Map of Trento

Where Are We…

The Trentino-Aldo Adige is an area that was considered part of the Tyrol…Southern Tyrol or to the Germans Weschtirol. It was annexed to Italy less than 100 years ago after World War I. It had been part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire and prior to that it was for 800 years feudal states of the Bishops of Trent and Bolzano.. To the South, there is the magnificent Lake of Garda and mountains to the East and West. The region is bordered by Tyrol (Austria) to the north, by Graubünden (Switzerland) to the north-west and by the Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto to the west and south, respectively. It covers 13,607 km²(5,253 sq mi). It is extremely mountainous, covering a major part of the Dolomites and the Southern Alps.

While we will return in future editions to exploration of spectacular beauty of the Trentino geography, there is a special and distinguishable difference regarding the mountains of the Trentino. In 2009, UNESCO declared the Dolomites as a World Heritage Site panel praising the Alpine range as ”one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere.” This spectacular designation and its affirmation indicated that they are among the most attractive mountain landscapes in the world. Their intrinsic beauty derives from a variety of spectacular vertical forms such as pinnacles, spires and towers, with contrasting horizontal surfaces including ledges, crags and plateaus, all of which rise abruptly above extensive talus deposits and more gentle foothills. A great diversity of colors is provided by the contrasts between the bare pale-colored rock surfaces and the forests and meadows below. The mountains rise as peaks with intervening ravines, in some places standing isolated but in others forming sweeping panoramas. Some of the rock cliffs here rise more than 3000 m and are among the highest limestone walls found anywhere in the world. The distinctive scenery of the Dolomites has become the archetype of a “dolomitic landscape.” Geologist pioneers were the first to be captured by the beauty of the mountains, and their writing and subsequent painting and photography further underline the aesthetic appeal of the property.

Our Mountains: the Dolomites

In 1848, Alexis De Tocqueville, a French sociologist, traveled throughout the United States and wrote about us referring to us and our democracy as “exceptional.” Our Tyrolean community has its very own De Tocqueville, Father Bonifacio Bolognani…who traveled extensively throughout the states for over 20 years, declared us Tyrolean as exceptional. He went further, wrote a book about us, and thereby gave us if not a name possibly an identity….The book’s title was: A Courageous People from the Dolomites…This wonderful complement preceded and resonated the wonderful designation than none other than UNESCO gave our ancestral lands…declaring the Dolomites as so special and exceptional that they were and are to be henceforth considered as part of the world heritage…Hence, descendants of these courageous people from the Dolomites…let’s get to know them better by examining what they are and where they are.

Compared to other mountains, they are brighter, more colorful, more monumental, and seeming to be architecturally inspired. The Dolomites feature some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. They rise up like a cathedral of rock,full of rugged crags and breathtaking pinnacles. Formed 200 million years ago out of the primeval ocean whose debris were pushed up as the land masses collided. Déodat de Dolomieu (1750-1801)discovered and defined the unique composition of the stone,dolomite, giving the mountains their name and responsible for the characteristic shapes and color of these mountains. They were referred to as monti pallidi , the pale mountains. These mountains are relatively young compared to other mountains. Geologically, the mountains are formed of light-colored dolomitic limestone, which erosion has carved into grotesque shapes. The resulting land forms include jagged, saw-edged ridges, rocky pinnacles, screes (pebble deposits) of limestone debris, deep gorges, and numerous steep rock faces.Many of the lower and more gentle scree slopes were once forested; only patches of woodland remain, however,interspersed with grassy meadows.

