The Position of the Pale Mountains
The Dolomites are often indicated as a uniform entity, even though their complex structures, both under the geological as well under the geo-morphological point of view gives us the image of a highly heterogeneous area. Nevertheless, considering the general structure and the aestatic features, the Dolomites can be gathered according to some criteria that differentiate these mountains from the rest of the Alps and from all the other mountains of the world.
Historically and customary, broadly, we speak of the Dolomites when we refer to that part of the Eastern Alps, entirely located in Italy, that is naturally delimited by the following, important rivers: River Rienza, River Piave, River Cismon, River Brenta, River Adige and River Isarco.
Officially elected World Natural Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2009, the Dolomites have been gathered by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation into 9 systems, located on an area of 136,000 hectares of mountain area (called “core area”) and almost 96,000 hectares of midpoint area (called “buffer zone”), for a total of almost 235,000 hectares (2,350 square kilometers).
The groups individuated by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation are the following ones:
1. Pelmo – Croda da Lago (Province of Belluno), surface: 8630.09 hectares (core + buffet);
2. Marmolada (Province of Belluno and Province of Trento), surface: 2785.58 hectares (core + buffet);
3. Pale di San Martino, San Lucano, Vette Feltrine e Dolomiti Bellunesi (Province of Belluno and Province of Trento), surface: 56050.46 hectares (core + buffet);
4. Dolomiti Friulane e Dolomiti d’Oltre Piave (Province of Belluno, Province of Pordenone and Province of Udine), surface: 47077.40 hectares (core + buffet);
5. Dolomiti Settentrionali (Province of Belluno and Province of Bolzano), surface: 79112.95 hectares (core + buffet);
6. Pues – Odle (Province of Bolzano), surface: 10731.82 hectares (core + buffet);
7. Scillar – Catinaccio – Latemar (Province of Bolzano), surface: 13179.18 hectares (core + buffet);
8. Bletterbach (Province of Bolzano), surface: 819.04 hectares (core + buffet);
9. Dolomiti di Brenta (Province of Trento), surface: 15337.04 hectares (core + buffet).
It is important to notice, about this classification, that in order to be included into the UNESCO World Natural Heritage, the mountain ranges of the area have to adhere to certain criteria, among which the most decisive are the ones that protect the naturalness of the single mountain groups. For this reason, some of the peaks of the area couldn’t be included into the UNESCO area: this is the case, for instance, of the Sella Massif, which is undoubtedly one of the most “dolomitic” peaks of the area, but which is too much affected by human modifications, in particular from ski lifts. Also in the case of Mount Marmolada, the highest peak of the Dolomites, there were a lot of problems to include it into the UNESCO list, because of the cable car that crosses the mountain range.
Insitutionally, according to both the territorial classification and the UNESCO classification, the Dolomites are located on the areas of 5 Italian Provinces and 3 Italian Regions. The Province of Belluno in the Veneto Region is the one that covers the greatest part of the Dolomites area; then, according to the percentages of area, comes the Province of Bolzano (Bozen) in the Region Trentino – Alto Adige (Südtirol in German), the Province of Pordenone in the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Province of Trento in the Region Trentino – Alto Adige (Südtirol in German), the Province of Udine in the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia.
According to the UNESCO classification, the average value between core areas and buffer areas gives us the following territorial subdivision of the UNESCO Dolomites:
Province of Belluno > 46% of the UNESCO area
Province of Bolzano > 24% of the UNESCO area
Province of Pordenone > 13% of the UNESCO area
Province of Trento > 12% of the UNESCO area
Province of Udine > 5% of the UNESCO area
If, on one hand, the Dolomites are bounded in the collective imagination mainly to the Trentino – Alto Adige (Südtirol) area, the geo-political subdivision of the Dolomite area gives as a completely different image, in which the Veneto Region (the same Italian Region in which Venice is located) has almost half of the whole surface of the Dolomites within its boundaries and Friuli Venezia Giulia a good 17% of the area. The reason because of which the fact is not perfectly known to everybody lies in the fact that Südtirol is an autonomous Region with the widest autonomy in the whole European area: to compete with the marketing power of this Region is extremely difficult for the other actors of the Dolomites area.
But there’s an interesting tendence in the last few weeks, a trend that sees how appreciated the “wildest” parts of the Dolomites are compared with the resorts that dedicate their offers to mass tourism; in this sense, Belluno, Pordenone and Udine are able to offer something that is impossible to find in other parts of the Dolomites, that is the true, wild, natural and untouched face of this enchanting corner of the Alps, far away from the confusion and the passing fancies of mass tourism.
In the Agordino (Unione Montana Agordina, Province of Belluno, Veneto Region) guests have the chance to admire 4 of the 9 official UNESCO Dolomites Systems (Pelmo Croda da Lago, Marmolada, Pale di San Martino – San Lucano – Vette Feltrine – Dolomiti Bellunesi and Northern Dolomites): a richness of peaks that is almost unparalleled in other parts of the Dolomites area. Our seven valleys and our 16 Municipalities wait for you in Agordino, the Heart of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, to show you how beautiful and enchanting the dolomitic landscape can be.