Unique Products of the Dolomites

Unique Products of the Dolomites

The Dolomite Mountains, encompassing over 90,000 acres of mountainous terrain and breathtaking views, provide a stunning account of nature at its best.   Below the towering peaks rest picturesque villages, charming valleys, and rolling green pastures.  But the Dolomites are not just about beautiful scenery and outdoor activity, although both abound there.  The region is also home to a fascinating population of people and a rich, unique culture that has existed there for centuries.  It is from this distinct culture that several products have originated which are just about as unique as the people who produce them.   

Stilfser – A delicious soft cheese produced exclusively from Alpine dairy milk, specifically from the South Tyrolean region.  It is a tasty treat with a smooth consistency, intense aroma, and truly distinct flavor.  Cheese lovers are often surprised by the Stilfser’s unique quality and taste.   In 2007 the cheese received the European Union’s D.O.P. (“Protected Designation of Origin”) denomination, which guarantees quality and authenticity and officially certifies its origin.  It is a “must try” food while in the Dolomites.

Grappa – Although this alcoholic beverage isn’t exclusively produced in the Dolomites, it’s so popular there that it’s worth including on the list.  Grappa has been produced in one form or another since the 13th century.  Similar to wine, the flavor differs depending on the grapes used in its production and how it is distilled.  South Tyrol Grappa is produced from grape skins that are particularly rich in aroma and purity, giving it a truly distinct flavor.  It’s typically served after a meal, in a chilled glass or added to an espresso to “correct” it.  It’s quite potent, anywhere between 70 and 120 US proof, and the Italians often refer to it as “fire water” for its strong but pleasant taste.  Grappa can be found at most restaurants in the Dolomites, and some rifugios even make their own, so check it out.  Cheers!

Speck – This delectable gourmet ham has been a specialty of the Dolomites since as early as the year 1200.  It gets its unique taste from a combination of the climate of the region and the distinct way that it’s produced, using a mixture of smoking and fresh air.  The meat is salted, lightly smoked and then cured in the open air, a preservation method that has been passed on through generations.  The result is a delicious meat that has become a staple of Dolomite cuisine, served with bread and wine or as a tasty snack.  Wherever you dine in the Dolomites, chances are you will have the opportunity to try speck. 

Wood Carving – Over the centuries, the people who live within the peaceful valleys of the Dolomites have continued to carry on the ancient traditions of those who came before them.  One such tradition is hand-crafted art, namely wood carving.  Intricately carved statues and figurines can be seen displayed throughout the various valleys, particularly in Val Gardena and the Aurina Valley.  Visitors can admire the hand-crafted masterpieces by touring local workshops and can even purchase their very own one-of-a-kind piece.  It’s a fantastic way to bring back a little piece of the Dolomites.

Experiencing the Dolomite Mountains is much more than just taking pictures, skiing down a slope or hiking a mountain trail.  It’s also about the people who have called this region home for centuries and the cultures and traditions that they still proudly carry on today.  The products listed here present a true reflection of these fascinating people and the history, uniqueness and true beauty of the Dolomites.