There are specific groups of Dolomites: the eastern section bounded by the valleys of the Isarco (northwest), the Val di Pusteria (north), the Piave (east and southeast), the Brenta (southwest), and the Adige (west). The Trentino Alto Adige has over 66% of the Dolomites. The range comprises a number of impressive peaks, 18 of which rise to more than 10,000 feet (3,050 meters). The highest point is the Marmolada (10,964 feet), the southern face of which consists of a precipice 2,000 feet high. Dolomites were the front line between Austria and Italy
during World War I and are still scattered with abandoned bunkers and fortifications. Many people visit the Dolomites to climb the Vie ferrate, protected paths used by the soldiers during the First World War and further developed to enhance the access to these sensational places. A number of long distance footpaths run across the Dolomites, which are called “Alte vie” (i.e., high paths).Such long trails, which are numbered from 1 to 8, require at least a week to be walked through and are served by numerous “Rifugi” (huts). A tourist Mecca, the Dolomites are famous for skiing in the winter months and mountain climbing, hiking, and Base Jumping, as well as paragliding and hang gliding in summer and late spring/early autumn. With this brief introduction, we will explore in future editions the individual groups of Dolomites one by one.

Le Pale di San Martino

Le Pale di San Martino (Pala Group) is one of the five principal mountain ranges of the Dolomites in the Alps. The term Pala comes from the name that was used locally to designate the banks and grassy slopes at the base of the chain . By extension then went on to define the entire mountain range. The first climbers, mostly British , after the completion of their first tours and open some streets in their pleadings indicated originally the mountain range with the terms of the Dolomites Primiero or group of Pale (or even with a corruption in Italian is not very pleasant,balls). Only later, with the development of the practice of tourism mountain and the construction of driveways that favored the growth of Siror , became known worldwide in the mountaineering world as the Pale di San Martino.

Le Pale di San Martino extends over an area of 240 square kilometers (93 square miles) from southern Trentino(Natural Park of Paneveggio-Pale di San Martino) to the Province of Belluno. The group is situated in the valleys of Primiero and Bois, and the territory of Agordo. The Primiero is composed of the following municipalities: Imèr, Mezzano, Transacqua, Fiera di Primiero, Tonadico, Siròr, Canal San Bovo and Sagròn Mis. Le Pale di San Martinois characterized by a large plateau of 19 square miles) with an altitude that ranges between 8200ft and 9100 ft meters above sea level. The highest peak of this group is the Vezzena 10,472 ft, followed by Cimon della Pala 10,446 ft – also called for its shape the “Matterhorn of the Dolomites”(Cervino delle Dolomiti). Other notable peaks in are the Cima dei Bureloni 10,269 ft and Cima di Focobon 10,019 ft. The smaller peaks, such as Pala di San Martino, range between 9520 and 8850 ft.

These peaks are characterized by vertiginous walls of dolomite rock. Vast forests, cultivated since the Middle Ages,characterize the lower altitudes where rich fauna live; deer are one of the most important animals. The wood from these forests is in part managed by the Magnifica Comunità of Fiemme (the local government of the valley), an institution founded in 1111 by decree of the Prince-Bishop of Trento Gebardo. But according to local legend the control of these forests originate from an accord between squirrels and lumberjacks. The spruce fir from these forests was chosen to build the most wonderful musical instruments, such as the violins, cellos, and other stringed instruments crafted by Antonio Stradivari and his family during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, musicians still request instruments made of this particular wood from the Trentino.

One of the first settlements to favor travelers was the Hospice of Saints Martin and Julian(located in San Martinodi Castrozza), but only towards the middle of 19th century did the first tourists started visiting. The first were prob-ably the Englishmen Josiah Gilbert and George C. Churchill (1862) that described these mountains in their famous book “The Dolomite Mountains.” The book was a type of advertisement for the Dolomites and the Pale di San Martino. Some of these men started climbing the peaks like Edward R. Whitwell. In 1870, Whitwell climbed the Cimon della Pala, possibly the most beautiful peak of Pale di San Martino. The entire area rapidly became one of the most famous destinations in the Alps. Subsequently, this led to the construction of roads, hotels, and mountain huts or refuges. Some of the refuges are the rifugio Rosetta “G. Pedrotti”, rifugio Velo della Madonna, rifugio Mulaz “Volpi,”,rifugio Pradidali, rifugio Val Canali “Treviso”, and rifugio-capanna “Segantin.”

