This important work by Karl Felix Wolff, centred on the great road between Bolzano and Cortina, is now also available in Italian. Translated by Isabella Ferron and edited by Ulrike Kindl and Fabio Chiocchetti, the book has been reissued at the suggestion of the “Majon de Fascegn” Ladin Cultural Institute and published in a specialist series by Nuovi Sentieri, with sponsorship by the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation.
A timeless work…
…only accessible to German readers until now. It was published in 1908, but has previously never been translated into Italian. This is one of the books that helped spread the fame of the Dolomites throughout the world: not a simple guide for the early days of mountain tourism, but a detailed and precise picture of the nature and ethnography of the Dolomites and of the people who live there. Wolff examines language, traditions, place names and geomorphology, without evading the delicate subject of the divisive nationalism that marked the early 20th century. The book was first published under the title “Monographie der Dolomitenstrasse” and carried fine illustrations by Karl Felix Wolff‘s brother, Richard. These illustrations are also present in the new edition, together with postcards, period photographs, a reproduction of the map of the Dolomites from the original edition, and a previously unpublished chapter about the Marmolada Group and its surrounding area.
A masterwork that unites us
The “Dolomitenstrasse” began life as a link between Bolzano and Cortina d’Ampezzo, making the valleys of Fassa, Fodom, Badia and Gardena accessible to travellers. The project was first discussed as early as the 1860s, but work finally began in 1900 and lasted ten years; the road was opened on September 13, 1910. Wolff therefore saw it near completion, and drew inspiration from it to paint a magnificent tableau of the environment surrounding it and of the people living there. This infrastructure obviously played an important role during the First World War. Reconsidering it today, in the context of the new Italian translation of Wolff’s work, prompts us to focus on the importance of the links between the mountain valleys, and the value of the Dolomites as an area of cultural, linguistic, economic and social interchange.