The rock gives the Dolomites their unique character. But why is it so different from other types of rock and mountainous area found in the Alps? The answer lies in its color. It is white and let’s not just dwell n its white color, it also changes colors. Now didn’t that get your attention? The changing hues of the various stages of daylight affect the way the Dolomites are viewed. In a way, it is almost chameleon like.
Dawn brings with the power of the rising sun and Dolomites can be painted a vivid orange when the sunlight hits the mountain range. But come the dusk, you’ll see the mountains tinged purple and finally pink as it bids farewell to the setting sun. The Dolomites prove to be equally colorful in other weather too. Stormy skies can see the Dolomites illuminated in shafts of sunlight as if blessed by a divine power and the moonlight can render them pale gold as if the mountains are illuminated gently from within.
This surreal color palette displayed at the mountains has a unique name given by the people of Ladinia which is the heartland of the region. The word is in the Ladin language, still spoken by the people there and it is ‘enrosadira’ which has no Italian nor German equivalent and simply means ‘becoming pink’.
Food is a staple no matter where you go and each area will have its own specialty or twist to a popular Italian meal. Remember you are in Italy, in the land of passionate people who are passionate about the food they make and being nearly on the Austrian borders gives rise to new dishes which are very popular in this region. You are in Italy, and the food here is like an extension of the beautiful landscape, rich in taste and flavors.
With that being said, an integral part of any tour should be sampling the local dishes and cuisine. This is one way of really getting to know a region and appreciating all aspects of its identity. The ‘casunzei’ is a big favorite in the Dolomites region and it is a pasta dish that is reminiscent of ravioli. It is small folded pasta with a choice of either white filing that is made of potatoes and herbs or a red beetroot as the filling with melted butter and sprinkled poppy seeds on the top. This sounds mouthwatering as it is when you read about it, but when you are travelling in the high reaches of the Dolomites, this hot dish will feel like a slice of heaven.
Another staple which has different variants depending where you have this dish in the Dolomites are the ‘canederli’ in Trentino which is also known as ‘Knödel’ in South Tyrol which is basically dumplings. These dumplings of bread are big and round in size and have a lot of Speck in them which is a local dried ham which is smoked, with a few herbs accompanied with a broth.
If you are hiking in the mountains, you may find this food in a mountain hut which will feel like the perfect reward for your strenuous activity and help fuel your hunger. It is a hearty meal that is found in eastern Cadore and in the Dolomiti Friulane and it is the ‘frico’. Feast on a rich omelet with ham or mushrooms and cheese whipped up with polenta and you’ll find you have renewed vigor to tackle the next trail.
There are many local delicacies that are too numerous to mention, but the cheeses and the dry cured meats are a specialty of the whole region even though there are variants, so you can buy some samples along the way to chomp as you journey through the Dolomites.