Valsugana: The Lakes

Lakes in the Alpine areas have their very own fascination so often surrounded and framed if not defined by its mountains. The Valsugana has two spectacular gems: Lago di Caldonazzo e Lago di Levico. The Mediterranean climate of the valley and its size have helped make it a particularly popular with families. The Lago di Caldonazzo is the Trentino’s largest lake totally in the Trentino whereas the Lake of Garda is partially in the Province. At one time, it was even larger approaching the city of Pergine. It is considered one of the warmest lakes in all of Europe attracting so very many tourist. ns: These beautiful lakes are surrounded by unique mountains..the Lagorai with their natural parks, the highlands and the typical pastures for cattle grazing The Lake offers many beaches, charming villages, restaurants and entertainment. There are a number of health spas and baths in their proximity: Terme di Levico, Roncegno. It is the center for so many sports: swimming, boating, sailing, restaurants, health spas. An extensive network of cycle paths leads through a picturesque rural landscape.

The Lago di Levico is Fjord-shaped. It lies at the foot of the renowned spa resort bearing the same name. Levico Terme,.. On the southern end of the lake is the”Canneto di Levico” biotope, where great-crested grebes and bald-coots come to build their nests.

The Dolomites: The Brenta

Dolomites are the very symbol of the Trentino and the Brenta Group are possibly the symbol of the symbol. The Brenta Dolomites are Europe ‘s most thrilling mountains, arguably it’s most beautiful and certainly it’s most outlandish. Everyone has seen pictures of the Dolomites, but the reality will always exceed your expectations especially the Dolomiti di Brenta , Brenta Group. The vast limestone towers that soar, thousands of feet above the surrounding scree and high meadows, with beautiful, often virgin, mixed forest on the lower slopes,glaciers, and torrents that all evoke the grandest serene majesty. The variety of colors, the shapes of the lime-stone rocks and walls are unique in the world. Pinnacles and amazing walls alternate with colorful green valleys full of forests, meadows, torrents and canyons with huge waterfalls. They are not as high as the tallest Alps, but outdo all for sheer drama. The principal peaks are Cima Tosa (3173), Cima Brenta (3150), Crozon di Brenta (3118), Cima d`Ambiez (3102, Cima Mandron (3033) and Torre di Brenta (3008). The Brenta is a complex mountain range made up of high dolomite and lime-stone peaks; it belongs entirely to the Trento province. Most consider it part of the Italian Dolomites, but geographically it belongs to Alpi Retiche Meridionali (Central Alps). Its boundaries are 4 valleys: on the northern side Val di Sole, on the eastern side Val di Non and the Paganella plateau, on the southern side the Giudicarie,and on the western side Val Rendena. The name Brentais derived from the local dialect term brent (brenta in Italian): a big wooden bucket used to carry water. The dense presence of mountain lodges- Refugi the central part of the Brenta Dolomites (one every 2/3 hours hiking) does not disturb the environment. The Northern part of the Brenta Dolomites is wilder and has many malghe (shelters for the cows). It is a paradise for climbers as well as hikers as well as tourists who ascend with cable seats and.or cars. The area is riddled with outstanding walks.

The Brenta Dolomites were simply there as part of the environment for our people who struggled to survive making hay and pasturing their cattle on the slopes and pastures of the Dolomites. They had neither the time nor the leisure to pursue climbing or Alpinism . Serious alpinism began in 1864 led by the English, then by the Austrians and the Germans. At that time, 1864, anIrishman, John Ball and his Trentino alpine guide crossed the formidable Bocca di Brenta (the mouth of the Brenta)…Shortly after, there was created the Società Alpinisti Trentini (SAT) in Campiglio, an Alpinisim Clubthat began the development and the cultivation of the Brenta Dolomites. At that time, Douglas William Freshfield put the Dolomites, the mountains of the lands of our people, on the world map in his book Italian Alps.(Do you know that 2/3 of the Alps are in Italy and even the peak of the Matterhorn is in Italy) There followed the likes of Francis Fox Tuckett who began undertaking ever more challenging. Otto Ampferer and Karl Berger, Austrians undertook the Campanile Basso, a most difficult monolith. They did this with ropes and nails only to be followed by Paul Preuss, who did it alone with no equipment whatsoever.

