The Catinaccio (or Rosengarten) range is one of the best-known sights in the Dolomites, its unmistakeable bare-rock pinnacles appearing on brochures, guides and myriad souvenirs. This immense wall of stone along the edge of the 3000m-high massif takes on a famously rosy glow at sunset, and the mountain plays lead role in the area’s best-known myths and legends. Trails across this mountain are popular with mainly Italian and German walkers and, although the zigzag paths to the peaks can be crowded in August, once you’re above the cable-car line, there’s plenty of wilderness to lose yourself in.
Access is simple enough from Vigo di Fassa, the main place to stay in the Val di Fassa, which splits off from the Val di Fiemme north of Predazzo at Moena. If you travel these roads and trails, you pass through one of the heartlands of Ladino culture.
At the head of the Val di Fassa, Canazei makes a good springboard for the high plateaux of the Gruppo di Sella, and the gentler trail of the Viel del Pan, which leads down to the tiny resort of Arabba. On the northern side of the Sella group, Corvara is a much larger resort with a sizeable Ladino population.Read More
CANAZEI, a buzzing summer and winter resort at the head of the Val di Fassa (wfassa.com) is a stepping stone to the stupendous high road passes between here and Cortina d’Ampezzo. You may also find yourself staying here before or after walking in the Gruppo di Sella or strolling along a much easier trail – the Viel del Pan opposite glacier-topped Marmolada.
The central town of the Ladin ethnic group, CORVARA is primarily a ski resort, and it also makes a good base for the excellent trails of the nearby Fanes Park, a bus ride away, where most of the Ladin legends are based. Some 4.5km north of Corvara is La Villa, a small village with a fairy-tale sixteenth-century castle.
The Ladins (Ladini in Italian, Ladinisch in German) are a community of around 30,000 people living in the Gardena, Badia, Fassa, Livinallongo and Ampezzo valleys around the Sella massif. They’re united by their ancient language – Ladin – which was once spoken over a wide area, from Austria down to the River Po (in what’s now Emilia-Romagna). The Dolomitic Ladin language, preserved by the relative remoteness of the territory, is linked to Swiss Romansch (there are 40,000 speakers in the Swiss Engadine) and Friulano (more than 700,000 speakers in the Friuli region of Italy).
The history of the Ladins is recorded in their epics, which recount tales of battles, treachery and reversals of fortune. Around 400 AD, the Ladins were constantly threatened with invasion by Germanic tribes from the north and others from the Po valley. Christianity later emerged as a major threat, but the Ladins absorbed and transformed the new religion, investing the new saints with the powers of more ancient female divinities.
The Museo Ladin de Fascia, between San Giovanni and Vigo di Fassa, is devoted to traditional Ladin working life and provides a fascinating introduction to Ladin culture, with intriguing exhibits on the language and history. It also has exhibits scattered throughout the territory, including a restored nineteenth-century cooperage (Botega da Pinter) at Via Dolomiti 3, in Moena; a restored watermill (Molin de Pezol) at Via Jumela 6 in Pera di Fassa; and a working, antique sawmill (La Sia) at Via Pian Trevisan in Penia, just outside Canazei. Tourist offices throughout the area have details of festivals, exhibitions and events.