Throughout the ages the beauty of the Dolomites has faScinarted poets, architects and climbers. The jagged peaks, the plummeting gorges, and the captivating colours which the rock give out at dawn, and especially at dusk, appeal to all. Goethe, Le Corbusier, Messner are celebrated names of the vocations cited but the list could go on and on to name numerous others who have left there heart in these “Pale Mountains”. In June 2009 during the Seville congress UNESCO conferred on the Dolmites the title of World Natural Heritage and in so doing added it to the list of the 200 most beautiful landscapes in the world.
This natural setting which extends around the Sella Massif, the Sassolungo Group, the Sciliar, the Sassongher, the Pelmo, the Civetta and the Marmolada is home to the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO, uniting 4 valleys of the Dolomites in a spectacular route offering magnificent views and an irresistible challenge which passes through Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Arabba , Val di Fassa and the plateau of Alpe di Siusi.
For mountain bike lovers it is a unique and memorable route which flows past many of the typical mountain huts famous for their delicious cusine.
Val Gardena is one of the five valleys in the Dolomites where for approximately 2,.000 years the Ladin language has been spoken, it having its roots in the fusion of Retico and Latin. For centuries the principal activity of the valley was of an agricuktural nature, and then in the 1700s there was an emergence of artistic flair so that in the following decades many of the families passed from the land to concentrate on carpentry, sculpting, paintng, and design and decoration. The finished wooden sculptures from Val Gardena began to reach the main European markets and then made their way to the world at large.
The next significant development was with the advent of tourism for there were numerous possibilities for excursions and climbing and as a result of the incoming visitors there were increased working opportunities and a new wealth came to the valley. Moving forward to today it can be said that Val Gardena is one of the most popular winter sporting locations in the world and has earned its status through hosting a number of international events. In 1970 the World Alpine Skiing Championships were held here, in 1981 Group B matches of the Hockey World Championships were held, and since 1972 the valley has been on the Ski World Cup itinerary, it having a Mens Downhill and Super G, both on the Saslong slope above S. Cristina.How to get there
Alta Badia is a tourism area in the southern part of Val Badia, and it also is part of the Ladin world of the Dolomites. Corvara, Badia and La Valle are the three municipalities of Alta Badia, and the whole area today enjoys an international tourism clientele. Again the valley has strong agricultural roots, the working of the fields having been extremely arduous due to the rocky gradients and alpine climate not offering ideal nor very fertile ground, and poverty and hard times were not unheard of. It was the imposing Dolomite peaks circling the valley which gave rise to the tourism impulse at the beginning of the 20th century.
After the end of the Second World War there had been a gradual growth of tourism and it taking the place of agriculture as the main activity of the inhabitants. In 1947 in Alta Badia Col Alta became the first approved and reguated chairlift in Italy. Notwithstanding the growth of tourism and the strength in its artisan industry the agricultural sector has kept an important role in Alta Badia life. Indeed in all Val Badia it is so, and this gives the summer months here a distinctive look as the fields are cultivated and the farmers work their trade. The sporting tradition in Alta Badia can be seen in the long history of the Alpine Ski World Cup. The Giant Slalom being held on the Gran Risa slope at La Villa.How to get there
Fodom is the valley of Livinallongo and at its extreme western point is the mountain village of Arabba. The valley is one of the 5 ladin valleys of the Dolomites. It was part of the Austro-Hungarian Tyrol for centuries until after the end of the First World War it became part of Italy. The Sella Group, the central massif of the Dolomites, stands proud above the village. The village up to a few decades ago was a remote mountain location and it was only with the advent of winter tourism that it began to enjoy a strategic position for it found itself on the ski carousel of the famous Sellaronda.
Livinallongo was perhaps one of the poorest of the Ladin lands through the centuries and the state of poverty reached its apex during the First World War, the front separating Austria and Itaky passing directly through this valley, and most of the local population were obliged to emigrate. In summer there is much opportunity for road cycling, going as far as Passo Pordoi and experienced hikers and climbers can enjoy the many assisted ropeways leading on to the higher peaks. The agricuktural tradition is not neglected for there is still great emphasis on milk production and preparation of much appreciated cheeses.How to get there
Val di Fassa
Val di Fassa is one of the 4 Ladin valleys leading off from the foot of the Sella Group and going in different directions In a topographic sense it is the natural extension of Val di Fiemme and it has 7 municipalities. Fascia, as it is called in Ladin, was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Tyrol for many centuries and again it was only after the First World Wat that it became part if Italy. Val di Fassa is the only Ladin valley to be in the Province of Trentino.
Passing through the valley one can notice the houses decorated in bright colour with decorative and happy illustrations. This goes back to the times of great poverty in the 19th century when the local men to make a living would travel to many places in Europe and make use of their artistic skills to embelish houses, churches and palaces. Val di Fassa also has tourism, both of a winter and summer nature, to thank for its relatively recent economic upturn.How to get there
Alpe di Siusi
The Alps in question comprise a high mountain plateau situated between Val di Fassa and Val Gardena in the province of Bolzano. The area extends over 57 km², is the highest Alpine plateau in Europe and varies betwen 1680 and 2350 m asl. The terrain is made up of vast meadows with many mountain huts and barns which renders the landscape particular and welcoming. The mountain peaks which surround are the Sassolungo, the Sassopiatto, the Sciliar, and the plateau can be be reached by road from the village of Siusi and by cablecar from Siusi and Ortisei.
One time Alpe di Siusi had a very important agricultural presence with more than 4,000 haymakers working away during the summer. Nowadays it is a real paradise for hikers, families, and enthusiastic joggers. In winter it is the ideal choice for those wishing to ski downhill on relatively easy slopes, concentrate on crosscountry skiing, or even set off on a snowshoe excursion.How to get there