There are two very distinguishing peaks, Bell Towers, in the Brenta: the Campanile Basso and the Campanile Alto. The Campanile Basso is a summit located in the central chain of the Group 2877 meters above sea level,is a solitary spire-section tends square, situated between the Campanile Alto (2937 m) and the top of Brenta Alta. The monolith, which stands in the heart of the group,has long been considered an inaccessible mountain, due to the apparent absence of cracks and the high exposure of the walls.

Via delle Bocchette is a special feature of the Brenta. It is via ferrata or “iron road”, plural vie ferrate or in English via ferratas ) is a protected climbing route consisting of a steel cable which runs along the route allowing a climber to secure themselves to the cable. The views are spectacular and singular. These vie ferrate are strongly associated with the First World War, when several werebuilt in the region to aid the movement of troops.

There are “refugi”, lodges throughout the Brenta. The first one, Refugio Tosa, was built by the SAT in 1881.Other refugi include Tuckett, Brentei, Agostini, Dodici Apostoli, Alimonta, and Grafer. On the rocky cliffs, one can find flocks of chamois or watch an eagle in flight and the newly re-introduced brown bear. It is a paradise to be enjoyed.

Riccardo Decarli (Biblioteca della montagna-SAT, Trento)

Madonna di Campiglio  

From the middle of the century, Campiglio is a“sanctuary …of tourists.” Yet the name,Madonna di Campiglio, is reminiscent of a Christian sanctuary which drew many of the devout and inspired many gifts. The ancient sanctuary razed to the ground at the end of the 19th century due to the damage that occurred in the fire of 1887 which devastated the first tourist facility that had been built proximate to the monastery of Campiglio. It was rebuilt several times. Franz Joseph Osterreicher, the son of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph built a new church in 1895. It was a sanctuary notable for the flow of the wayfarers and devotional piety. The monk Raimondo, founder of the sanctuary, built a church, a hospice for wayfarers and pilgrims at the end of the 13th century in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the moth-er of God “for the salvation of souls, for the welfare of the poor and the defense of the pilgrims and the wayfarers”.The merchants of Giudicarie valleys, Val di Ledro, Arco, Riva and the Vallagarina who frequented the great fairs of the Alto Adige, the passage through Campiglio had fewer tolls and fees while under estimating its dangers. There was a long mule trail that served as an almost impassable passage between Pinzolo and Dimaro through the woods infested with wolves and bears, reeking with predators and assassins while it was impractical in the winter due to the snow and ice.

It was the third hospice that arose in the Trentino, after that of the Tonale Pass (1171) and that of San Martinodi Castrozza (1181). The monastery had no affiliation with any religious order but by papal order they chose the Augustinian order. Prompted by the bishops, hundreds of the Giudicarie valleys and the Valleys of Noce left their “gifts”, their inheritance to the hospice. With the surrender by all of their material goods to “chiesa di Santa Maria di Campiglio” many of the devout were petitioning to be accepted as “lay brothers and sisters” in the nearby monastery.

Hundreds of parchment records from 1207 to 1452,affirm that “Sancta Maria de Campeio” was the most frequented Marian shrine. The community that managed the hospice was composed of both celibate and married people regarded as “confratelli” (confreres). They were directed by a monk Prior to whom they pledged absolute obedience. In 1436, there were 13 monks. The community grew to 20 monks and 5 nuns. In effect, the “lay brothers” became the proprietors of the properties in the valleys around Campiglio. They left their goods to the hospital and in compensation; they were accepted into the community. The Prior would sell their deeded goods and properties and acquired ever more properties around Campiglio increasing the prestige and the strategic importance of their hospice. The importance of the commercial route was critical to guarantee the longevity and certitude of those who entered the hospice, adjacent to the monastery and the hospital. The merchants and the shepherds with their herds and flocks would find rest at Campiglio would leave generous offerings. It was this opulence that threatened the very foundations of the community. The Priors became involved in trafficking in both spiritual things and material goods. Vocations as well as gifts dried up. In 1525, the peasant farmers, angered by the increasing power of the prince bishops, attacked and burned the hospice and the monastery. Restored from the damage inflicted by this rustic war of the peasants, the hospice assumed a less prominent role.

