On Friday, 26th June 2009 theDolomites were officially recognized by Unesco: Natural World Heritage Sites. The Dolomites: hundreds of square kilometres of walls, towers, pinnacles and valleys. The "Monti Pallidi" are precious natural jewels of millenarian history which attract every year thousands of people. The Enrosadira, a phenomenon that happens at dawn and dusk when the sun light reflects on the walls of the Dolomites, which magically turn to red.
Five provinces belong to the region of the Dolomites (Trento, Bolzano, Belluno, Udine and Pordenone), while there are three different ethnic and linguistic groups: Italian, German and Ladin. The main mountain groups of the Dolomites are: Dolomiti di Brenta (West Trentino), Sella, Odle-Puez-Putìa, Sciliar-Sassolungo, Marmolada, Pale di San Martino, Catinaccio-Latemar, Civetta-Moiazza, Pelmo-Nuvolau-Croda da Lago, Fanes-Sennes-Braies, Tofane-Cristallo, Sorapiss-Antelao-Marmarole, Cadini di Misurina, Dolomiti di Sesto and Alpi Feltrine-Schiara.
The Dolomites - emerged from the tropical sea, that extended between the provinces of Trento and Bolzano and whose seabed was rich in corals, shellfish, seaweeds and fish - can boast a fascinating geological past: they keep inside their rocks proof of a sea life that dates back to 290 millions of years ago. Strong pressure and erosion during the Ice Age carved the rocks of the Dolomites transforming them into mountains. The Marmolada with its highest peak, Punta Penia (3.343 m), dominates the landscape and is regarded as the Queen of the Dolomites. Moreover its glacier is the biggest one in the area, known also as "ice sea".
Dolomia, the rock the Dolomites are made of, take its name from the famous French geologist Déodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801), the first one that discovered and studied this ore. The name Dolomia was chosen, in honour of Dolomieu, from the Swiss chemist Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure, who was a great friend of him and had analyzed some Dolomia rock samples. He found out that the Pale Mountains were made of a mineral that was unknown up to that moment, a double carbonate of calcium and magnesium. After that accidental discovery, many important alpinists, such as John Ball, J. Gilbert and G.C. Churchill, Paul Grohmann and Tita Piaz from Val di Fassa, started to study Dolomia. Nowadays there are plenty of trails, via ferratas, equipped trails, climbing walls and trekking itineraries that lead to the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomites.