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.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

The 10 most beautiful places in Italy – as voted by you

Is there anywhere in the world as easy on the eye as Italy? From art-filled cities to heart-stopping coastlines via gorgeous landscapes, you could criss-cross t…

07 Dec 2016 • Natasha Foges camera_alt Gallery
An expert’s guide: where to stay in Venice

An expert’s guide: where to stay in Venice

Venice has been depicted and described so often that on arriving in the city you might have the slightly anticlimactic feeling that everything looks exactly as …

14 Oct 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
7 highlights that make Genoa Italy’s most delicious city

7 highlights that make Genoa Italy’s most delicious city

Genoa is way off most travellers’ itineraries, but it’s time this northern Italian beauty – and its outstanding local cuisine – gets the recognition it …

10 Aug 2016 • Natasha Foges insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month