The decline of the sanctuary was inevitable. In the succeeding decades, the Prince Bishops of Trento conferred the hospice as well as the title of Prior to ecclesiastical noblemen. The latter should have involved themselves with the spiritual needs of people that lived in the valleys and gathered hay and pursued mountain pasturing. In the summer, the neighboring farmers and shepherds relied on the Sanctuary for the administration of the sacraments. Although the sanctuary was wealthy with agricultural properties, the sanctuary with absence of monks, the celebration of solemn feasts and devotional pilgrimages, was reduced to a shelter for herdsmen, woodsmen, charcoal makers, hay gatherers, wayfarers and criminals of every kind. With the absence of regular inspections on the part of the proprietors (the Canons of the local chapter) for the absolute neglect of the tenant farmers, the place became a herdsman’s hut without any controls. As the interest in the once popular sanctuary faded, the Canons sold the entire complex to a businessman of the Rendena Valley, Giovanni Battista Righi. He transformed the monastery into a hotel appointed with all comfort luxuries of that time: reading room and salon along with a piano and baths. The hotel built in 1870 was destroyed by a fire in 1877 but was reconstructed. In July 1894, there came a royal lodger, Francis Joseph Austria along with his wife, Elizabeth (called Sissy).Legend has yet another royal visitor passed through….Charlemagne. The Pass between the Val Rendena and Val di sole was named Pass Carlo Magno (the Charlemagne Pass). There is an ancient stain glass window that depicts Charlemagne surrounded by a variety of saints.

Mountains of the Val di Non

The Val di Non are blessed with two marvelous sets of mountains. In the north, there are the Maddalene Mountains and they straddle the Brenta Dolomities on west side of the valley. See the article about the Brenta Dolomites in the Winter 2013 edition of the Filò.

The Maddalene Mountains are one of the least known and wildest mountain ranges in Trentino. Geographically they belong to the Ortler-Cevedale group of mountains which are situated between the Trentino and Alto Adige/Südtirol. To the west they are bordered the Cevedale group; to the north, the Val d’Ultimo, on the east by the Passo delle Palade and in the south by the Valdi Non. There are four valleys that surround the group: Val di Rabbi, Val d’Ultimo, the Val di Non and Val di Sole The Maddalene are sometimes treated as the mountains of the Val di Non, even though they are part of the Valdi Sole. These mountains abound with waters and pastures. The name of these mountains comes from the habit of not cutting the hay before of 22 July, the day of St. Mary Magdalene.

The first explorers of the Maddalene were the shepherds who probably climbed a few peaks, but there is no traceof their names. These shepherds went to the mountains to work, hard work, and simply had no free time in sporting activities, such as mountaineering. The first mention of a climb up these mountains is also one of the first ones in the region, dating back to August 24, 1552, when Jakob von zu Boymont . Katharina Bosch and Queen Katharina von Brandis went up on Mountain Luco, also called Laugenspitze (2434 m), a scenic mountain over-looking the Passo delle Palade. Boymont was a Baron, born in Castel Ivano, in Valsugana in 1527. He had a castle (Castel Bavaro) in Nalles, just below the Passo delle Palade. His castle was probably placed there to control its territories and from whoever might decide to climb to the summit of the Monte Luco. Yet another three centuries passed before there was word of another climber in the Maddalene. Shortly after the mid-nineteenth century , Bohemian Lieutenant Julius Payer explored the bases of the Maddalene, explorations that were not as important as those in the Ortles-Cevedale and Adamello-Preanella. Payer f irst created a map that represented quite closely these mountains.

On Maddalene there are only tw o shelters: Refuge Stella Alpina at the Lago Corvo (2425 m), built in 1952 by Matthias Trafojer. Onereachesthe shelter in about 3 hours walking from Piazzola or Saint Gertrude in Val d’ Ultimo. The other shelter is called Maddalene Refuge(1925 meters) opened recently at the center of the mountain range and can be reached by Lanza or Provesin 2 hours. The Maddalene are an ideal place for hiking and long treks, in a natural environment that has remained largely intact. The shelters are few, but instead there are some shelters and many shepherd lodges (about 80). The Maddalene border on the Stelvio National Park, and share the many animals of this noted park: deer, roe deer and chamois, brown bear, marmots and many rodents, foxes, hares, grouse, eagles etc.. In addition to hiking is also very popular ski touring and hiking with snowshoes.

