The 3 Languages of the Dolomites

The 3 Languages of the Dolomites

Did you know, that while the Dolomites are part of Italy, there are actually three languages spoken here?

While you are hiking down the trail, you may hear “Salve!” (a formal Italian Hello), “Guten Tag!” (Good Day in German), or “Bun dé!” (Good Day in Ladin).  You may also hear the occasional “Hi” or “Hello” from other like-minded English-speaking travelers, smart enough to hike in or travel to the Dolomite Mountains!

Because the Dolomites are bilingual, even trilingual in some places, many villages and towns have both an Italian and Austrian name, and sometimes Ladin one too. Town, road, and trail and signs will vary between one, two, and three languages, depending on where in the Dolomites you visit.

How did this happen? Over the course of time and history:

  • German – The northern part of the Dolomites, Südtirol  (in German) or Alto Adige (in Italian), were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the early 20th century. World War One saw a fierce battle in the Dolomites, which included the creation of vie ferrate or iron paths, many of which can still be climbed today. After the war, the region became part of Italy, yet the majority of Südtirol / Alto Adige is primarily German-speaking.
  • Italian – Italian is the national language of Italy. While other languages are legally recognized in the Dolomites, Italian is the language of the country. Some areas of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo for example, are principally Italian in culture and in language.
  • Ladin – An ancient Rhaeto-Roman or Romance language, Ladin was spoken by the first inhabitants of the valleys of the Dolomites, and was later influenced by the Latin-speaking Romans. About 30,000 people in the Dolomites still speak Ladin today, in the 5 Ladin valleys: Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Fodom and Val di Fassa.

When you travel to the mountains of Northern Italy, you may encounter any of these languages. Here are a few words and phrases that will help you navigate your hiking, skiing, and climbing adventures in the Dolomite Mountains!

Buon divertimento! / Viel Spaß/ Fala buna"/ Have fun!


English / Inglese / Englisch / Ingleje

Italian / Italiano / Italienisch / Talian

German / Tedesco / Deutsch / Todësch

Alta Badia Ladin / Ladino / Ladinisch / Ladin


Ciao (informal)




Salve (formal)

Guten Tag / Hallo

Bun dé

Good morning / good day

Buon giorno

Guten Morgen

Bun dé

Good evening

Buona sera

Guten Abend

Buna sëra

Good night

Buona notte

Gute Nacht

Buna nöt

Good bye





Per piacere / per favore





Thank you




Thank you very much

Grazie mille

Vielen Dank / Dankeschön


Dër bel giulan


You’re welcome


Bitte / Bitteschön

Nia da dì

Do you speak English? (formal)

Parla (parli) Inglese?

Sprechen Sie (sprichst du) Englisch?


Baieste (baies) Ingleje?


What is your name?

Come ti chiami?

Wie heißt du?

Co aste pa inom?

How are you?

Come sta? (formal), Come stai? (informal)

Wie geht es Ihnen?(formal) / Wie geht's? (informal)

Co vara pa?






Va bene

In Ordnung

Va bun

Where are you going?

Dove vai?

Wohin gehst du?

Ula vaste pa?

(At) home

A casa

Nach hause

A ciasa

Where is the bathroom?

Dov'è il bagno?

Wo ist die Toilette?


Olà é pa le bagn?


On the left

A sinistra


A man ciampa


On the right

A destra


A man dërta


Excuse me (getting attention, apologizing)

Scusa (informal), Scusi (formal)


Pordona (informal), Pordonede (formal)

Excuse me (getting past)


Entschuldige (informal), Entschuldigen Sie (formal)

Pordona (informal), Pordonede

How much is that?

Quanto costa?

Wie viel kostet das?


Tan costa pa chësc?