The Italian Dolomites (Ladin: Dolomites; Italian: Dolomiti; German: Dolomiten) are a mountain range located in north-eastern Italy. It considered to be a part of Southern Limestone Alps and extends from the Adige River in the west to the Piave Valley (Pieve di Cadore) in the east. The area most people hear about and that is presented as the Italian Dolomites are located between; the Puster Valley and the Sugana Valley (Val Sugana). The Italian Dolomites are located in the Belluno Province of the Veneto Region, and the Trentino-Alto Adige Region's, Trento Province (Trentino) and Bolzano Province (Alto Adige or Sud Tyrol).
There are also mountain groups of similar geological structure that sit outside of this area that are considered Part of the Italian Dolomites. To the east of the Piave River, into the Friuli Venezia Region, are the Friuli Dolomites or Dolomiti d'Oltrepiave. On the Western side of the Adige River, still in the Trento Province, is The Brenta Dolomites (Dolomiti di Brenta). Also, there is a smaller group called Piccole Dolomiti (Little Dolomites) located in the Vicenza Province.
The Italian Dolomites are also called the “Monti Pallidi” in Italian, 'Pale Mountains', as their white rocks glow with golden, pink and purple hues at dawn and dusk. The mountains get their modern name from, Déodat de Dolomieu, a French naturalist who first studied and discovered the particular composition that forms their bedrock (double calcium carbonate), unique in the whole Alpine range.
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A favorite destination of nature lovers, the Dolomites, or Dolomiti in Italian, is a mountainous region that is part of the Northern Italian Alps. Dominated by 18 majestic peaks, its diverse landscape consists of more than 350,000 acres of jagged pinnacles, sheer rock faces, icy glaciers, deep gorges, lush forests, and verdant valleys. Because of its stunning beauty and well-preserved Mesozoic carbonate platform system that was formed 250 million years ago, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
Throughout the Dolomites, towns and villages dot the countryside, each part of a fascinating smorgasbord of unique customs and languages. In fact, prior to the end of WWI, South Tyrol and Trentino were part of Austria, which explains why 75 percent of the region's population speaks German as their first language.