The Dolomites

The Dolomites are situated in northern Italy and are widely regarded as one of the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world.

The Dolomites
Photograph Angelica Fuchs

Before I start storytelling about the epic scenery pictured above, this post was inspired by the incomparable lens of Angelica Fuchs, a Swiss-based photographer and composite artist who captured my eye with the epic masthead shot on Instagram @scandiipop. She was kind enough to indulge my suggestion of featuring her photographs in a small piece about my travels. Her website has a breathtaking gallery of Switzerland, the Dolomites, and Norway. And a growing portfolio of dramatic shots from Iceland.

Angelica’s Dolomite photographs reminded me of the epic beauty wedged between the pale mountains in Italy. Without the young lady’s awe-inspiring lens, this post does not happen. Therefore this mere snippet of a story is a celebration of God's handiwork in carving the Dolomites and Angelica's raw perspective with a lens.

The Dolomites are situated in northern Italy and are widely regarded as one of the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. Their spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires, and towers provide an unrivaled natural beauty. The mountains contrast horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags, and plateaus, which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle green foothills.

Photograph Angelica Fuchs

The Dolomites, also known as the “Pale Mountains”, take their name from the carbonate rock dolomite. The rock was thus named after the 18th-century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu (1750–1801), who was the first to describe the mineral.

In the early 1980s, I was driving like a madman south from Switzerland. A friend had suggested a slight detour for a “not-to-be-missed” sight. (See the map below to orient my travels) The views stopped me cold on several occasions. In our fast-paced world bent on schedule keeping, I had learned to stop when the scenery demanded my attention. The steep peaks of the Dolomites fit my description of when to apply my brakes. The show-stopping panoramic views I encountered were worthy of a Hollywood big-screen production designed to leave the viewer spellbound.

Switzerland, Austria, and Italy

The Dolomites comprise a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks that rise to above 3,000 meters or 9,800 feet and cover 141,903 ha. or 540 square miles. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs, and a high density of narrow, deep, and long valleys. And did I mention the lakes trapped in the vertical valleys?

Photograph Angelica Fuchs

The crystal blue lakes dot the landscape in almost every high valley. Of course, I got out of the car and put my bare feet in the ice-cold water. Standing there as the breeze rustled through my hair, I surrendered to the majestic views and subtle peace the tall peaks engendered.

The calm of the pristine valley is only occasionally interrupted by hikers on a number of long-distance footpaths that traverse the Dolomites. These footpaths are called alte vie (German: Dolomiten Höhenwege – high paths), and are numbered 1 to 10. The trails take about a week to walk and are served by numerous rifugi (huts). The first and the most renowned is the Alta Via #1.

Securely hugged by the majesty of the moment, I added hiking one of these trials to my bucket list and moved on as my feet grew numb from the ice-cold water. The Dolomites were a glorious pit stop forever etched into my consciousness on my journey south to Vicenza. I made sure to include the Dolomites on my return trip to satisfy my yearning for the pale peaks. I mustered out of Italy the following year, leaving a return trip to the mountain landscapes on my long bucket list. But the sights, sounds, and feel of the Dolomites would never leave me.  

Walking in the Dolomites near Bolzano. Photograph: Matjaz Corel/AlamyHug

Let me close this post by bringing Angelica's lens center stage. The photograph that captured my attention and trigger my flood of cherished old memories is below. The stark pale rocky top set against the soft blue sky stands a tireless vigil over the valley. The winding paves stones to the peak reminded me of a path to a sacred temple and a fitting place end to our journey. We have reached our summit and the conclusion of our short story.

Photograph Angelica Fuchs

Do not forget to give Ms. Fuchs some love. Please follow Angelica on Instagram @scandiipop. And visit her website for a broader array of nature’s beauty at Her tender perspective will not disappoint.

Until next time. Travel safe.