The Maddalene are characterized by wide meadows and pastures, forests, lakes and streams, but also from rock structures, that do reach the heights of the Dolomite groups. The highest peak is the Punta di Quaira or Karspitze (2752 m), followed by the Turatti peak or NebelSpitze (2701 m).

Written byRicardo di Carli

The Mountains of the Fiemme

The Fiemme Valley is typical of the eastern Trentino region. Most of its mountains are covered with vast forests, and the valley’s wealth is derived from lumber. The most important mountains are the Dolomite peaks of Latemar on one side, and the porphyry rock of Lagorai on the other. The characteristic valley of the river Travignolo starts from the gates of Predazzo, flows eastward towardPasso Rolle, through the marvelous forest of Paneveggio, bordering the famous Dolomite group of Pale di San Martino. The name Latemar seems to have come from Laitemar, the name of a local shepherd’s hut, while Lagorai, refers to the numerous lakes (about 98) of the area.

The small Dolomite group of Latemar was explored toward the middle of the nineteenth century. The first ascent was made by Anton Grabmayr of Bolzano in 1852 who climbed Il Palon. A few years later, the geologist Ferdinand von Richt often climbed several of the peaks in the course of his studies. The Fiemme Valley,in fact, had been noted in the early 1800s because of itsparticular geologic formations. Giuseppe Marzari-Pencati, from Vicenza, published a book in 1819, in which he described these particular formations. IN the Canzoccoli zone, near Predazzo, the granite layer is superimposed on a layer of limestone, a fact which aroused great interest from the European scientific community. As a result, the most famous European geologists began arriving at Predazzo – Leopold von Buch, Alexander von Humboldt, etc. Noting the influx of scientists, a citizen of Predazzo, Michele Giacomelli, decidded to open an inn to provide lodging for these new tourists. The inn “Nave d’Oro” opened in 1820 and became one of the best in the whole Dolomite region.

The Lagorai area, with peaks less than 9000 feet high, did not attract the mountain climbers. Instead it became a heaven for hikers, and, in the winter, for Alpine skiing.Here there is no history of expert climbers. Rather, it was the shepherds who first climbed most of the peaks. The only refuge in the Latemarzone is the Rifugio Torre di Pisa at an altitude of 8780 feet. It was opened in 1980. At a short distance from the refuge may be found a characteristic rock tower, over 60 feet high, and leaning just like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In the woods above Predazzo, in the Boscampo locality, there is a characteristic wooden sheep station known as “Bait delle fontane” where one can find shelter in case of bad weather. There are also few ruges in the Logarai region,but on the
Fiemme side there are the Rifugio Cauriol, Rifugio Laghi di Colbricion and the Rifugio Refavaie. There are many trails, meticulously maintained by the SAT agency, both in the Latemar and the Lagorai areas. There are itineraries for every level of hiking skills –from families with children up to expert hikers. The southern part of the Val
di Fiemme borders on the natural Park of Monte Corno, founded by the Province of Bolzano. This park, the nearby Paneveggio Park, and the wild area of Lagorai, have allowed many animals to thrive there. Deer are especially prevalent, so much so that a deer has become the symbol of the Pangeveggio Park.

The principal peaks of the Latemar are: Cimon (9337 feet), Torri di Latemar (9232 feet), Torre Christomannos (9180 feet), Schenon (9180 feet) and Paion (9186 feet). The highest peak in the Lagorai group is Cima Cece(9054 feet), followed by Cima Laste dele Sute (8583 feet)and Cima delle Stellune (8547 feet).

Riccardo Decarli (Biblioteca della montagna-SAT, Trento) Ricardo knows the mountains that he presents to us first hand. Hew just published Guida ai Rifugi del Trentino, where he describe the 151 “rifugi” in the Trentino. The book is available from Panorama di Trento: (