Italy's Dolomites - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Asiago & Beyond by Marissa Fabris - Read Online
Italy's Dolomites - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Asiago & Beyond
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With its shimmering peaks, dramatic vertical rock faces, lively resort towns, Alpine hamlets and world-class ski resorts, the Dolomite Mountains are a retreat for climbers, skiers, mountaineers and all manner of outdoor enthusiasts. In the southern Alps b
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ISBN: 9780935161748
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Italy's Dolomites - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Belluno, Asiago & Beyond - Marissa Fabris

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The Dolomite Mountains

Celebrated for its shimmering peaks, dramatic vertical rock faces, lively resort towns, Alpine hamlets and world-class ski resorts, the Dolomite Mountains are a retreat for intrepid climbers, skiers, mountaineers and all manner of outdoor enthusiasts.

In a privileged position in the southern Alps between the Adige and Piave Rivers, the Dolomites are a tourist mecca in winter and summer, drawing visitors from around the globe for après-ski in fashionable Cortina d’Ampezzo (a resort that gained fame when it hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics), summertime glacial skiing on the region’s highest peak, Marmolada, and spectacular hiking from early summer through fall.

The Dolomite range stretches over the northern Italian provinces of Belluno, Trentino and Alto Adige, but Cortina, along with several other lively resort towns are located in the Veneto's richly diverse province of Belluno. F rom its more densely populated southern district between Feltre and Longarone, the land rises steadily through the valleys and forests to the crests of the jagged Dolomite Mountains, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Dropping down in size but certainly not beauty, the Dolomites gently slope toward the smaller mountain groups and plateaus that form the pre-Alpine zone, including Belluno, Mt. Grappa, the Mt. Baldo Range and the Asiago plateau.

Much of the province was under Austrian rule for many years and consequently was significantly impacted by their culture. While Italian is predominantly spoken in the zone, there are pockets where Cimbri, an ancient Bavarian dialect, and Ladin, another dialect heavily influenced by German, are spoken.

Chair lifts and cable cars connect mountain refuges. During winter, these are the perfect way to access well-groomed slopes and, in summer, the extensive trail network.

Did You Know? Dolomite, a mineral composed of calcium and magnesium carbonate, was discovered by the French geologist Deodat de Dolomieu in the 18th century and named in his honor. The name was later given to the section of the Alps where the mineral is present in great quantities.

The Dolomites

A Lively Culture

Food & Drink

If the pleasure of eating is directly related to the pleasure of living, then it should not come as a surprise that Italians have discovered so many imaginative ways to eat and drink. For centuries food and drink have been an integral part of the Venetian culture and perhaps a central catalyst for social development.

Mealtime is traditionally social and Veneti hardly ever forego an opportunity to enjoy deliciously prepared foods or the chance to be in the company of family and friends.

Mountain dishes in the Dolomites are hearty, traditional and Austrian-inspired due to the zone’s proximity to and relationship with Austria.

There are several dishes you’re likely to find on menus throughout the zone including casunzei (ravioli-like pasta prepared with either pumpkin, spinach or potatoes), canderli (dumplings), spres frit (fried cheese) and barley soup.

Puina (dialect term for polenta), lamon beans, mushrooms, wild herbs, poppy seeds, smoked ricotta and Schiz cheese are all ingredients commonly used in preparing dishes in the mountains.

If it’s too cold to sample the world-famous locally produced gelato, try a strudel di mele (apple strudel) or another apple- or berry-based dessert.

Note: November and May are virtually dead months in most mountain towns, and you’ll be lucky to find the occasional hotel or restaurant open.

Meals – Colazione (breakfast) is traditionally the smallest meal for Veneti and hardly consists of anything more than tea, espresso or cappuccino, sometimes accompanied by a brioche (a cream- or jelly-filled pastry), fresh fruit or toast. Many people also enjoy caffè latte (a bowl of warm milk, coffee and day-old bread). Cereals and fruit juices have become increasingly popular among the younger generations. Breakfast, taken at home or at a bar, is rarely more than a light morning snack. If you need a heartier breakfast to jump-start your day, hotels typically cater to international guests with continental-style breakfasts consisting of breads, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, cereal and yogurt.

Customarily, Italians return home from school or work for pranzo (lunch), traditionally the largest meal of the day. This meal consists of antipasti (appetizers), a primo piatto (first course), a secondo piatto (second course) with contorni (side dishes) and sometimes frutta (fruit) or a dolce (dessert). Although shunned in some cultures, it is acceptable in Italy to consume an aperitif, a glass of wine or a digestive drink during the midday meal. More and more people now, particularly the younger generations, opt for quicker lunches on-the-go and have a panino or tramezzino (sandwich) at lunchtime.

The evening meal, cena, is often smaller than lunch, consisting of either a first course or a second course. With more people on the go for the midday meal, however, it is becoming increasingly common to consume a light lunch and a larger meal in the evening.

Courses Meals often begin with antipasti, consisting of fresh vegetables, seafood and meats served either warm or cold. The primo piatto can consist of anything from pasta or soup to risotto (a rice-based dish) or polenta (made from white or yellow maize and grown abundantly in the Veneto).

As with pasta, risotto can be prepared in assorted ways with fresh meats, vegetables, seafood and cheeses. Polenta is cooked in liquid form, left to set, then either served hot or sliced and grilled as a first course topped with a sauce, as a side dish or with a soup. Pasta dishes can be found on almost any restaurant’s menu and are always a popular choice for a first course. Soups are often a less-filling option for a first course and people who eat pasta at lunchtime commonly opt for soup in the evening.

Depending on your appetite, you may have room for a secondo piatto comprised of grilled, roasted, boiled or stewed chicken, rabbit, lamb, duck, fowl, beef, pork or seafood. Meats and fish are typically served with contorni such as roasted potatoes, green vegetables and an insalata mista (mixed salad).

A meal is hardly complete without a dolce (dessert) and restaurants often serve a signature dessert in addition to a gelato (ice cream) and macedonia di frutta (mix of fresh fruit and white wine). Locally grown fruits such as kiwis, berries, apples, peaches and cherries complement many desserts.

If you’re not sure what to order, ask for a piatto misto (mixed plate) of either antipasti or primi. Not all restaurants are willing to do this but when they are, this is a great way to sample a few different dishes for a reasonable price.

Seasonal Cooking The abundance of crops cultivated in the Veneto provides restaurants and markets with the freshest seasonal products year-round. The most seasonal meat, produce, fish and cheese dictate every menu and it is rare that any restaurant will offer customers the same menu in June that they do in November. Even though it has become increasingly