishoprics, from 1282 the County of Tyrol owned territory and claimed large parts of today’s Dolomites.

Holidays in South Tyrol Caterina Lanz

The long struggle for freedom of the Tyroleans and Ladins

In 1363 Tyrol and the Dolomites region fell to the Habsburg Empire, which ruled the region with a brief interruption until 1918. During this time, both the Ladin and the Italian languages were officially recognised next to the German language. In 1809-10 the Tyroleans fought, under the leadership of their national hero Andreas Hofer, the Tyrolean War of Liberation against the French. After the terrible battles during the First World War in the Dolomites region, the entire region finally fell to Italy, which divided the region into the current three provinces of South Tyrol (Alto Adige), Trentino and Belluno.

Despite the constant Italianisation efforts of the Roman government, both the German as well as the Ladin language have managed to survive. The former has been the official language in the autonomous province of Alto Adige since 1972. The Ladin, by contrast, are still fighting to get official recognition as a minority – the planned connection of the Ladin valleys to South Tyrol could bring at least theoretical autonomy.

Holidays in South Tyrol Mountain cyclists

Dolomites sports region

Anyone who spends their holidays in South Tyrol and the Dolomites enjoys not only the panorama and nature of a unique natural world, but can also draw on abundant resources in terms of sports. Fishing, golfing, tennis and horseback riding – the strong-willed can also bathe in the cold mountain lakes. After all, what would the Dolomites be without the classic mountain sports? Hiking, mountain climbing and climbing on seemingly endless trails and paths – a real El Dorado for all mountain enthusiasts. But mountain bikers and cyclists as well will find ideal conditions and can take a comfortable bike tour or climb up a steep mountain pass. Besides the excellent hiking and mountain trails, the Dolomites have increasingly developed into a fantastic ski region in recent years. Over 500 lifts and more than 1,200 kilometres of perfectly maintained slopes are spread over the entire region. One could avoid riding any slope twice and still see only a fraction of the region.

There are hotels and accommodations in abundance. From remote villages to high-quality tourist destinations you can find everything here. The quality is good but the prices are usually relatively high – especially in the main seasons. Nevertheless, the hotels generally always fully booked. So anyone who is planning a holiday in South Tyrol and the Dolomites is advised book in advance to get a room.

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Holidays in South Tyrol
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