There’s a beautiful Ladin word, enrosadira
, meaning ‘alpen glow’, that describes the Technicolor transformation of rock as it is bathed under the light of sunrise and sunset. Nowhere is the effect more vivid than the Dolomites
of northeastern Italy.
The calcium carbonate pinnacles and ridges of the Dolomites are considered by many people to form the most photogenic mountain range in the world. Known as the Pale Mountains, their jagged peaks spear dramatically up to 3,000m out of the valleys and pastures below. They would often feature on the European Grand Tours of the 19th century, and one regular modern day visitor is James Rushforth.
A photography guide for our tour specialists Wild Photography Vacations, James is so enamoured of the Dolomites that he’s written several books about it, covering everything from photography to ski touring and traversing the famous via ferrate
(steel cables affixed to the rock to create climbing routes). He says: “I love the Dolomites for the friendly people here, the unique architecture, but most of all because it’s like a big adventure playground, summer or winter.”
From a photographer’s perspective, this kind of scenery is absolute gold dust. There is the iconic image of the Tolkien-esque Tre Cime di Lavaredo towers jutting out like rotting teeth; steep mountain passes overlooking peaceful alpine meadows that are strewn with wildflowers in spring; Tyrolean communities where it’s common to encounter people wearing traditional dress; glacial lakes, waterfalls and bubbling springs; and, clear skies permitting, superb potential for astrophotography given the minimal light pollution.
“We mostly stick to the more well-known areas,” says James, “but as soon as you leave the passes the coach groups disappear and we have the scenery to ourselves. The Dolomites is a compact mountain group but there’s an immense amount to see, and you do get people coming back year after year because of that.”
There are far taller and more remote mountain ranges out there, and many that are better known. But few can compete with the Dolomites for sheer drama.