Accessible Dolomites. Heritage for Everybody

The Dolomites World Heritage Site is for everyone to enjoy. Accessibility is therefore a primary goal for the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation. The Foundation’s commitment to accessibility and social inclusion began in 2014 with “Accessible Dolomites. Heritage for Everybody”, a project funded by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism under Italian Law No. 77/2006 containing “Special measures for the protection and enjoyment of Italian sites of cultural, scenic and environmental interest, included on the ‘World Heritage List’” protected by UNESCO status.

Accessible path in the Brenta Dolomites

Ph. Dolomiti Brenta Open

The project aim, in line with the Overall Management Strategy for the Site, is to support a process of raising awareness around accessibility in the mountains, already launched by local governance bodies within the Dolomites UNESCO Property, through sharing of information, education and promotional activity. The project has enabled creation of a platform for communication and dynamic interaction, which can evolve over time, growing and developing, also through the contribution of those with information and suggestions to offer.

The website currently features 36 trails that are accessible to everybody, even those with limited mobility, such as disabled persons, the elderly and families with small children. These trails have been specially developed with the associations managing accessibility and are located across all nine of the Dolomites Systems that make up the Site. Each trail has a clearly detailed map of the route, GPS coordinates, environmental and geomorphological features of the area and the different stopping points with access for all. Detailed technical information sheets (in English, German and Italian) enable the user to analyse the trail and independently evaluate their ability to complete it. In addition to these trails, there are 13 panoramic viewpoints that can be reached by fully accessible lift systems. In addition, the interactive map on the website enables users to plan their visit based on their preferred geographical location and consult different activities found nearby.

In the context of this project, in 2017 the Foundation organised an educational programme — extended across the whole of the Dolomites — aimed at training expert professional figures with skills for guiding persons with disabilities. Sessions were held by Accademia della Montagna, meeting the objective of providing a highly qualified mountain-guiding service. This involved networking of various entities active in the field of sports, outdoor experiences and social inclusion already working in the Dolomites, in order to establish them as partners and structure a service organised across the entire World Heritage Site. In 2022 volunteers from associations working in the field of disabilities and social inclusion were on the front line in terms of education, keen for an experience rooted in sharing and dialogue.

This activity is part of the project “Promotion of the region through integrated management and communication actions of the UNESCO Dolomites WHS”, established with the support of Fondo Comuni Confinanti.