Before we get started, how do you pronounce, “Dolomites”? When planning our trip I talked to my very good Italian friend, Ale’. I’d like to go to the “dow-luh-mites”, I said. Ale’ quickly admonished me, it is pronounced “doh-leh-meet-eeze”. When you speak to an Italian, you must say it this way. OK, Ale’!
With that out of the way, I did a little research. The Dolomites (aka Pale Mountains) are situated in Northern Italy somewhat near the Austrian border. They are the Northern Alps consisting of 18 peaks rising to 3,343 meters (that’s just under 11,000 feet for Americans). They are named from the carbonate rock dolomite, not that matters to a photographer.
Now armed with a little background info and how to pronounce the Dolomites, it was onto the fun of photographing one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.
We used the mountain town of Cortina as our base. It is quite picturesque. But, to us, the brightest part of the town is the pizza place, Al Pasetto, with excellent pizza, with and without gluten. We ate there five times in three days.
Our first morning was a sunrise photo shoot at Cinque Torri, the five towers. Our guide Francis said, it’s just a short, flat hike. It was neither! In the blackness before dawn, up we went, rising higher and higher, into the clouds. By the time we arrived at the top, I was out of breath, sweaty, and my knees ached. What a fun start to the Dolomites! With the old saying, no pain no gain, ringing in my head, we were rewarded with spectacular views.
Passo di Gaiu
That afternoon we visited Passo di Gaiu, a most impressive portion of the Dolomites. Before we hiked to the pass, we stopped at a small pond to photograph reflections. This is a common spot for photographers.
We then hiked to the pass. This sounds ominous but it wasn’t. The hike this morning was much more difficult. At the pass, we had 360-degree views of spectacular scenery. The best photographic view is to the east, with Pale di San Martino, Cime D’Auta, Marmolada, Piz Boe and Setsass mountains.
Lago di Braies
The next morning, we visited a couple of lakes, the first one just before sunrise. Lago di Braies was beuatiful and reminded me a little of Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. The key to our photo shoot is the wooden boats lined up by the boathouse. We got lucky, the wind was a bit strong, moving the boats into the lake – a great leading line!
Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Our final stop in the Eastern Dolomites was a hike through Tre Cime. The hike was on a flat path but had some heart-pounding moments. About half-way through our hike, we came across a small church. I’m not sure who the parishioners could be as there wasn’t a home for many miles. Regardless, the scene was breath-taking.
The star of the show is Tre Cime die Lavared, Three Peaks of Lavaredo. We photographed these peaks from many vantage points. The image below is my favorite.
As we always say, turn around and you may be rewarded. In this case the sun was nearly set, emitting rays onto the mountain range.
The Eastern Dololmites were magnificent, well worth the visit. We were lucky with the weather, which allowed us to see the peaks (often covered with clouds). And the temperatures were moderate, adding to the enjoyment. A final image showing where we rested after a tough hike.