COUNTRY WALKING MAGAZINE - The Land of Pillar & Pinn Acle
I'M NOT USED to being whistled at. I’m 41, a victim of male-pattern baldness, and I have crooked teeth. But it must be me who’s being whistled at, because there’s no one else around. Although, hold on – if no one else is around, who’s doing the whistling? (Answers later – I like the suspense). I was cockahoop about visiting the World
Heritage-listed Dolomites, 90,000 acres of marvellous mountains in northeast Italy. Two friends had been in recent years and wouldn’t ruddy shut up about the place. I wanted to come back to Blighty and be as irritating as them. Plus I already liked the word Dolomites. It sounds both friendly, in a Tellytubby kind of way, but also the second half of the word is a little bit feisty.
The Dolomites are part of the Alps geographically, but they’re very different geologically. They take their name from the carbonate rock dolomite, named after 18th- century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, who first described the mineral. The region is distinctly culturally different too. In fact my week-long itinerary has me walking between two very different regions: Alta Badia and Cortina d’Ampezzo. Alta Badia was part of Austria prior to the First World War and is a mix of three cultures – German/Austrian, Italian, and ancient Ladin. Signs are written in three languages – some places even have three names – while architecture and cuisine are different too.